The e-mail from Ryan Morgan definitely intrigued me. I was already on my way through the Portland area and a paddling detour sounded like fun.
I was in the process of moving a load of furniture and treasured junk to my parent's house, so my car made a very stylish, yet impractical shuttle rig.
We ran a short shuttle to the trailhead, rigged up our pack systems, and started walking. My system worked amazingly well after I made a few adjustments on the trail. Ryan had a lower-profile homemade system that also got the job done, although he was in a little pain by the time we reached the put-in.
The run started out with tight, shallow boulder gardens with a fair share of mank throughout. After a few hundred yards, we arrived at a horizon line. This was the first portage that would certainly go at higher water, but the channel spread out too much for us to safely scrape down. The portage was very quick and painless and we were back to bouncing through rocks again before we knew it.
The first half-mile was a little junky with two such portages but would clean up nicely with more water. Eventually we reached the slides section of the run which started off with a portage around a slide into an undercut. After that one, we didn't have to get out of our boats again for the rest of the run. The gradient continued with countless fast slides and a handful of fun ledges and boulder gardens.
After about three miles of the good stuff, the gradient tapered off to the 100 fpm range, which was pretty low considering our volume of just a couple hundred cfs. We boogied down through a long class II/III paddle-out to the take out where Ryan's car awaited.
At our flows, we took a little over two hours to complete the run with no scouting and only a couple portages. At higher flows, Ryan took the same time with lots of scouting. At high water, the run could possibly be completed in under an hour. The hike in is certainly the most difficult part of it all.
The big downside to this run is access (duh). Right now the run requires a four-mile hike in and special permission from land owners, which Ryan was able to coordinate for us. Right now WKCC is working on getting permission to cross property and possibly even open the gate during the paddling season. If we can get this worked out, this will quickly become a very popular run. The road is in great shape and continues up the river for another five miles, all of which is runnable whitewater. Do whatever you can to support the opening of this run, and please be respectful of landowners.