May 29, 2014

A Tropical Memorial Day Weekend on Steamboat Creek - Day 1

We went to the tropics over our long weekend.

Yep, we drove there in about three hours. Ok,tropics may be stretching it, but the weekend was filled with crystal clear water, some in deep pools of jade, with warm blue skies, dripping moss walls and little flowers everywhere. 

We went back to Steamboat Creek. 

I love that place. Kirk decided to take his hard shell kayak, although after all the portaging we had to do, next time I'm sure he'll take his packraft. 

Last weekend we were so enamored with the few miles we did on the upper section, that we determined with three days we would run the whole 10 mile section down to the confluence with the North Umpqua River. 

Kirk has run this section in his hard shell a few times, it's definitely a Class V run at higher water levels, but after boating at levels around 500 cfs last weekend, we discovered the rapids became more pool drops, and the rock ledges exposed at lower flows would make portaging the rough stuff easier for me. And why not have a grand adventure? Lets go!

Look at that...our three days of gear fit in our boats! This is my first time using the cargo fly on more than a day trip, and while the idea is brilliant, there are a few things I would change about the set-up if we were installing the cargo fly ourselves (as we may do with future packrafts). The zipper on the back of the boat is just short enough to make getting the dry bags in and out of the boat a bit of a harrowing experience. I've learned if you compress the long dry bags enough before putting them into the boat, it won't seem like you will rip out the zipper at any moment, but why not make the zipper just a few inches longer? Why not put it on the inside tube on the inside of the boat? Why not make the zipper on the dry bags longer as well? Anyway, I'm still learning how to pack the boat but these thoughts were heavy on my mind as I feared ripping out the zipper while packing.

We soon discovered the water levels had dropped to about 300cfs from 500. While we weren't scraping bottom, I would not advise trying this run at lower water levels. In fact 500-600cfs seems like the perfect level.

As is was Memorial Day weekend, we encountered people. The creek touches the road off and on over the 10 miles, the first two miles are practically road-side and as there are lots of beautiful swimming holes it was no surprise that we had an audience at times. 

When water levels are this low, it's a good idea to scout even small rapids and pour overs, the last thing I want is an errant stick or rock to poke a hole in my boat. Wearing our dry suits with just a tank top, shorts and socks on under proved to be quite comfortable. I was worried about over heating, but the water temps kept us glad we had on that protection.

Kirk going off the lip of the drop.

Just look at the color of that water!

Kirk can surf anywhere.

After we had gone about four miles, it was time to find camp, and when we encountered this rapid we decided it was time! The creek diverted in two channels, the above channel about a 15-20' drop that looked too hairy at this water level, and the other...

was partially blocked by a large log. I believe Kirk would have run either channel had he been boating with a more experienced kayaker. I haven't had much experience with white water rescues and need to spend some time doing that. Anyway, it was a beautiful area to hang out and even though we didn't see any flat ground, we figured we could make camp work on the large exposed rock ledges near the falls.

I decided to keep my dry suit on and go swimming below the falls. Keeping some air in your suit makes bobbing along in the water pretty fun!

Kirk discovered there was a perfect campspot just downstream a few hundred yards, so we gathered up our things and made our way down the banks of the creek to a picturesque little spot. 

We made friends

The next morning I spent a few hours reading and sipping coffee on the rocks, it is my vacation after all!

Stay tuned for day 2...

1 comment :

  1. Looks like a great run... Frogs, surf-holes and sweet campsites. Nicely done. U rock that pack-raft more than u admit!