Friday, July 01, 2005

Jarbidge-Bruneau Day 1: Confluence to Cougar Creek

Towering walls in the upper canyon.

The fourth of July: a holiday on which we celebrate our independence. Nick, Shaun and I set out to the desolate desert of southern Idaho to do just that. Meeting up with a great group of California boaters -- Bill, Mike, Tony, and Herb -- we packed light and set off to explore the 70 miles of remote canyon of the Jarbidge-Bruneau river system. We put on with flows of 580 and took off with flows of 490 during a four day trip. We had five IKs and a Puma R2.

Thursday night was gear shakedown for the Washington crew at Bruneau Dunes State Park. A few final D-rings, gear distribution, and a little beer got us in the mood. When Shaun went down 40lbs of gear playing guts, Nick and I knew our trip was going to be great. We were up early, arranging shuttle and sorting out vehicles. At last we were off to the takeout, where we promptly had a flat tire on Nick's truck. Luckily, Tony's rig had a matching spare, so we took it just in case and were off to Murphy Hot Springs.

Confluence of East and West Forks Jarbidge: our putin.

At the putin we sorted a little redundant gear out of loads. We launched around noon. We didn't have to wait long for the canyon walls to rise up and the hoodoos to tower over us.

Herb, Nick, and Tony in the early canyon.

Herb and Tony watch the walls emerge from the hillside.

The CA Crew soaks up the sun.

Nick and Shaun below a typical drop on the first day.

The CA Crew again.

The first several hours of canyon contain mostly class II-III drops and swift corners. There was little wood in this upper stretch, and we made quick time as we soaked up the scenary. Needless to say, these photos do not do justice to the scenic majesty of this remote and pristine canyon.

Herb on a corner.

The CA Crew in the canyon.

Herb basks in the scenary.

Bill and Mike in the R2.

Shaun runs the gnar.

Shaun likes the run so far, I think.

Nick floats in the canyon.

One of many scenic trees in the canyon.

Eventually, the whitewater builds, first with the drop shown below. This section of the canyon is a bit tighter and more constricted, and leads quickly into Sevy Falls.

Nick in the first marked class IV drop. Easy at this flow, but a wicked corner at higher water.

Bill and Mike in the R2.

One of my favorite corners on the Jarbidge.

Nick and Shaun: committed.

Sevy Falls is really a short slide on river right, moving center above a boulder seive/fence. At these flows, the fan rock was a bit too exposed for our comfort, so the IKs portaged while the R2 crew decided to go for it.

Video: Bill and Mike R2 Sevy Falls

Bill and Mike drop into Sevy Falls. The wood was very much in play.

The crew comes through a typical III drop.

We reached camp in the late afternoon. We chose Cougar Creek, and it turned out to be one of the better-established camps on the Jarbidge. A short side hike up the shoulder gave us great views down canyon, but it was clear the hike to the arch would be a tortuous bushwhack through the late summer seeded grasses.

Looking up Cougar Creek from camp.

Downriver from the mouth of Cougar Creek.

Nick unpacks in the sheltering shade of the junipers, Cougar Creek camp.

We went to bed wondering what to expect in the morning, when we would face Wally's Wallow, John's Jollies, The Maze, and Jarbidge Falls. I, for one, couldn't wait.

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