Aug 3, 2016

Addison's Scale, Gear List, Owyhee River


I've been done with my Owyhee trip for a week now. Since starting work on the Oregon Desert Trail late last year it's been my goal to hike/packraft the entire 750 miles. This Owyhee chunk has me up to 425 miles, and I'll complete the trail in September with the section between Bend and Plush, Oregon.

For a packraft alternate in the Owyhee canyon, I'll be putting together specifics on which sections are suitable at low water to paddle; from 3 Forks to the area just after Iron Point I would recommend paddlers be comfortable scouting and running low flow to at least Class III. From Five Bar to 3 Forks and from Iron Point on I think less experienced paddlers would be fine (200 cfs and less). Stay tuned for more details.

All this rating of rapids in a remote canyon however is a bit of a faulty science. After talking with Kirk and length about what a Class III looks like road-side, compared to a Class III in a canyon days away from civilization, it seems like there could be a better rating system. Not all rapids are equal depending on your surroundings. 

He shared this video with me about Addison's scale that separates rapids or rivers into ratings based on the difficulty, danger, and exposure. Based on this rating boaters can get a much better picture of the true risk involved in a rapid or river.



For example, with the trip I just completed at low flow on the Owyhee, there wasn't too much difficulty in the rapids, definitely some maneuvering and scouting, so I'd rate it a difficulty of Class III. The danger - risk of injury or death, was also in the realms of 3, however I think some of the portages may have been 4, getting around The Ledge, Half Mile, and Widowmaker involved some serious rock scrambling, lifting and lowering of the boat, climbing...even being very careful I slipped and cracked my tailbone good on one portage. Risk can be high, so I'm inclined to go with a 4. As for exposure, you are far far away from help on the Owyhee. If I had to hike out it would be days to help. I had a Delorum Inreach beacon, so that could have brought help to me, but that could take at least a day as well. So for exposure I would give the Owyhee a C rating. So for the Owyhee at low flow I give it a Class III-4-C rating.


Now for my gear list. I definitely had some extras that I should have brought, 4 pairs of socks??? Don't know how that happened. I brought 2 throw bags, didn't need 2. So below is mostly what I brought, but leaving off the extraneous things that I regretting bringing.

ItemSpecific ItemWeight
PackSix Moon Designs Flex Pack 51 oz
PackraftAlpacka Llama with Cargo Fly8 lbs (with added thigh straps, back band and other modifications)
PaddleWerner Player 4 piece40.5 oz
HelmetSweet Protection Strutter14.1 oz
PFDAstral Hybrid (no longer available, sob, I want one!! I used Kirk's for the trip)
Throw bagKirk made a small one
Bow bagKirk made me one
Patch kitTenacious tape, aqua seal, boat patches
Sleeping PadGossamer Gear Air Beam 3/4 Wide (Air Beam is not available anymore)11.7 oz
Sleeping BagWestern Mountaineering Ultralight 20 degree29 oz (I need to get a summer quilt, this was too warm)
Ground ClothTyvek5 oz
ShelterSix Moon Designs Deschutes Cuben Fiber7 oz (I should have brought a free standing net tent)
StakesTOAKS Titanium stakes x61.3 oz
PolesBlack Diamond Z-Poles with foam for tips when storing in boat17 oz
Cook PotTOAKS Titanium 1100ml Pot4 oz
SpoonOboz plastic spoon/spork1 oz
StoveTOAKS Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove7.9 oz
French PressI bought at REI 10 years ago, I use plastic inner cup
Water ContainersPlatypus Hoser 1.8 liter3.4 oz
Vapur 1 Liter Bottle1.4 oz
Water FilterSawyer Mini2 oz
Water treatmenteye dropper of bleach
Camera/PhoneGalaxy S55.1 oz
Lifeproof Case1.6 oz
GoPro 3 (3 batteries)(I lost my GoPro day 2)
External BatteryAnker 2nd Gen Astro E510.9 oz
HeadphonesGeneric
USB charger & 2 charging cordsVerizon7 oz
GPS/BeaconDeLorum InReach7 oz
UmbrellaSix Moon Designs Silver Shadow8 oz
HeadlampPetzel Tikka RZP Rechargable Headlamp4 oz
Stuff SacksOR UltraLight Dry Sack1.6 oz
KnifeGerber US11 oz
Bag LinerTrash compactor bag
JacketMontbell Alpine Light Down Parka11.8 oz
Patagonia Hoodini4.3 oz
Outdoor Research Helium II5.5 oz
hatHikertrash trucker hat2 oz
Outdoor Research Pinball Hat2.7 oz
First AidMisc
Long sleeve shirtOutdoor Research Reflection sun shirt7.5 oz
PantsOutdoor Research Ferrosi Pant
SkirtPurple Rain Skirt
Long johnsOutdoor Research Essence Tights5.2 oz
SocksX3 pairs Point6 merino socks(should have just brought 1 pair of socks)
ShoesOboz Luna12.6 oz
Luna Sandles - Mono
Rain skirttrash compactor bag
MittensGordini Stash Lite Touch Mitt
GaitersOR Gortex Gaiters10.2 oz

