Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's beginning to look like Christmas on the BBush

Saturday, Mike Glass, Aaron Nudelman and I headed up into the Santiam Drainage to run the Breitenbush River in what was probably the last time it will have enough water until Spring. Although, as of the writing of this post, the BBush flow has risen to over 500 CFS, so who knows.

We were greeted by balmy 35 degree temps and snow at the take-out and were all glad we had drysuits. The run itself is an 8 mile long Class IV that drops 80 FPM... the upper 6 miles is pretty tight, but the lower 2 miles is much wider. Even at low flows, the action was pretty constant, though the 3rd quarter of the run was pretty uneventful.

Words can't describe this run, though I'll do my best... (see also Jason Rackley's write-up at http://www.oregonkayaking.net/ under the "Rivers" tab) - suffice it to say this was one of the coolest runs I've ever been on.

Paddlers are immediately faced with a drop just a bit after putting on... The Slot was a pretty impressive drop, even at low flows and features an undercut right side. There is a nice boof flake at river center, but it is pretty boily below.

Looking upstream at The Slot

Mike taking his "probe" position very seriously...

Below The Slot, paddlers go through some great technical rapids and drops... pretty much one after another. Next up is The Notch, which at this flow was only marginally runnable. Normally, paddlers run this on righer right, just off the old stump wedged into the drop. That line was, however, without water. After looking at the drop and discussing possible options, we all portaged, due to the high probability of getting pushed into "the notch", that was less than a paddle blade wide and had definite pin potential.

Looking right into "The Notch"

Another piece of excellent real estate on the BBush

Aaron was all smiles on our run... he was as "on" as I have ever seen him!

I don't know if I enjoyed the paddling or the views more...

There was a lot of wood on the run... one barely manageable limbo log, another mandatory portage and a tricky log that was wedged into the lower section of a drop... My buddy Mike found it and got pinned sideways... luckily I saw him get stuck and wave me off, because both of us in that drop would have been pretty dicey. I was able to hop out of my boat with my throw rope and run down stream, only to have Mike flip over the log and roll up... I'm glad he was okay, but I'm sure it took another hour for my heart rate to slow down. Both Aaron and I were able to run the far right line on the drop, which required a quick zigzag, which we both executed cleanly. After this little episode, the action slowed down a bit until paddlers reach the concrete bridge across the BBush, which signals the final 2 miles of the run and more non-stop fun.

Looking down stream at the mandatory portage

Mike tries to keep warm during one of our portages

Lots of little Class III drops lead up to Barbell, which we all ran on river left down a REALLY fun boulder garden... you can also run the right side of the island, but at the current flow, it didn't look very good. Several more Class III/III+ drops come before Woo Man Chu, which is the last drop of the run and WHAT A DROP! We ran the far left line and, with a little speed and forward lean, you shoot off the lip and drop about 8 feet into a small, boily pool... TONS OF FUN!
A short paddle downstream places you at the gauging station and the take-out!

This is a FANTASTIC run and I'm glad I got to experience it with two great friends...

Until next time, get out there and explore!

The author... all smiles and "plus" one goatee after a successful run down the BBush

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