Tuesday, December 28, 2004

EF Lewis Falls Run

Nick in a drop below Copper Creek.

The EF Lewis drainage offers some excellent whitewater, ranging from III to V. For this outing, we headed to the EF Lewis itself, running from above Sunset Falls to below Horseshoe Falls. This is a great IV-V run, though with the low water (450 cfs) there was little IV+ on the run, other than the two falls. On this trip, we were joined two hardshell kayakers from PDX. JD volutneered heroically to carry the helmet cam.

Helmet Cam Video

Steve at the putin. There are several access points depending on how far above Sunset Falls you wish to launch.

JD in a typical EF Lewis drop.

Steve in a typical EF Lewis drop.

Nick practices his rock pivot.

This run begins with small rocky rapids, usually a combination of bedrock features and small boulders. The whitewater starts with a bang at the big horizon line above Sunset Falls, an 18-footer that is clean on the left. We had a quick scout, then proceeded to run a couple laps on the fun, forgiving drop. I continued my hellish record at waterfalls with two swims, including busted thigh straps. Our hardshell guides decided to give the drop a go in our IKs, and I felt somewhat more vindicated when my boat generated a third swim on the drop. After some field repair on my thighstraps, we headed downstream toward the canyon.

Sunset Falls Video

Brian shows how to swim 18-footers.

Steve shows how to do it with style.

The EF Lewis offers several class III rapids before dropping over Hippie John's Boulder Drop. This is a short boulder garden that is clean on both sides. Check the helmet cam footage for a great carnage scene as I flip on a shallow boulder. Yup, four swims, a new personal record. Sigh ...

Looking back up at Hippie John's Boulder Drop.

Next up is Sky Pilot, a fun rapid that begins with a tight drop into a hole on the left before a big hole near the end of the drop.

Sky Pilot Video

Steve in Sky Pilot.

Nick in Sky Pilot.

Nick in a shallow drop.

Below Sky Pilot, you'll enter the shallow gorge. First up is Screaming Left, which opens with a three foot ledge into a big pool. Get out here to scout or portage the entry. The trick with this drop is the undercut wall on river right. Run close to the left bank or portage the entry move to the left on river left. Immediately below Screaming Left comes Dragon's Back, a steep hole that is best run right. Below the ledge drop there's some class III under a log before the canyon settles out to a calm pool.

Screaming Left and Dragon's Back Video

JD shows a good line at Screaming Left.

Steve pins in Screaming Left. A little left angle, please.

Paul powers through the holes in Screaming Left.

Steve gets his swimmin' done at Dragon's Back.

JD melts through the hole at Dragon's Back.

The canyon below Dragon's Back.

The next horizon line below the pool is John's Swimming Hole, which can be scouted or portaged on river right. This straightforward drop pushes hard into a headwall at the bottom, so stay right.

John's Swimming Hole Video

Steve in the final ledge above the Copper Creek confluence.

Shortly below John's Swimming Hole, the river drops over another ledge and Copper Creek enters on the left. There's some fun class III - III+ drops that will keep you entertained most of the way to Horseshoe Falls. When the river drops off to II+, you're fifteen minutes above Horseshoe.

Horseshoe Falls Video.

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