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Old 01-27-2014   #1
Eugene, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 68
NFMF Willamette Headwaters

I just got my photos back from a trip I did a few months ago. I always love it when I can go into my backyard and find exploratory type stuff.

This run is way up on the headwaters of the Willamette river above Eugene, Oregon. There is write up online of a team that tried it a few years ago and it sounded pretty unpleasant. So I decided to give it a go.

I parked at the trail head at the end of the road that follows the NFMF of the Willamette in the late afternoon. I failed to bring a headlamp, so I knew it would be rush to hike the 5 miles to the put in before dark. I love trips into the unknown and was super excited to be getting onto this stretch of water so the hike flew by in no time. I would have a photo, but for some reason, when I developed the photos, the campsite photos didn't make it on the cd.

I love camping by running water. All night I could hear the water crashing by 50 feet from the bench I was camping on. One thing that I find kinda of funny is that I am still somewhat scared of the dark. On trips where I am alone, I always sleep with my back to my kayak and get nervous when I have to go into the bush to take a piss. I also feel like I stay fairly alert even when I am sleeping. Does anyone else get this? Anyways...

The next day I packed up, suited and booted and headed down down stream. There was about 300 yards of mellow before the gradient got steep.

This was near the middle (?) of a long stretch of semi runnable steep white water. For reference, the last drop in the photo was maybe 5'. There was a ton of mandatory portages, but for the most part I was able to run a fair bit of junky steep whitewater. FUN?

As always, it is kind of fun to boat alone on steep stuff. There is none of the peer pressure that can go along with boating in groups. I simply hop out, scout, and execute. The rhythm just goes on and on. There is never a thought outside the present, or even fear for that matter. There is simply looking at the water for a line and executing. Perhaps this is what meditation is like? I have no idea, but it is fun.

There was one double drop that was described in a previous write up. It was a good looking double drop of 20 feet with a good pool below. Sadly, there was a log accross the top that would likely catch your bow if you threw a good boof. Sad, because this was the largest, cleanest drop on the run.

More steepness:

Then came the most beautiful place I have ever been.

This photo is taken looking down from a series of 80' waterfalls. The next photo is looking up at one of them.

The portages were some what difficult. I had to lower my boat via a belay device attached to an anchor, tie off the device, down climb around, tie off the boat, climb back up, remove the rope and down climb. The portage for each waterfall took 3 lowers and maybe 30 minutes a piece. It is always good to get in some exercise. Sadly, my drysuit took a beating on these, and the previous portages, and was in tatters by the last waterfall.

Here is the view looking up.

Time was getting short and I had told my roommate I would only be out for two days. So after another hour or so there was this:

I left my boat and hiked out. Right below where I left my boat, there was one more 100' waterfall, a 40' falls that looks good to go and then a few miles to the take out. It was late enough in the evening that it didn't seem wise to keep pushing and spend another night out. However, the hike up an out of the creek was 1200' and 4 miles. I figured I could drop back in next weekend and finish the run. So, I had a beautiful hike up and out. Other than getting cliffed out twice, it was a beautiful hike.

In retrospect, I probably should have sucked it up and hiked out with the kayak. Yet, I was hoping to come back the next weekend. Sadly, this has been a bit delayed and my boat sits snowed in without me. It will be fun to go in in the spring and knock out the rest of the run.


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Old 01-27-2014   #2
Wadeinthewater's Avatar
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 559
I think you need to attach the pictures instead of inserting them into the text.

Real adventure is only one bad decision away.
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Old 01-27-2014   #3
Eugene, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 68
Shesh, I such at this photo thing.

Here are the photos in order.

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Old 01-27-2014   #4
Wadeinthewater's Avatar
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 559

Thanks for the pictures. I haven't been very far past the end of the road.
Real adventure is only one bad decision away.
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Old 01-27-2014   #5
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
That's a beautiful area. We did a Kayak trip below all the class V stuff a long time ago, it was fun.
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Old 01-28-2014   #6
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
awesome ...way to get after it....great to find new stuff right under your nose...and no frills solo style adventures are usually the best adventures, no distractions and the complete immersion in the situation and nature you alluded to ......well done

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