Especially considering that this summer it will probably be running into July, its latest season in years!
Disclaimer: Its initial classic reputation became tarnished as numerous epic mis-adventuresome stories began to emerge. However, if you consider the 440 fpm gradient average (300, 475, 525), epic hike-in, beautiful wilderness, amazing bedrock, supreme solitude, and 10 miles of classic Wooley; the initial classic reputation must linger on! Here's the Solution: take this run seriously, get an early start, bring break-down paddles and food make sure you can navigate off-trail, and don't dilly-dally unless you brought gear for a 2-day (Highly Recommended and pleasurable!). The hike-in is the most daunting task!
After 13 trips down Bridge, a couple planned overnighters, and a hike out down Wooley in the dark, this is my favorite creek. It is one of the best waterfall training runs around, with no single drop greater than 20'. This is where I learned to plug-boof waterfalls. If your cup of tea is 20' plus, heed the words of my friend Dave Norell, who stated "none of the falls were big enough!" Time to move to Hood River.
Plan on portaging two drops in the Mank Mile, the slippery log portage comes 1/4 mile down from put-in after the creek flows through a meadow and turns left. It is a mank cascade, runnable without wood. Leif's Purple Toe is a 30' boxed in drop that dished out Mulleticious consequences in 2007. This comes after a calm pool and is portaged right though we've been portaging over a log spanning the drop. Purple Toe Gorge is changing rapidly, any year I expect it will be different. Once past this drop, my stoke level starts to climb.
Immediately below Bobsled Run lies Medicine Falls. This drop is best boofed with right to left momentum. I've pitoned this at low flows, as an underwater shelf juts out from the right. At higher flows this hydraulic is powerful and safety is extremely difficult to set!
This marks the beginning of a high quality stretch of bedrock drops and low angle slides. After a tight right turn and increase of gradient you approach the Rooster and Fucker Rock.
Flowdaddy boofs the first teacup with right angle.
The Toilet Bowl is definitely the stoutest drop on the run. The horizon line is hidden behind a large boulder, and comes during your typical busy-water boulder garden. Be on your toes to scout right and/or portage this one. Maintaining slight left momentum and launching a boof can help you to avoid this amazingly unique and sticky hydraulic. On a previous run I was surfed in this hole, scrambling to stay out of the way of my buddy Andrew Bell, who came off the drop and gave me a funny look as he cleaned the line. I was swirling in the bowl while he eddied out and came to feed me a rope. I then flipped and decided I would rather try to paddle out myself. After surfing the hole across the boil I made it out. Moral: if you're paddling in a 2-pack, consider setting safety for your friend so you don't both wind up in the bowl.
Another time I was in the toilet bowl, my friend Seth Ricker fed me a rope properly...he pulled it while hunched down to maintain a low-center-of-gravity-pull. This kept me from flipping, though he needed a pull from our buddy Matt Fayhee to prevent him from sliding across smoothly polished slippery bedrock. This drop can be portaged rather easily on the right, but be careful as I've seen several paddlers walk right through the enormous poison oak bush here.
Your next scout is the Pearl Necklace, which comes shortly downstream. This is an amazing crack to slide drop, I used to walk it, but now its my favorite. People who walk it can seal-launch into the slide, but I've seen at least 4 different folks slide into this drop while portaging the mossy slab.
Camping at The Wooley Cabin
My new favorite logistics are to plan a 2-day and camp upon arrival at Wooley Creek. This is especially a good method if you haven't heard wood reports yet, or haven't done the run before. The cabin is a 1/4 mile hike up (left bank) Wooley from Bridge Creek Falls. This will allow you plenty of time to scout, set safety and rest before you test your mettle against Wooley.
Flows: between 4 and 4.75' on Salmon @ Somes Bar for first timers. This is a class V run. Above 5.5' it can produce other-worldly hydraulics to Boof or Die! (Even though the Knapps paddled it over 7' once)