Illinois River – November 15/16, 2008


So much for “forecasted flow”… The Illinois was projected to hit 4000 CFS two days before this trip. Instead, it barely touched 1300 and we were left with a bony flow. Jason Fisher and Jo Schroeder, guides for Idaho River Journeys on the Middle Fork and Main Salmon rivers, had flown out for an “epic high water trip” but were left with rocks high and dry. We hit the Molalla with Ryan Morgan at flood stage in our small 10′ Avon on Thursday and then headed south for a low water run on the Illinois. The weather forecast called for sun and sun and sun… thus securing our chances of an “epic low water flow.” But, the Illinois never disappoints, and we got to experience the river the way very few rafters ever get to see it.

As always, Galice Resort provided our shuttle van and trailer, for which they deserve a HUGE THANK YOU. Also, if you ever have Floyd as your shuttle driver you must ask him about his Illinois river trip. The next morning he showed me some great shots of his run nearly 30 years ago. River people and their history on this amazing river are truly amazing and we were lucky to meet him and have him share his story with us.

We put on at Miami Bar around 9:30 AM after spending the night at the Rogue River Journeys guide house, approximately 200 yards from the Illinois River Road. The river was absolutely beautiful: crystal clear water, fun, technical rapids, and clear blue skies. At this flow, the river is extraordinarly slow between the rapids so we only made it to South Bend camp for the night. We had hoped to get below Green Wall and the lower gorge but the fear of darkness kept us from heading downstream.

After an early breakfast the next morning, we got on the water at 8:30 AM and headed off to Prelude. The typical drop on the left had a rock sticking out right in the middle that the rafts kept getting stuck on. But, it seemed like the best way through so we pushed and bumped and grinded our way down. At Green Wall, I ran the entry and proceeded to get stuck on river left. Our three kayakers helped pull me back into an eddy and after some debate we gave the “no go” sign to the rest of the boats. They hiked down from the top of the entry rapid.

Green Wall looked bizarre. Slot “B” was not even an option and “A” was definitely the way to go. It led into a small hole, followed by a move left and then a quick cut right at the bottom. “Harvey” was not a hole at all, just an exposed horrible looking wrap rock. All of our rafts made it through, with Scott taking a more interesting way through the bottom which led to an upside down boat.

After Green Wall, it was just technical boating all the way down to Submarine. At Submarine, I asked my brother Skip to lead the way and give the aye or nay sign. He was running a 10-foot Avon and made it through cleanly but gave the nay sign. It was a very tight slot on the left. The right side showed an even tighter line so we deflated some tubes and pushed down, hoping to squeeze through. It must have helped, because with some jumping around we managed to get through the slot without any helping hands.

From there, it was a slow push to Oak Flat, completing the trip. Many thanks to Galice, Rogue River Journeys, and the gang we were with.

Trip participants:

Jason Fisher, Jo Schroder, Dana Woodruff, Skip Volpert, Will Volpert, Scott Fine, Nick Ellis, Erin Ellis, Aaron, Mike, Chris Uhtoff, Andreas, Alan Douglas, Emilie Entriken, and Scott Fine.











Molalla River, Oregon – November 13, 2008

After Jo and Jason (fellow Idaho River Journeys guides) showed up in Portland I called Ryan Morgan to ask about boating plans. He couldn’t join us for the Illinois later in the week, but he did want to show us the Molalla… at flood stage. I had the choice between taking a 14′ Avon Adventurer or 10′ Avon dubbed “Rosie” – and chose poorly. Grabbed the 10-footer and we began the drive to Molalla. Met Ryan in the morning.

The original plan was to run an upper stretch but after seeing how flooded the river was Ryan decided that it would be best not to. We put on the Goldilocks stretch and hit was a hoot. Except it felt like the 10′ raft was a little small for the three of us. Ryan kayaked and showed us the way through most of the stuff. It was moving so fast… until we got to one of the rapids and there were logs everywhere. We pulled over on river-left and scouted. The normal run, as Ryan told us, was blocked by quite a few logs. So, we entered farther left than normal and worked right. Here’s how Ryan put it (in a post to PDXKayaker):

“A group of us headed out to the Molalla today. The river was predictably high, but great fun. I had my playboat and we also had a 10′ raft with an R3 crew. We opted to run from the Old Bridge to the Cedars since the flow was so high, roughly 5,800 at Canby and falling) (The Cedars is a day use site downstream of Glen Avon, but above Feyrer park) We moved fast, but everything was easy to boat scout. The bears were big and fun. There is no new wood in the upper river to
Baby Bear. (There is still wood in the right channel of the first island rapid below Horse creek canyon) Goldilocks however has gotten more difficult. I spotted new wood so we quickly grabbed an eddy for a scout. The water was just going over the wood that has been stuck at the bottom left making the right side line the only option. Unfortunately, there are now two large logs blocking the entrance to the right channel requiring a challenging ferry and a tough cut to the right above the big rock with the old wood on it. We both made it through, but not without some tense moments and hard paddling. All in all, a great day on the water. We covered the run in just over 2 hours. If anyone is interested, I might be up for the Table Rock Fork tomorrow as it should be at a great level.”

As far as I know, Ryan knew the Molalla better than anyone.

Here are some photos from this trip:





Orletta Stretch of the White Salmon, Washington – October 26th and November 2nd, 2008

Trip report written by Will Volpert.

Once again, called Ryan Morgan and he came through big time to find a great run for us. The Truss was wicked low for a raft run but the Orletta Stretch is the section between the bottom of Little Zigzag and the BZ put in. The hike down with a raft it brutal. The first run we did on October 26th we carried the inflated raft down the creek bed. That was heinous. The next Sunday on the 2nd, Dana and I hiked in with a rolled raft. That too was difficult. Maybe there is no easy way.

Nonetheless, once you actually do get down to the river you are treated with some great class III and IV drops for about two miles. It is fairly continuous initially, and then mellows. It picks up again just above The Flume. After the Flume, there is short rapid that bends to the right. Make sure you eddy out immediately after this drop. BZ Falls is just downstream. Scout from the right. Both times we ghost boated the raft and I jumped in just after the falls off the cliffs on the right.