Wednesday, March 17, 2010

North Fork Stillaguamish Adventure

Well I woke up way too early after a super late night. College seems to always convince me to stay up late.. especially when girls are around. After going to sleep at 3am, I woke up at 6am, loaded up my kayak gear and drove over to Chris's house. It was the earliest I had woken up in a long time. After talking to Chris, Todd and Leif the night before, all I knew was that we were going to explore something that the crew knew a little about, but not much. Chris had casually scouted the run in '08 and this is what he saw.
Photo:Chris Tretwold

Enticing indeed. After driving a couple hours south from BHam, and a nice 2 hour nap for me, we got to the take out. This is one of the most beautiful take-outs that I have seen. The river ends with a view of a massive Cascadian peak called whitehorse peak. It looked like this.We dropped Todd's subie off at the bottom, and continued on our adventure. We strategically placed a bike about half-ways down the run just in case we ended up spending the day portaging and bushwhacking through the northwestern forest. When we dropped the bike off, we found this burnt couch still glowing with embers...(not really) but it would have been sweet because it was damn cold.

Todd and Leif warming up. We then spent the next oh hour or so doing this.

Yea we were somewhat lost, and drove up the wrong road at least twice.

...And how do we get to the river? Lost on yet another dead-end logging road. Turns out the road "christian camp road" was yes in fact right next to the christian camp we had driven by probably 3 times. We considered consulting them on our existence, but decided against it. We found the river and put on, despite the low flow we found. The start of the run is class 2/3 and meanders in and out of beautiful gorges with a "heineken bottle" green tint to it.

Chris in the upper stretches.

The river continues like this for a few miles, which made me quite suspicious as to how the day was going to end because we were running out of distance to accommodate the gradient we had calculated. I expected the river to drop off the face of the earth, but I was pleasantly surprised when we realized it was all manageable. Here is our first view of the gorge, and the first "rapids" of the day.

Looked pretty sweet for sure. After a quick scout, Leif told us the lines and we dropped in. We found some sweet rapids indeed.

Me on the first rapids of the run, a sweet 3-stager with this at the end. Photo: Todd Gillman

The Remix kills it, even in low volume technical stuff.

Directly after this drop we caught a very small eddy, and climbed up some rocks and sticks to find this.

Gradient! and some manky waterfalls.

There is some really interesting geology here with some huge potholes.

Chris decided to take a short break in one. TG photo.

After scouting for a while, I figured I could pick off one of these stacked waterfalls.

Beautiful Sequence by Todd Gillman, nice shots!

We portaged the next two drops, a sketchy 4 footer that lead directly into a 3oish footer that landed directly on rocks. We continued downstream.

Chris and Todd contemplating the drops below.

Leif and Chris scouting some good drops, and some not-so good drops. Look at that tree! Thing is huge!

As we continued, we found some really good drops. A crazy 15 ft waterfall with a weird entrance from an eddy, then a sweet rock grind boof.

Leif entering the Sweet 15ftr.

And then about to drop over the edge of a really cool drop.

Chris killing a boof on the same drop from below. Photo TG

I got a pretty sweet Video shot of Todd From the top, check it out.

Todd Gillman NF Stillaguamish from Fred Norquist on Vimeo.

Me running the same drop, Good stuff! photo: TG

Just after this drop is a really sweet grind boof. Here is Chris showing us whats up with the rim grab.

Stylie! photo: TG

I got a nice brown off of this one, great brown drop, really.

We continued downstream, and we were greeted with some fun class 4 boogie water. It was getting somewhat late, we were tired, then we came to a sketchy 10 footer with rocks on both sides of a 4-foot landing zone. With the help of a fresh snickers bar in my stomach, I ran it, had a decent line slightly taggin my elbow on a rock on the left.

Photo: TG.

We ran some more boogie water and arrived at the take-out and couldn't have been happier with some New Belgium brews.

The day was a success, we didnt spend the whole day bushwhacking through the forest, we found some sweet drops, and got to be on the river. Couldn't ask for more.

It was a great day, we ran around 4 miles of river. Not to mention exploring a very cool river gorge. Man I love the PNW!

Thanks to Todd, Chris and Leif, this was a great trip, one of the best ways to spend a weekend day no doubt.