Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blue River (4.17.11)

Blue River used to be my “go to” run when I first started creek boating. Its technical moves, friendly character, and good flow range make it one of the best stepping stone runs for aspiring class III+/IV boaters in the area. It is much more of a creek than a river, and in fact, was my first experience into that part of the sport that would change my life forever.

The flow range for Blue is quite wide, but it also changes character from one end to the other. At levels of 300cfs to 500cfs, it’s quite technical and stress free. Between 600cfs and 800cfs it fills in nicely and is probably considered the “sweet spot” for most class IV boaters. In my opinion the creek really comes to life once it gets over 900cfs, and starts to have more of a river feel, with more continuous water and bigger features. Even at these higher flows the creek/river bed handles the water well, and most holes will flush you out after a quick surf session if you happened to be trapped by one. I’m not sure what the top end is, but I have been on it once at around 1,500cfs, it was fun but also pretty exciting.

On this day we had ~1100cfs, a super fun flow. We ended up here after a scouting mission of a rarely run creek in the area that revealed levels too high to safely run. We knew that Blue was at a nice juicy flow and would work great as a backup. It was also only about 15 minutes away, so we didn’t spend too much extra time in getting there.





Although there is an upper put-in that starts from Quentin Creek which allows you to run “Food for Thought” (class V), most people put-in at Cook Creek due to the wood and portage around FFT upstream. I’ve done the upper stretch once at around 800cfs, and would only go back up there if flows were lower, since the hole at Food for Thought was pretty nasty and the portage was a pain.

Below Cook Creek, Blue River begins its descent through a series of fun boogie water, and depending on flow is either pool-drop or continuous; at our flow it was definitely moving. Some drops are bigger than others, but for the most part they’re all read & run. The first major drop is S-Turn (aka Pincushion). The whole drop is not visible from above, but it’s super easy to scout from the road on the way up, which we did, so we knew that it was both clear of wood and had already chosen our lines. I think S-Turn is actually easier at these flows since it can be quite trashy when it's lower. I decided to setup for some pics while the others came down. Afterwards, Joe was nice enough to switch spots and get a couple shots of me as well.


Joe halfway through S-Turn



Roman makes the move



Scott enters S-Turn



The author finishes up S-Turn...
(photo by Joe Bushyhead)


...and eddies out below
(photo by Joe Bushyhead)



Roman and Scott relax below S-Turn


Continuing downstream, our next obstacle was going under a couple of large logs propped up above the river. These logs have been here for quite some time and don’t really present much of an issue, but staying away from the right side is advisable since there is a log lying just below the surface. Not far below this is the next major (unnamed) drop. It’s basically a double ledge that goes by entering the first part either hard right or hard left, and the second part pretty much anywhere, although try and avoid the recirculating eddy against the left bank at the bottom. It was nice and juiced up at this level, I ran it right down the middle and it actually felt a little bigger than S-Turn. The rest of the crew followed soon after with good lines as well.

Just below here is a fun mini-gorge that exits through a decent sized hole. As long as you’re left of center you’ll shoot right through. I know of people who have swam out of here at various levels, but it’s pretty rare to get stuck.


The author about to drop into the
hole at the end of the mini gorge.
(photo by Yuliya Drobyshevska; taken on a previous trip at much lower flow)


More fun boogie water continued until we reached a pooled up section above a left-hand bend and an obvious horizon line. The lighting was perfect, so even though scouting wasn’t absolutely necessary, I held up the others so I could get some pics. After setting up and pointing out the preferred line for them, they drove through the small ledge hole one by one without issue. More fun water continued as we moved further downstream.


Scott digs in



Joe bustin' through



The crew in the run-out to the drop pictured above


The next big drop is a series of three ledges. This one I did want to scout since wood had been an issue in the past. Also, since I hadn’t run it at this level in a while, I couldn’t remember how sticky the holes were. With that, I jumped out of my boat armed with my throwbag and a camera. Scott’s recollection was that everything went nicely down the right, and upon further inspection, this appeared to be the case. There were a few wave/holes but everything seemed to be kicking out pretty well. I gave the others the signal and took some shots as they came through.


Joe enters the three tiered drop


Joe lining up the first tier (just below him)



Scott comes out of the first tier


Between here and the confluence with Tidbits Creek were a couple more fun drops, but for the most part much more mellow than the stuff upstream. Soon enough the road bridge came into view, where we had planned to take out. You can actually continue another mile and all the way to the reservoir, but there are only a couple of good drops, and the last (and best) one was currently covered by the filled reservoir.


Roman and the author run one
of the last drops above the reservoir
(photo by Yuliya Drobyshevska; taken
on a previous trip at much lower flow)




The final stretch above the reservoir
(photo by Yuliya Drobyshevska; taken
on a previous trip at much lower flow)



Instead of continuing down we decided to go checkout Lookout Creek, which was supposedly class 3(4). Unfortunately, on the drive up we noticed a fair bit of wood, so decided it probably wasn’t worth it. So instead, we loaded up, drank a beer in celebration of our day, and headed home. Even though Blue River doesn’t provide quite the excitement it once did during my early boating years, it’s still a great run, especially if you bring a playboat instead. It also brings back lots of memories of good times with old friends.

The head-cam footage from our run down Blue River:

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