Thursday, October 24, 2013

Take a walk

The last time I went kayaking, I walked off the Upper Upper Cispus. And about a week before that, I landed very flat off 80+ Metlako Falls. As much as it sucks to bail off a river, I was pretty happy to even be able to walk.

The Cispus is one of those rivers that got a bad wrap after a few groups had some rough trips, and now holds a slight connotation of menace. While there is no doubt the boulder gardens have their fair share of pin spots, and the only alternative to running a 30-footer with a cave behind it is an "involved" portage requiring roping boats at least twice, the Cispus is actually a really fun run and a great stepping stone between the Green Truss and the Little White.
This run starts with a bang
A 15 footer waits around the first bend, and plenty of class IV-V boulder gardens follow. The river has a continuous feel, although there are pools dispersed throughout the boulder gardens pretty regularly.
It's also incredibly scenic
Ryan Cole finishing up one of the tighter lines.
Many of these boulder gardens have tight lines to hit to avoid pitons or pins. It's advisable to follow someone who's done the run a few times.
Our fearless leader Nate Merrill winds up for a boof
We had ventured on despite other groups avoiding the river for fear of high water. At the put in, and coming through the first few rapids, the level didn't seem much higher than my previous trips. After coming through a particularly pinny boulder garden and thinking, "man, that was fun, not nearly as scary as I remember it..." I began to realize what we had gotten ourselves into.

The crew regroups below the steepest section of the river, shortly above Island, the second major drop.
Despite a feeling of general discomfort about what the added water would do to the crux drops downstream, we had driven a long ways and decided to continue downstream. When we reached Island, it became clear to the group that we'd be portaging Behemoth. We deliberated for a short period and decided to save ourselves the effort (and the potential beating in the massive hole at the base of Island) and hike out above the drop. It only took us 10-15 minutes to reach the road, and although steep, the climb was short.
Andrew "Jah" Bradley was even smiling at the end of it
We decided quickly as a group to avoid a potential suffer-fest, and I really appreciated how quickly everyone realized the potential for the trip to go downhill if wee continued down river. It's always hard to walk away from a river, whether it's your first time down, or your seventh, but recognizing things are getting out of hand before they get over your head is skill that will not only allow you to keep boating, but prevents a river from getting a bad reputation.

Thanks for keeping the trip positive Andrew Bradley, Ryan cole, and Nate Merrill!


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I am a freelance writer and photographer, collector of experiences, adventure lover, and outdoor goer.