Saturday, January 1, 2000

Steinacher Creek

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1st D - Raft: Paul Gamache & Alex Wolfgram.

Stienacher creek is a fairly large creek that is a tributary to Wooley creek. To get there, hike up the closed off road that runs along Wooley creek. After around 1 mile, you start dropping down into a valley, this is Stienacher creek. The trail is very easy, and it drops you right to the creek. From there you have about a half mile of fun granite rapids until you reach the falls. You will know when you get there, you can scout on the left hand side. The falls is around 25 feet, it is not vertical, but more of a slide. It is not worth doing this creek if you don't want to run the falls. The falls drops you right into wooley creek, which you can paddle down to the bridge and hike back to your cars. When the Cal Salmon is flowing good (4.5 and up), Stienacher is most likely flowing. If you do not know how to get to Wooley creek, consult Lars's Best Whitewater in California book.

Charlie -Steinacher Clip

Merlin - Steinacher Clip

Bridge Creek

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The lower section of Bridge Creek was run for the first time in 2000 by the Knapp's. Since then this section has become, if not the most popular, the most talked about creek-run in the North Coast region. Bridge Creek flows out of the Marble Mountains and drops into Wooley Creek on its West bank about 9 miles upstream from the confluence with the Salmon. In doing so, both Bridge and Wooley Creek flow through some of the most beautiful untouched forest in the world. Bridge Creek runs very near, and parallel to, the Marble Mountain Wilderness boundary; so close in fact that, once you descend into the drainage your surroundings are virtually indistinguishable from their officially wilderness counterparts. The Marble Mountain Wilderness was established in 1953, making it one of California's earliest. One of the first advocates (with clout) for the preservation of this remarkable area was President Hoover, who had a camp built several miles up Wooley Creek which is accessible only by trail.

The run starts out with a 2.5 mile hike, 1.5 of which is on decommissioned Forest Service road, and 1 last mile that is a 2000 vertical foot bush whacking descent. It has been done in 45minutes but, depending on the size of your group, plan for at least an hour and a half of fun. The put in is just about the perfect place to relax and get a snack in before embarking upon the creek. It is a bedrock pool/slide section that is surrounded by 6 foot in diameter Fir trees, one of the best places ever on a warm spring day.

The creek itself starts out pretty manky. There is a lot or scraping and a few log portages before you get to any significant drop. In fact a lot of the "in between stuff" is of this nature there is a lot of technical route finding, it keeps you in your toes, literally if you space out for a second you will broach; I love it, many people hate it. Again, like most creeks on this area there is a lot of gradient (around 400 ft/mi) and enough wood to build your dream home in Catanoochalatawaga.

Once you get to the first set of drops you see why Bridge Creek has such a great reputation. There are over 20 super high quality bedrock drops along the 3 mile lower section most of which are clean. There are a few must-runners, and one very interesting portage that takes some time (this drop that you portage around is a very dangerous log jam that comes just after a fairly benign looking right hand turn, another good reason to scout if it is your first time down.) The run can be done in a relatively short amount of time, but personal first descenders should allow at least an hour per mile along Bridge Creek.

Once you hit Wooley Creek you will A: feel like your on a river the is the size of the Colorado, B: make much better time. The entire 9 miles of Wooley is world class read and run class IV+. It has very similar characteristics to the Salmon (go figure) and drops through several distinct gorges. This section can be run in around an hour with a good team.

The optimal level for Bridge Creek is still out for debate. My favorite level is around 4.5 ft. on the Salmon River gauge. Some people claim that it is great at 6 ft; one of the things you have to worry about as the water gets high is that the gorges along Wooley Creek can get extremely pushy and they have caused more than one team to abandon their boats and hike out. At any level you want to have a strong team going in, it is a small creek so small groups are obviously better, there is not a lot of eddy room. You should also allow for some extra time, you are going to be a LONG way away from any help so any rescue is going to come from within your team, I have some friends (who after having a bad experience themselves) wont go into Bridge Creek without overnight gear. That being said, plan well and have fun huckin.

Merlin on one of the many drops bridge creek has to offer.

Crapo Creek

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Forks of Salmon local (Cylus) boofs this tricky 12' falls.

Crapo creek is a small drainage located near the confluence of the North Fork and Main Stem of the California Salmon river. Originating in the base of the marble mountian wilderness it flows south towards the Trinity alps. It was first ran in 2002 and since has been run only a handful of times mostly by local paddlers to the Arcata/Humboldt area.

