Saturday, December 18, 2004

Vance Creek: ELF Boating

Nick makes a move on a low-water drop.

Vance Creek is a neat little class IV creek on the Olympic Peninsula. Saturday, David, Nick, Steve and I met up with Seattle kayakers Jon Almquist, Chris Totten, and Sybille Fleischmann. In keeping with recent trips, this run featured a less-than-convenient putin. For this one, Korb's guidebook advised us to follow an old road and then stick with the STEEP part of the hillside we would encounter. The steep pitch took a couple of ropes to handle. Things were going well, but Nick's IK got sick of waiting and struck out for the river. The last thing I saw was a yellow IK hurtling down the steep slope, then boofing impeccably over the edge of a 60 foot drop to the creek along which we were descending. Luckily, the boat survived with no damage other than a few new scratches.

At the putin, Vance Creek looked tiny. Chris and Jon mentioned that between them, the lowest flow they'd ever been on was at least three times more water than we had today. We were in for a day of ELF boating: extreme low flow boating. I knew right away I'd brought the wrong boat.

Vance Creek starts off with a fairly trashy, log-strewn first mile before entering the canyon and tightening up. With more flow, say 50 to 100 percent more water, this run would feature some excellent class IV creeking. There are few drops bigger than 4 feet, but the whitewater is nearly contunuous. Once within the canyon itself, the wood also cleaned up, with very little problem wood. Still, there's plenty of wood available, so check around corners. With higher flow, eddies would start getting scarce.

The photos from the day are posted in the Vance Gallery.

Thanks very much to Jon, Chris, and Sybille for joining us and sharing their knowledge of this creek.

Vance Video
I've wrapped it up into one big clip. 15 minutes, so it's big! (80MB)

Brian descends the steep pitch via rope.

Nick and David staging boats on the hike in.

The group at the putin.

Entering the canyon.

David at the first limbo log. This is right above the first trashy III drop.

Sybille in a typical drop.

Nick boat-scouting on Vance.

A typical drop. Boney -- but you can see what great drops these would be with water.

Steve in Vance's scenic gorge.

This was probably the biggest single drop on the run.

The first part of a great drop. This rapid continues around the corner below the pool.

David in the first part of the long, scenic drop.

Sybille prepares to run one of the bigger drops on Vance.

Sybille styles a steep drop.

Looking down the canyon. This about as long a straight shot as you will see in this small, intimate gorge.

Steve on Vance Creek.

Another technical work out on Vance Creek.

Sybille, moving fast to make a line.

Nicks floats the canyon.

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