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Canyon Creek White Water Trip Report

Published on 5/14/2014
By Kanako Iwata-Eng 

On the rainy Sunday 5/4, Bill Petty, Doug Knapp, Chris Knorr and I went to run the Canyon Creek, a SF Stillaguamish tributary. The commonly known put-in for the 4-mile Class 2 section is next to the Masonic Park, but Bill took us to his put-in he made and maintains the path to. This adds another 4 miles and some Class 3-ish rapids. Just needed to hike a little.

When we were in the McDonald’s line that morning, I asked Doug how bad the hike is, and he said “Not that bad. It’s mostly downhill.” We drove up some service road, and started walking down a trail with lots of big black slugs, dragging our boats. After a mile or so (maybe wrong as I have little sense of distance), it became uphill for a while. When I reached the top, I saw a tarp set up like a tent. It looked like an arrow hunters’ camp. 

Doug said there were 2 bears when he got there. The bears ran away but were growling, which Chris heard, too. From there, we went down the steep downhill. The ground was sliding down. Prickly plants were hanging over the path. Though Bill maintains the trail, there were some new fallen trees I had to go over or under. After struggling good 30 minutes (maybe wrong as I have little sense of time), I finally got to the river. My drysuit was covered with mud outside. I was soaked with sweat inside. My paddle was slimy with whatever it touched. I told Bill, “This is my new hardest put-in! If you call this ‘not bad’, I can never go to a put-in you call ‘very bad’”. Bill repeated my words to Doug, and they laughed at me.  : (

The water level was 7.2 feet. The water looked wild, and the flow was fast. We seal-launched two at a time and immediately ferried to the other side. I don’t handle pushy water well and generally flip a lot, but I didn’t feel scared that day, because the “ratio” was right – if I swim, 3 strong men would save 1 little me! Bill led a safe line for me, and my boat cooperated. We flew down the first 4 miles in 1 hour. Bill and Doug rated the upper section as Class 3+ that day. It was so much fun.

I had run the lower half of the run before but at much lower level. This section is pretty continuous fun Class 2 on any day, but it was far more fun that day. We finished the rest in another hour, even with a lunch break.

After all, I concluded the hard put-in was worthwhile. Without a question, I will do it again, and if anyone asks me about the put-in, I would say “It’s not bad.”

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