Apr 21, 2014

North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette

I did it! I got the cargo fly installed on my boat.

Eager to use it for the first time, I packed both drybags full, Kirk and I loaded up the car, met some friends and headed to the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Wilamette. (not the Class V Miracle Mile, but the Class III run below the gorge)

You may remember our trip here two years ago; it was the site of my first swim in my packraft. Well, two solid years of packrafting had me hoping I would have a different encounter with the river. I was nervous, but I knew my skill had progressed. The water flows would be about the same (approx 1,000 cfs); the first rapid at the put-in where I dumped two years ago would be a good indicator!

When Kirk realized he left his PFD at home and wouldn't be boating at all, instead of second guessing my first packrafting run without him by my side, I became even more convinced I could do this.

With adrenalin rushing, we set off. I followed our friend John through the wave train and deftly avoided the larger holes at the bottom...success!

Jazzed at already doing better than my other trip, I finally relaxed a bit, loosened my death grip on the paddle and began to enjoy the mossy rock bluffs and deep blue color of the water.

The four others on the trip were in hardshells, the packraft still attracts a lot of attention!
There were several Class III rapids that I had avoided last time, but I was in the mood to try them all. Each rapid had a deep calm pool below, so any swimmers could be safely retrieved at the bottom.

Since Kirk was roadside now, he met us at two of the bigger drops.

Here John and I scout the first significant drop
And success! What a feeling!

We floated down to the next spot. Since this stretch is roadside, we had stopped on our way up to scout this one from the road. A log river left made that channel un-runnable, but right in the center looked like a good option.

Joe goes through with success
Another rapid lay right below, Typewriter is probably the hardest rapid on the river, but i bounced right on through, carnage free!

A bit of confustion insued on our take-out spot, but not too much later we were all in our dry clothes and sipping on a few beers while dodging rain drops.

I was thrilled to have successfully boated this section, elated that I felt comfortable even in the rapids, and without Kirk in the river.

Not bad for the first time in my boat since last summer!

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