Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beaver Creek Falls - Park & Huck (2.20.11)

The author runs Beaver Creek Falls
(photos by Jacob Cruser, stitched by me)

After a long day on the SF Coquille (the day before), I was looking forward to spending my Sunday either lying around the house or boating something close to home with minimal time commitments. After talking with Jacob Cruser, it looked like Sweet Creek might be in at lowish, but still runnable, flow. Being only an hour from my house I was easily convinced.

Our level for the day (~6.75' and falling)

Since we would be coming from different towns, the plan was to meet at the Homestead Trailhead, the takeout for Sweet Creek. Amazingly, we arrived about 2 minutes apart, and after a quick bathroom break, we headed up the trail to check the level in the crux section of the gorge. As we started up the trail it became clear that this was the lowest I had seen it, and I hoped for the best as we continued upstream. Now at the heart of the gorge, things weren’t looking good. You could certainly get down, but it would be a scrapey affair. The biggest concern, and one that persuaded me to not run it, was the drop where I had been vertically pinned on a previous trip at higher flow (see here). It looked much worse, with a fine line to avoid the same one that had entrapped me, but for me the fun factor didn’t outweigh the risk. After reviewing the line options, Jacob also agreed, and we decided to throw in the towel on running Sweet Creek.

What to do now? Well we could run laps on the lowest two drops, which could be fun, but they certainly weren’t at an optimal flow, and the idea would have been more about not getting skunked. Then I made the suggestion that we should go check-out Beaver Creek Falls, a couple miles upstream, and only a short drive away. I had heard of it being run and knew it was ~25’ tall, but I had never seen it myself and was kinda curious to. However, I was pretty sure it would be too low as well, since it’s also on Sweet Creek. Luckily Jacob, who is always looking for a new drop to checkout/run, was more than game to see what it looked like.

A nice map I swiped off the internet. It shows the location
of Beaver Creek Falls in relationship to Sweet Creek.

We soon arrived at the pullout where a short trail led to the lip of the falls. Beaver Creek Falls is actually the confluence of Sweet Creek and Beaver Creek. They both converge after plunging ~25’ into the same pool. The Beaver Creek side is essentially one drop that falls near vertical the whole distance, where the Sweet Creek side is a narrow twisty slide into a two-tiered drop. Unfortunately, as projected, the Beaver Creek side was really low, and although it could have been run, it would have been a little silly. We then turned our attention to the Sweet side. After a quick analysis, I didn’t think it looked all that clean, but once again thought it was runnable. Jacob was more optimistic which convinced me to look a little closer. Sure enough he was right, there was a clean line, albeit a tight one. The more I looked at it the more I liked it, it was basically a class V move with only mild consequences, a good one for practicing such lines. With that, we headed back to the car to suit-up.

Beaver Creek Falls

Jacob scouts the Sweet Creek side of the falls

The Sweet Creek entrance to Beaver Creek Falls

One of Jacob's friends from school, Danah Shivley, who had come to spectate and get in some hiking, graciously agreed to help with our little photo shoot. I shouldered my boat down the trail while Jacob decided to run the short lead-in section. By the time I had my camera out and I was setup, he came into view in the eddy above. After giving him the signal, he peeled out and dropped in. Although I was looking through the screen of my camera, I could see that he had a really clean line and was soon sitting in the pool below, fist in the air, showing his own approval of the outcome.

Jacob drops in first

Jacob lines up the bottom tier nicely

It was now my turn. After giving the thumbs up I peeled out of the eddy and lined up. I dropped into the twisty slot and came out with right angle as planned. Coming over the small first tier, I landed in the aerated pocket and immediately set my boat angle for the next (and final) drop. I wasn’t able to plan a boof stroke here, but still dropped cleanly into the base of the drop, also excited about my line. The drop was surprisingly fun, and I looked forward to doing a couple more laps.

The author makes the crux move
in the middle of Beaver Creek Falls
(photo by Jacob Cruser)

Making the turn...
(photo by Jacob Cruser)

...and lining up the bottom drop
(photo by Jacob Cruser)

For Jacob's next run, I decided to set-up shots from down below. This is where Danah really helped us out by signaling back and forth between the two of us that we were ready. On his second attempt he nailed the line once again, entering the base with perfect form.

Jacob prepares for a nice entry


On my second lap I had planned to go for a boof off the final ledge. Unfortunately I took too early of a stroke, which caused my stern to catch/deflect, pitching me forward and vertically into the base of the falls. After a couple of quick roll attempts and a little assistance from Jacob, I sat in my boat and contemplated the crappy line I just had. Not satisfied with it, I wanted one more go-around.

The author finishing up the first tier
(photo by Jacob Cruser)

Taking my boof stroke too early, which I paid for.
(photo by Jacob Cruser)

My third attempt ended up going okay, not as good as the first, but certainly better than the second. I was almost flipped by the swift resurface, but was able to hold on with a small brace.

The author finishing up the drop on lap 3
(photo by Jacob Cruser)

Going deep...
(photo by Jacob Cruser)

...and resurfacing
(photo by Jacob Cruser)

Now that we were both satisfied, we packed up our stuff and headed back to the car. We both celebrated by having a beer, with Jacob’s being served out of his booty; not for a swim on this day, but from a previous time on The Farmlands (his account). The funny thing is that I had also swam that day in the same spot, although the crew I typically boat with has a different prize for swimming, affectionately referred to as “The Dick of the Day”, but that’s another story in and of itself…

I would say that Beaver Creek Falls was a great contingency prize after running Sweet Creek fell through. Both Jacob and I agreed that it would probably be better with more water, and even open up the Beaver Creek side of the falls. I’m certainly planning to head back with more flow, and will probably include a couple laps on it with any future trips to run Sweet Creek proper.

The head-cam footage from my first lap: