Feb 13, 2015

Packrafting the Chewaucan River

We finally got in our boats last weekend...warm rainy weather is making snow levels suck, and besides, rain on the snow means water in the creeks! Especially since a lot of our high desert creeks only run once a year...we looked East to find a potential river to run.

Load up the adventure-mobile!
Enter the Chewaucan River. At just over a 2 hour drive from Bend it was close enough, but without a gauge on the river we weren't sure if there would be enough flow...and since it had been raining throughout the state last week we thought chances were good.

I had been up there backpacking a few months ago, and noted that the 10-mile stretch along the road would be a pretty little section to try when water levels were good.

Kirk had decided to take his hardshell creek boat, but I'm faithful to my little yellow packraft, so we loaded up the car with a bike to run shuttle and took off on Saturday morning.

Sure enough, when we turned right into the river canyon at Paisley, OR, we saw water! Actually, the river was pumping. All that rain and snow melt had swollen the river, and we noted the lack of eddies, several munchy holes and what looked to be a channel primarily free from trees or hazards. Score!

We drove up to where the road started to leave the river, about 10 miles in, parked the car and hiked our boats down to the water, having decided to just boat a few miles back to our camp at Jones Crossing.

But a quick look at the map told us there was a least another 10 miles up stream we could try next time. The road was too muddy for my little Honda Fit, but we could walk in if needed. There's a reason they call them packrafts!

Note the barb wire Fence crossing the river, we paddled under three that were passable.

The wide meadow where we started meandered through what looks to be primarily a cow pasture, and I couldn't help but think as we boated down and got into some bouncy Class II rapids, that all those cow paddies were churning in the water that was now splashing of my face. Ugg.

It was a quick run, and before we knew it were back to camp, no hazards, a clear channel, and some fun bouncy waves right before camp. Nice!

Sunrise with coffee. Yes please.
A nifty little trick Kirk taught me: put a stick in the ground were water levels are, and you can see if the river is rising or falling. The next morning water levels had dropped quite a bit.
We're digging our new Hyperlite Mid
And then what did I spy across the river? Why a National Recreation Trail! The Fremont Trail meanders a beautiful 175 miles in these mountains. One day I will return for you.

It was a beautiful day on the water. The forecast called for rain all weekend, but we didn't see a drop.

The river was mellow for the most part.

It started to get a bit choppier as we got a few miles within range of Paisley. Boulder gardens and such...

Don't drink the cow dung water!

All and all a very successful weekend, considering we weren't sure if we would find enough water to boat. Without a gauge, it's a gamble, and spring is the most likely time for success. Or a crazy warm and dry winter like we're having this year.

And as luck would have it, we were right around the corner from Summer Lake Hotsprings. A soak after our paddle? Don't mind if I do.

Jan 4, 2015

A New Year Ski Tour

We headed to the Cascades over the new year to take advantage of a good weather window. 

Camping below Broken Top was incredible. 

Here are a few pics from our four day ski tour.

The recent storm & cold temps were great for the ski.

Kirk is using his new Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack.

The skiing was great until temps just over freezing caused this to happen.

Well worth the clumpy snow!

We are also using our new Hyperlite Mid.

The view from our tarp.

This mountain is constantly changing, much better than TV.

Looking back toward Mt. Bachelor.

Nov 8, 2014

Continental Divide Trail 2015

I've been writing more on my other blog lately...this winter I'm preparing for a northbound thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. This hike will complete my triple crown of long distance trails in the U.S. and, more importantly, give me the chance to disappear into the wilderness for about 5 months. Can't wait!

I hope to do a lot of boating this winter, but many of my trips will be on two feet...like last weekend in the Ochoco Mountains near Bend:

Check in at www.sherahikes.wordpress.com throughout the winter if you are interested in the hike, and follow me when I start from the Mexican border mid-April and start hiking to Canada!


Sep 4, 2014

Paddle Camping on Smith Reservoir

Kirk had paddled on Smith Reservoir (McKenzie River drainage) as a kid growing up in the Oregon valley, and had always wanted to return. A paddle-in-only camp lay at the far end of the lake, and upstream? Packrafting potential.

We left summer in Bend to come to a drizzly-to-downpour kind of day on the rainy side of the mountains. It was ok though, Kirk remembered the dry tops...I however, didn't bring any rain gear. I was caught up in the summer dream.

The reservoir is two miles long, which for a packraft seems like a long time. We talked of sails and other kinds of boats that travel more effeciently on lakes, but all in all it was a wonderful float and our arms got a workout!

There are acutally 17 campspots at the end of the lake, many up off the banks of the water since Smith Creek seasonally unleashes a torrent of water into the reservoir. We found a cozy spot, set up camp and got ready to explore the creek.

Now we couldn't find much info on Smith Creek, and water levels were much too low to boat anything on this trip, but scoping it out for the future was the main plan.

We crossed the river in our boats, stashed them in some trees and began picking our way up the mossy boulders.

It started to rain while we were exploring, and the drizzle turned into quite a downpour. Walking on wet mossy rocks is an entirely different sport than hopping along on dry riverbed rocks. Think ankle breakers.

We didn't make it too far when we had to dunk out of the rain, my windshirt just wasn't cutting it.

But at least we had a good view

This creek can PUMP! Look at all those trees. The size of the rocks and size of the wood in the drainage lead us to believe this is a waterway to hit around the 600, 1,000 cfs range. Anything bigger would be quite a challenge.

We were waiting out the rain a good hour when we both came to the realization that rain on this side of the mountains can last all day. So, we headed back to camp knowing we had a dry tent to duck into.

I found walking in the water was more stable, and we slowly inched our way back.

The rest of the day passed, lots more rain, lots of napping, reading and just being. The evening dried out a bit and we were able to enjoy a campfire until night drove us into our sleeping bags.

We will be back, oh yes, we will be back. Probably hitting this in June or July could put us at the right water flows to boat some of Smith Creek, we'll have to let you know how that goes in the future!