May 13, 2013

North Umpqua/Steamboat Creek

The weekend felt like summer, so a trip to the North Umpqua River seemed like a good idea. Leaving Bend on Friday afternoon, we headed south west until we pulled into Whistling Bend camp site on the river near Glide. Friends from Bend were meeting up with a whole crew of people from around the state, and had taken over half the campground. All had come down to raft and play disc golf for the weekend.

A late night and early morning had us blurry-eyed at breakfast the next day, but we successfully loaded boats, gear, paddles and people into cars, worked out shuttles and had put on the water by about 11am. Between us we had 2 rafts, 4 IKs, a hard shell kayak, and a packraft.

I choose to packraft this upper section from Boulder Flat to Horseshoe Bend again, Kirk took his playboat. This is my third river run in my new drysuit! An early birthday present from Kirk last month has been much appreciated in the cold spring waters, especially since I swam a few times in the Metolius River last weekend...ugg, still don't like swimming.

The miles passed quickly and Kirk caught a few waves, surfing for a good long while. We are both excited at the whitewater play park that is slated to be built in the middle of Bend on the Deschutes River. When that goes in there should be a couple great waves within stumbling distance from our house.

The air was pure summer, fragrant with blossoming trees and oh so warm.

Kirk and I pulled out at Horseshoe Bend and most of the others continued down another stretch of river. We had plans! There are several creeks in the area that have great packrafting potential, and we wanted to do a little scouting and basking in the sun.

First we drove up Steamboat Creek to the lower falls. At higher water (600-700cfs), the falls are runnable, but what got me really excited was the 1.5 mile stretch below the falls down to the confluence with the North Umpqua, it looked like a gorgeous, serene little float. We decided to boat it on Sunday.

Lower Steamboat Falls

Upstream on Steamboat Creek is about 7 miles of runnable water with a few bigger rapids on it. There is a gorge with 3-4 class IV and one class V.  Kirk has run this section a few times and we decided to come back and do an overnight at some lower water (300-600cfs) I should be able to navitage the big rapids or easily portage them.

Next we hopped in the car to check out Wolf Creek Falls. We drove up the Little River Road out of Glide, making another note that this would be a packraftable river opportunity. Granted there were lots of houses overlooking the watershed, but the waterway looked beautiful. And, it could use a little more water.

Little River
A mile hike in had us at the base of Wolf Creek Falls, a 125' double drop. Very nice indeed on a warm afternoon.
Wolf Creek Falls Upper Drop
Wolf Creek Falls Both Upper & Lower
We eventually made our way back to camp and another festive evening.

We slept in Sunday morning and slowly made our way back to Steamboat Creek...but not before some strong coffee and a walk along the river in camp. We put on right below the falls and started our very short, but awesome little float.

A few of the small rapids seemed bigger down here than when we looked down from the road, but the splashy water felt great.

The waters were emerald green and clear. A simply wonderful float.

At the confluence I hopped out of the boat and walked back to the car, the benefits of doing a short run!

On the drive back to Bend we stopped to look at Watson Falls, a 272' drop.

Watson Falls Photo from BLM Website
While we didn't get in a ton of boating this weekend, we scouted some great potential runs and marveled that winter had passed so fast.

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