Due to its realatively low elevation and ease of access it is a great creek to do when in the area in the winter and spring. Like its big brother Bridge Creek, Crapo has similiar drops but with more junk in between. There is numerous slides and drops however. Nothing exceeds 20 feet making it fun but not drop dead stressfull. There are numerous portages around logs and one over a old dam about a mile from the confluence. However the majoraty of drops are navagable. To find crapo you should consult a topo map. Look a few drainages up from where wooley creek hits the Cal Salmon. It is relatively painless logistically. After 5 mile drive on a decent road and a small scramble down a muddly slop you are set. Flows vary based on snowpack and expecially rain. When the flows on the main Salmon are between 5ft and 7ft Crapo is running wich is most of the winter and spring.

-Ben Wartburg

Merlin Hanauer launching off one of the bigger drops on the run.

Merlin, having one of his few good lines of the day, nails this drop.

Morehouse Creek

-Andrew Bell on the confluence falls.

-Merlin on one of the many technical rapids.

Paul Gamache - Confluence Rapid. Photo: Ben Hawthorne

-Morehouse creek drains from North to South out of the Marble Mountains and into the Salmon river about five miles down from the confluence. Morehouse shares a peak with Crapo creek and drains the opposite side of some of Wooley creeks larger tributaries like Rock and Sienacher creek. If you have traveled up the Salmon during daylight hours then you have seen the beautiful falls where Morehouse pours into the Salmon. This falls has been run several times, run first a few years ago by local boy Rush Sturges, but until earlier this year the rest of the creek was yet to be run. This can, for the most part, be attributed to the lack of any conventional access, including any type of trail. There are some access tips you can pick up from locals, but I would recommend inquiring with CaliProduct if possible since some of the locals might not take kindly to "some honyaker" asking for directions on where to go romping through the woods.

-The creek itself is quite enjoyable and typical of most creeks in the area: lots of gradient (400+) and lots of wood, not a lot of water. Morehouse is a very small creek and you absolutely must have over 7.0 ft. on the Salmon River gauge. The gradient is constant with some challenging drops but few very large drops, in fact the biggest drop we encountered was the last drop into the river. That being said, this creek presents many challenges, it is not an easy creek and a strong team is a must. Check the clip section for some shots from the first d.

-Merlin Hanauer

-Andrew Bell on the confluence falls.

-Seth Rikter on the last drop of the run.

Portuguese Creek

-The top of the last drop going into the Cal Salmon.

-The kicker that launches.

-Portuguese creek flows into the Cal Salmon on the Nordhiemer run. You can easily see it if you check out a topo. For it to be running the salmon probably needs to be above 6 feet, it is a small creek. There is no access except simply hiking up it. We hiked up and ran the bottom of this creek into the river, the last drop being pretty awsome. You get huge air as it launches you off a kicker. Its worth doing if your in need of footage and everything else is just too high, but its not worth going out of your way to do.


Bluff Creek

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-Scott Ligare was the only paddler on the North Coast we could find who had paddled this creek. References to it in Lars's book were vague, and rumor had it that his put-in road advice was shaky at best. After being up North for four years, myself, Dan Minton, Ben Wartburg, Erick Conklin, Paul Gamanche, Damon, and Matt "ODB" Fahey decided to give it a go. The the take-out is easy, right where you cross over Bluff as it drains into the Klamath. You can get a good look at what the last mile looks like from standing on the bridge. Lars's book says to go up Fish Lake road, instead, we went up the other side of the creek for about 5-8 miles, turning on the second forest service gate we came to. The gate is worth "looking" at even though it looks closed. Because of the endangered Port Orford Cedars, all the Forest Service gates stay shut. Head down this road on its way to the creek until it dead-ends. At the dead-end, veer down to the left through the brush and you will get to a creek bed that you can scamper down to the creek. If you find the creek the hike isnt bad, if you don't, you'll be bushwacking for about a quarter-mile.

The Run from this point down is awsome. It's about 4 miles of non stop great rapids, culminating in 1 mile of solid non-stop class V to the bridge. This run is one of the best quality runs in the area, going from flows of 500-1500. When we did it, we had about 1200 and it seemed like an ideal flow. It normally goes after any rain, and during spring run-off. If the Cal-Salmon is flowing at above 4.5, you have a good shot of it being runnable. Have fun on one of the classics!