Well, we ran the North Fork of the Santiam, a 7 mile stretch between Big Cliff Dam and PackSaddle park, with a solid class four and what is called a class five. The first rapid, the Narrows (original name, eh?) was a river wide hydraulic haystack wave, folloed by a lateral wave formed by a gnarly eddie fence and some wicked hydraulics, forming some recirc necessitating a large punch. Below this was another diagonal hole, river wide, with another lateral recirc wave. Below, on river left, the current slammed into a rock face before heading right, into a calm pool. Niagara, the so called V, began with a bit of III boogy water leading into a 5 ft wide slot, demanding a lowside to stand the raft up on its side to enter. The river entered sheer rock walls and veered right, demonstrating some weird and unique hydraulic boils forming a crease at the center that would have sucked a tube if faced incorrectly. The intensity of the boils and the narrow winding of the river may have caused the delusion of naming this drop a five, but it certainly was
one of the most remarkable stretches of water I've ever seen. Definitely not a V except for the undercut walls on all sides. In the remaining runnout, the river entered a forever eddie, then broke into two channels, both of which were class iii+/iv maneuvers through holes.
After our first successful run of the stretch, we decided to try our luck with the setting sun and do it again. We did not stop to scout the Narrows, lined up correctly, and failed to punch the haystack with enough momentum to clear us from the lateral breaker below. The hole stood us on end and rolled us back upstream. I was sucked under the raft for the second drop and recirculated in the pile for a bit longer than I was comfortable with, bobbing up under the raft, then bashing against the wall on river left, which thankfully was not undercut. Jason ended up on the downstream side of the raft before it bounced the wall, and was able to use the wall to launch himself on top of the raft. We had two spare paddles, and flipped the raft and continued downstream in hopes of rescuing the other two rental paddles. We finished the rest of the run and drove back upstream to the narrows, locating the two lost paddles in obscure dugout nooks in the rock faces in the runnout to the rapid. The river was absolutely gorgeous (as a CO boater I am not used to rainforest greenery and moss covered granite walls), and it was a great day for a first flip