Olympic Peninsula boating at its best! No tarps needed - WooHoo!
As the week began with super heavy rains and flooding, the doubts of running Matheny Creek were creeping to the surface. Having missed many opportunities to run the Upper & Lower Matheny Creek sections on one of Jon's annual WKC trips, I was so looking forward to this weekend all year. On Tuesday before the trip, our well organized trip leader, Jon Almquist, in true "Jon" fashion, put our minds at ease about the climbing river levels. As if he had planned it, his prediction for good weather and river levels for the weekend was a success.
Paddling in the deepest darkest part of the Olympic Peninsula is always an adventure and it's really important to come prepared for the conditions as well as the "what if" scenarios. Jon put a list of reminders out for us and I thought it would be an excellent addition to a trip report for others wanting to venture out to the OP.
Adventure "To bring list"
- Plenty of gas in your tank
- Dress appropriately
- Bring plenty water/food
- Extra fleece and hat for your boating dry bag
- Headlamp in case of emergency
- Spare paddle (you never know when you might need this)
- First aid kit
- FLOAT BAGS ARE A MUST ON ALL RIVER TRIPS! No float bags puts others at risk while trying to do a rescue and often equates to a broken or even a lost kayak. Getting caught out after dark on a river is no bueno.
We had a huge crew for the weekend with lots of paddling options for everyone. We ran the class III middle section, giving everyone two days of fantastic peninsula paddling. In addition there was also an option to tack on the upper class IV/IV+ section on Saturday and the class IV section on Sunday.
After meeting the crew of 16 on Saturday morning, eight boaters: Jon, Michael (our fantastic cameraman that captured all these awesome photos), Chad, Zak, Matt, Aamie, Scott and Shanna, hiked boats into the upper 2 mile section of class IV/IV+. After zig-zagging through the muddy forest and dragging our kayaks behind us, we finally made it to the river.
Muddy, forested maze enroute to the river
Shanna getting muddy
Within a short distance downstream the river plunges over the first of several 6' ledge drops, at the "Tongue of Pleasure" (sounds exciting :). It continues with some constant class III drops through the scenic bedrock canyon with only one portage.
Aamie, Jon and Zak completing the portage
Matt seal launching into the pool below the portage, Chad in the background
Half way through the upper section, the pace picked up with a number of ledges packed closer together, and the first of these is Shark Fin Falls, which is the biggest ledge drop on the run.
Jon running Sharkfin Falls
Scott joined the crew in his inflatable kayak (IK)
Chad surrounded by one of many beautiful gorges on Matheny Creek
Aamie running one of the many chutes
When the bridge came into view, we finished off the upper with bridge drop and rallied with the other 8 boaters (Claire, Andy, Ken, Lora, Brett, Ansel, Megan, and Mark) who hiked their boats into the middle section.
As we meandered our way down the forested, mossy, river corridor we enjoyed the fairly continuous class III rapids with beautiful, breathtaking waterfalls coming in from both sides of the river. We kept a steady pace knowing how quickly time could get away from us. Everyone did super well and despite the occasional flip/swim we all had a hoot running such a fun, beautiful river. We ended Saturday evening with a roaring campfire, good stories, a beautiful sky filled with stars and new friends!
Enjoying our bon fire Saturday night!
A certain someone woke up to crisp Sunday morning and realized they forgot to put their drysuit inside.. it not only wouldn't bend but it was frozen to the top of the car.. haha!
On Sunday we had a total of 13 paddlers for the middle section and then 8 continued down the class III/IV lower section. The lower is a great intermediate creek run. The run consisted of two gorges with several III+ rapids packed together for continuous action. The second gorge was slightly longer with several more fun class III+/IV rapids that required a couple scouts. The first rapid "Call 9-1-1", went off without any 9-1-1 calls. The second class IV rapid was "Bowling Ball", known for a narrow chute with a 15' diameter bowling ball looking rock, complete with finger holes. Wood had gathered in the moving current below the chute warranting a portage for half the crew.
Superhero poses of the weekend (Aamie, Matt, Andy and Ken)
Thanks Michael (our probe and photographer - you're the best!)
What a fun weekend packed with adventure! Thanks Jon for your leadership on your annual OP trips. Can't wait for more..