Sunday, June 6, 2010

Upper Van Duzen (Class III)

You know those days when you are stoked to be on the water, paddling a new run with good friends...Those are the days that we paddlers live for: the sheer appreciation of living on a beautiful planet.  

After hearing reports from my trusted source Silent Ed, who paddled this run when he was a 13 year old beginner I knew it would be a good run.  This section is also well regarded in Dick Schwind's 1974 West Coast River Touring guidebook, although he recommends putting in another 3 miles of class II up at the confluence of the East & West Duzen.  We decided to keep it short and sweet, paddling the bridge to bridge section containing all the class III.

Ed told me there was only a couple of Rapids, so I wasn't surprised when we quickly arrived at the first one.  Johnny Chin bombs into the mellow class III.

Fitting through the Pinch

The beautiful upper Van Duzen

The run was rather steady at our flow, (275 @ Put-In; 450 @ Take-out) with only a few big pools.

We arrived at the second class III, a tongue that boofs you over a rock.

Typically when I paddle the Duzen (Grizzly Creek Run), its brown & muddy.  This headwaters section has much better water quality and takes you through a very peaceful area.  Several large creeks enter from the left, nearly doubling the flow.

Fun little rapids continue downstream

Sandstone is the primary rock, soft, smooth and forgiving.  Blooming asetum Succulents line the cliffs. 

Relaxing in one of the pools.

Phil Cruizin on the Duzen

We finally arrived at the take-out bridge and rapid, 3.8 miles later.  This drops over a series of sandstone ledges and required sticking to the flow.

Phil enters the Ledges

Phil ready to boof

With a mellow bike shuttle, pretty country and good company this is one stretch of river that deserves attention.  If you are a class III boater you will enjoy it, and should consider putting in upstream for more warmup and scenery.  We enjoyed the run and ended with a Jam, Mad River Butte in the background.

Take-out is reached by turning right onto the Van Duzen River Rd. off HWY 36 just east from Dinsmore, and driving about 8 miles to the first bridge.  Put-in is 4 miles up, or continue to the upper put-in at the confluence of West & East Van Duzen (bring a map to find it, its not totally roadside).

Flows were 1500 on the Duzen @ Bridgeville, but it was June so a good proportion of water was coming from the top of the drainage.  This run could handle much higher flows, and may develop excellent playspots with more juice in the rapids.  Warm sunny days in March and April are your best bet for this run.  Recovery pools would be nonexistent at high water though.  The water had dropped at least a foot since the night before we paddled, very typical Duzen.

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