With perfect flows, a chance to buy cheap oregon gas, and a low elevation guarantee of a snowy shuttle drive to boot, the list of reasons to do this run goes on longer than the actual meat of the gorge itself. That being said, if we had actually taken the right shuttle road to put-in we probably wouldn't have had as much fun on our adventure. Lesson learned: always make sure the person who knows where you are going is in the cab of the truck (as opposed to riding in the back). After driving through snow for half an hour, and reaching the end of the decommissioned logging road we committed to the virtual cliff laced with overhead huckleberry bushes.. knowing what we were in for.
Glad to be on the water.
As foretold, the river was mellow with a steady flow and class III character all the way to the gorge.
The scenery was very Oregon-esque with moss covered walls and lots of enormous logs along the bank, as well as beautiful old growth forest. After wondering when the river was going to finally drop, we arrived at the first major horizon line. There was lots of gradient, but the character of the river made for suprisingly forgiving class IV+ drops. In the first rapid, we all ran left through a sort of sneak line (due to ample flow) and aimed for a center boof.
Miguel hit the left boof with good results as well. A couple of more ledge drops downstream brings you to the next rapid, which has a nasty undercut cave/recirculating hole. In our efforts to avoid it, we all took a line to the left, managing to bounce off a very unfriendly underwater rock shelf. This has potential for nasty pin situations, and should be taken seriously. J.R. wisely took a safer line to the left of ours.
J.R.'s Left Line
This led into another fun wavetrain that finished the crux of the gorge.
Around the bend we came upon another great class IV rapid which we ran along the left wall.
After this the gorge let up, very abruptly. As it opened up we all figured it was over: short, and sweet. Luckily, there was one more additional rapid waiting on a right-hand bend downstream to spice things up.