Jul 27, 2016

175.3 miles on the Owyhee River - A solo packrafting adventure on the Oregon Desert Trail

What an adventure! I spent the last 12 days hiking and packrafting on the Oregon Desert Trail in the Owyhee River from the Little West Owyhee at Anderson Crossing to the Indian Springs Campground on Lake Owyhee. It was a total of 141.5 river miles, and 33.8 hiking miles, mostly along the Little West Owyhee to get to the flowing river at 5 Bar.


Water levels at Rome during my trip



Stay tuned for photos, a trip report, gear list and more, but here are a few images, and you can read my daily blog here. (scheduled posts coming daily for another week)

Widowmaker was a bunch of rocks 

Sometimes I had to lower my boat and myself over the rocks

Upper Owyhee

Lots of calm pools to swim in

Fun little Class II & III rapids at low flow



The Oregon Desert Trail endpoint at Indian Springs Campground


Jul 13, 2016

Low Flow Owyhee River


I'm getting ready to hike/packraft 175 miles of the Owyhee River on the Oregon Desert Trail.

Patagonia just published a great series of photos from ultra runner Jeff Browning's run in this section of the ODT in May, He had much higher flows, and where the "trail" follows the rim of the canyon for many miles, I'll stay in the river and float/walk my way downstream.

Did I mention it's my job to develop the Oregon Desert Trail?? I'm in heaven!


It's a heavy load, but my Six Moon Designs Flex Pack seems up to the task. (Unfortunately this prep pack shot doesn't include 7 days of food. yet Ouch.)

Head on over to my hiking blog for updates later next week (if I get reception out there).

Mar 29, 2016

John Day River

It was the weekend, and adventure was at our fingertips.

It has been a fairly wet winter and spring, so when we looked at the water flows around Oregon, we thought it would be a good opportunity to try our luck at some of the desert rivers and creeks. Now we knew the desert rivers were flowing, but were some of the smaller creeks? Many of these are only boatable in the spring, so it was worth a trip out to the John Day area to find out.

We first choose Burnt Creek which runs along the Painted Hills area, one because it would be a stunning float, and two, because why not?



When we got there we first checked out the Painted Hills.


Then soon determined Burnt Creek probably never has enough water to packraft, at least not while all the willows in the creek made for pokey sticks that might sink a packraft. Now a hardshell would be a fun bomb run at high water.

So we looked up the dirt road to the John Day River.



Water flows were 4,400 cfs, plenty for a raft, so plenty for a packraft.

We had neglected to throw a bike in the car, and these roads were so sparsely traveled, that we would need to float the old fashioned way...by walking upstream and floating back to our car.


We found a sweet spot to car camp on the river, and set out for a little hike.



This is a stunning area, and it left us wanting to spend more time over here. It's just over 2 hours from Bend, maybe we'll be back next weekend too!

The next day we packed up our packs for a walk upstream to the next boat launch.


Because there's a fair amount of private property in the area, there aren't many spots to access the river.


Once we got to the Priest Hole put-in, we pumped up our boats. I'm using my new bow bag that Kirk made for me this week. It will help to have small things accessible along our future packrafting trips.


It was a lovely float.


Spring was definitely still in the air, and the wind had a bitter cold hint to it.


There were a couple of splashy Class II sections, but mostly it was a mellow float.

I think we will be back next weekend...this time with our raft!