Sunday, November 20, 2005

Top Tye

The author runs Box Drop on the Top Tye

The Top Tye is one of the classic creek runs in the Skykomish drainage, boasting everything from clean waterfalls to narrow chutes, blind ledges and steep boulder gardens. The run can begin at the upper putin off FR 67 or at the Deception Falls park off Hwy 2, or even at Box Drop. We opted for the Deception Falls putin for our run. Flows looked good for a first run (mine) with 5000 cfs in the Sky. I'd been excited to hit this creek for at least six months, but somehow, I'd missed every trip to the run and I couldn't wait to finally get on it!

Putting in at the Park means running Monkey Cage as your warmup. This fantastic waterfall is a short walk from the parking lot, and offers a fantastic auto-boof on the right into the pool below.

Fish boofs Monkey cage

The author on the autoboof flake

Shortly after Monkey Cage comes Crack in the Earth, one of the most unique rapids in the region. This stunning bedrock river feature deserves a careful scout and excellent safety, but is commonly run. We opted for a quick portage on the right, setting back up for the sticky ledge hole below the drop. This ledge has some legendary carnage stories to its credit, including some epic hole rides by members of our crew. Today, things were clean with Chatham nailing the boof on the left.

David rides a tailstand out of the sticky ledge below Crack in the Earth

Below this ledge, bouncy III keeps things moving as you approach Log Choke Falls. This class VI mess of bedrock slabs, old growth timber, and severe consequences can be scouted and portaged on the right. Log Choke leads directly into Box Drop, which is simply a fantastic rapid. A crisp eddy turn to charge river left will put you on the line here, dropping over the initial slide before that autoboof flake sends you airborne for the landing.

Fish styles Box Drop

Chatham makes it look easy

The author on Box Drop

Class IV boogie water below box drop culminates in an eight or nine foot ledge, Boof. I had my only swim of the day just above this ledge on some silly little rock, and missed seeing the line over this ledge while climbing back in my boat. I charged it far left, went over completely vertical, and was surprised to be in my boat. My elation quickly dissipated as I realized I wasn't going anywhere, and the side surfing began in earnest. Sculling brace, draw stroke ... nothing was working. I finally put my bow into the curtain and rode the bow stand out to clear the ledge. I was stoked to have pulled that off after just swimming.

We continued down through more fun III-IV boulder gardens until reaching Paranoia. The entrance looked like a go, but the swim would have been epic -- regardless of whether you made the entrance, the hole at the big ledge was huge. A swim there would leave only one chance to re-right before dropping over a long boulder-strewn drop waiting just downstream. We eyed the line for a moment, talked big, but promptly walked. A quick scout of the drop below Paranoia and we were back in our boats. David took a fantastic line that looked nonexistent: just right of a fan rock, goal-posting the fan rock and a huge pillow off the right wall. Fish and I opted for the ledge left of the fan rock, which was a fun move and a nice hole to punch.

David runs the drop below Paranoia

Fish below Paranoia

The next noticeable drop is Triple Drop, and Fish summed this one up: "This is everything a rapid should be!" Technical, steep, multi-move line -- it's a signature drop. We opted to enter left, and I was glad I took an extra moment scouting the second ledge. I hit the first ledge just where I wanted to be to counter the water pushing hard left at the lip of the second ledge. This set up the move on the third ledge, falling off it just left of the exposed shoulder and sliding right above the curler. Nothing feels better than picking the exact line you want and then being on that line. What a great drop! Fish had an interesting line as well, opting to swim the first ledge out of his boat. I think he just wanted to practice catching eddies without a boat, but maybe it was unintentional. He recovered above the second ledge and styled the rest of the drop.

Chatham in Triple Drop

Fish runs the s-turn route with additional style points

The author in Triple Drop

We bombed on down the rest of the run, with a bit of excitement at the next IV boulder garden, which offers some big holes on the left. David got stalled in a hole and had an insta-flip. How I avoided that fate I'll never know, as I was completely stopped in first of three big ledge holes at the bottom the rapid. I managed to claw my way out just in time to see David climbing back in his boat. The active blade: it's all you'll even need.

The last drop was clean and fun as well, with David showing an excellent entry move on the extreme right that set up the line perfectly.

Fish looks worried about that wall ...

This is a spectacular creek, with an incredible collection of rapids and scenery. If you haven't hit this run yet, make it a point to do so! Much of the run can be scouted from Hwy 2 and FR 67. See AW for details on shuttle logistics.

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