Sunday, March 06, 2005

White Salmon: Green Truss

Steve boofs at Little Brother.

When we heard that Val Shaull and PDXKayakers were planning to raft the Truss, we knew we had to be on-hand to see it. After a fun Saturday on the Farmlands, we were up early and looking forward to another lap on Truss. We got to the bridge just in time to take advantage of Val's great boat lowering system. Our crew for the day: David Chatham, Eric Klein, Steve Munk, Mike Novak, and Mark Yauney.

David and Steve with a passel of boats.

I'd like to give a special thanks to Deek from Next Adventure and Ryan Scott for so generously sharing their video footage from the trip. Much of the video posted in this TR was shot by Deek, and I hope to add a clip or two from Ryan as well.

It was a busy day on the Truss. We were an hour or so behind Pete Giordano's crew (Truss '05 TR), and there were a lot of boats. Val was guiding an R3 in a 14 foot self-bailer while Dana was leading a 12' R2 boat. There were 5 IKs in our party, and at least a dozen hardshells out. I don't think I got to meet everyone, but everyone I met had a big smile and a great attitude.

This was my first lap on Truss, but I was the only virgin in our group. Needless to say the blood was pumping. David and Steve offered good lines to follow, and we lost little time dropping through the great entry drops on our way to Meatball.

Video: Above Meatball

Dana works out of a tough spot on the Truss.

Video: Meatball

Val's crew drops into Meatball.

Meatball is a great drop, with a fun sliding entrance into a moving pool that forces a quick choice left or right of the meatball itself. Most of us ran left and boofed hard into a beefy hole at the bottom of the five or six foot ledge.

Below the pool following Meatball, comes Bob's Falls. This is a great ten foot ledge that leads into two more fun pool-drop ledges above Big Brother. We opted to run this right, and I took off to go down and get set up at the big drop.

Video: Bob's Falls

Big Brother. This is one of the best-known waterfalls in Washington creeking. It's name-recognition is right up there with Spirit on the Little White, though it's a smaller drop. Steve and David had been talking big about this drop ever since their last trip. Would they really run it? While some were quickly portaging, Steve and David got busy scouting. Safety was quickly set for the cave on the right, and after watching several successful runs by veteran Truss boaters, David made the call.

Video: Big Brother

David Chatham drops off Big Brother.

Not to be outdone, Steve quickly followed suit, and Mike dropped in just behind Steve.

Steve Munk gets it done at Big Brother.

Just below Big Brother comes Little Brother, aka The Faucet. This 14-footer can be run on a sliding entry on the right or a clean boof on the left.

David nails the line at Little Brother.

Eric rides his brace at Little Brother.

After more great pool-drop fun, the crew approached Double Drop. Of the big three, this was the only one I was interested in running. As is usual, DD was dishing out impartial helpings of humble pie, but nobody had a serious beat-down.

Video: Double Drop

David drops into Double Drop.

Mark cleans up at Double Drop.

Dana's raft lines up at Double Drop.

Below Double Drop the Truss continues to dish out great fun drops, though with fewer ledges than the upper stretches. There is a short stretch where the difficulty eases a class, but there are still fun class II-III rapids to keep you moving. The canyon is truly stunning in this section, with towering walls. It was warm, sunny, and felt like 60 degrees. I couldn't think of a place I'd rather be, or a group of folks I'd rather be with.

All this peaceful floating ends abruptly as one reaches Zig Zag Canyon. The Zig Zags have seen several unpleasant beatdowns recently, so I was apprehensive. After successfully running Upper Zig Zag, I got out to take my first scout of Lower Zig Zag. The first ledge and Splat Rock looked every bit as bad as I expected, but not unrunnable. Mark gave some great coaching on the preferred line, and after watching him nail the line with aplomb, I felt ready. David, in the interest of keeping me from getting overconfident, promptly showed why Mark's line was the preferred route. I did have a swim at the very end, but I made the moves I needed to, so I was stoked.

Video: Upper Zig Zag and Lower Zig Zag

Below Zig Zag Canyon, there are more fun drops. Cheesegrater and The Flume are two of the named drops in this section, and both proved to be fun. There were many other fun hole-bashing drops to run, and several fun boulder gardens as well.

Somewhere in this section, Val's R3 crew decided to stop for lunch -- in the middle of a class IV drop. Their wrap was a complete one; all three paddlers were out on the rock, and the whole boat was underwater. This was a 14-footer no less! David, Steve, Mike and I bounced around the boat, and Steve was able to eddy out just below. David and I managed to catch the eddy below the next drop. I grabbed my pin kit and hiked up to a ledge above the river and went back up to the site. The first z-drag was nearly in place. Steve and I pulled, but we weren't getting anywhere.

Val indicated we should change tactics, and we rigged two z-drags downriver of the wrapped boat. Not quite sure how, but it did the trick. I think we had three different pin kits fully deployed to get this boat unstuck. Patience and good communication really made a difference in getting this done efficiently.

For a photo of the wrap, check out's photo gallery or go right to the photo.

Steve, somewhere in the lower canyon.

Steve in Cheesegrater.

Steve, somewhere in the lower canyon.

Finally, we arrived at the pool above the lead-in to BZ Falls, the last big drop of the day. We spaced to catch the final eddies to scout, then Mark, Eric, David, and Steve dropped in.

Video: BZ Falls

Mark hits the perfect line in BZ Falls.

Eric lines up at BZ Falls.

What a great day! After the throw-n-go below BZ, we quickly reached the takeout. We'll be back for more Truss fun soon, that's for sure. Thanks again to Deek and Ryan for sharing footage, to Val for helping drop boats into the canyon, and to the PDX crew for a fun day on the water. SYOTR!

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