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The Real McCoy

McCoy Creek
Class: V      GMap
milepost 8 to Yellowjacket Creek
Trip Date: 6/7/2008
Written on: 6/8/2008
Written by:

The first thing I'd like to say about this fantastic run is: leave good and early if you're driving from Seattle. It takes awhile to get up into the drainage. Ideally, I'd consider camping out near there and running something else in the area the same weekend.It's enough of an involved run to warrant putting on early. The canyon is narrow and deep (aren't they all in this neck-a-the woods?) and I think it would be prudent to pad out your trip with enough time to accomodate potential mishaps. We ended up putting on after 2:30pm. We had a solid group of 5 paddlers, and no major incidents, and thus were able to complete the run (including Yellowjacket Creek) inside of 5 hours. That's scouting all of the major drops, and fiddling with cameras, ect. Still, getting off the river at 7:30pm was a bit tight. Had someone broken a paddle or gotten hurt, it would've gotten dark on us. So my advice: put on as early as possible, and bring food.

The next thing I would say is that Jeff Bennett's description of this run is pretty accurate, give or take some current wood specifics, of which there are many this season. Count on somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-6 portages around wood, two of which unfortunately make otherwise runnable drops unrunnable. Otherwise you'll also be paddling over, under, and around plenty of logs, so put on your chummy face and say your "how-do-you-do's to the wood. It's a 3 mile stretch on McCoy, that drops an average of 200 FPM (The last mile dropping 280 feet).

Putting in at Milepost 8 on FR 29, it was a steep long hike down to the water. Rather typical for the Northwest, Really. We scraped over lots of bowling ball sized rock gardens and scrapey little slides, all class II-ish with some class III wave trains thrown in. The creek felt small through here at this water level. Later some on our trip would say it could have had 1/4 to 1/2 again as much water, but it was fine.

The first significant drop flows over some shallow slides, curves to the left side of the canyon, and plunges into the first "pothole". There is a shelf of rock on the leftside you can ride up on to stay high and avoid the deep hole at the bottom. As I recall some shallow rocks during the approach threw me off and I fell off towards the center, but I kept driving left so that even though I landed in the hole, I had enough momentum to catch enough of the outflow on the left to move through it.

Somewhere in here we encountered a weird little stacked up double drop. The river curves around an outcropping of rocks on R. Left, snakes back to the left around some boulders in the center, and dissappears among a jumble of large boulders. Definitly a great place to get out and scout. Scouting on R. Right, you'll see a narrow slot between two boulders in the center of the creek where the water plunges over a 6' drop, immediatle followed by another 6' drop into a healthy hole. Note the seive-like channel that twists off into a side channel on the right, and avoid it. Looks like a great place to get pinned or trapped, but there shouldn't be any reason why you would end up there.The basic perscription here is to come down the wavetrain approaching boulder on the left side of the upper drop, driving hard right to boof as far right as you can. Landing in a foam pile that is immediately dropping into the 2nd hole, Ideally you want to continue your momentum toward the right. The leftside of the hole at the bottom is rather ugly. This rapid, like all the big ones on this run, would be a BITCH to portage, and would be very time consuming.

There's some more busy water until you get to Tom's Slide. This is a very fun, classic slide-waterfall, 15-18' high depending on who's tape measure you're using. Just run down the wavetrain at the top (I stayed just a hair to the right of the wave peaks) and plummet off of an initial 6' drop halfway down the slide. Gravity will do the rest, and the landing is quite fluffy.

Below Tom's Slide were other fun ledges and slides intermixed with class III boogie water, and generally the cleaner the rapids are of wood, the more straight forward they are. This despite the common blind corners and horizons. Seemed to be plenty of eddies where needed at this flow for a group of our size or smaller. Seemed like a medium low flow.
When we got to "B.U.D." ("Backwards and Upsidedown Falls" A.K.A. "Chinook Falls") I was immediately sketched out by the steep mossy route one has to take to scout this series of drops and slides. It's long and drops quite a bit. It was full on class V scouting, and more hazardous than running the drops themselves, due to the exposure and possibility of slipping and falling in. Portaging was not a favorable option, like many of the other drops on the run.
  I jokingly renamed the Rapid "F.U.R."- "Forward and Up Right". It has a twisty little sliding approach down to an 8' boof. Here It was easiest to catch the HUGE swift eddy on R. Left. It cycles you through around the edge of it, lining you up to peel out in an upstream ferry toward R. Right, over a large double drop slide. It's ugly trouble on R. Left where the slide is broken into a double drop pothole. Watch out for this at high water, I'd guess. My line through the lower slide was less then gracefull, but it worked. Fish and Ben in particular had really smooth runs.
More boogie water, log limbos, ect. Then we got to the "20 footer". I wasn't in a drysuit. Neither was Paul. we were getting chilly during the scout. I busted out some Pop Tarts. We all pretty much bombed down the middle of the 20' rolling falls, with a slight favoritism of the rightside wave peaks and a delayed boof stroke. I went deep and flipped, but Cris poured on the Joose and stomped it out good!
below the 20 foot falls we encountered a log choked drop that was marginally runnable if you were willing to drift through a thick evergreen curtain of fresh pine needle branches. I'm sure it would smell wonderful, but I didn't see the point. I instigated a portage. Not long after we reached the obvious horizon line of the 45' falls mentioned in Bennett. This was the most difficult portage of the trip, requiring us to go way up and across a steep, thick forested slope. Back down along a forested canyon rib to the river, I'd seen worse.
Around the corner was a nasty little blind ledge.Ben probed it before the rest os had skirted up. Fish followed next, dissappearing around the corner to the right and over the ledge. I hadn't seen where they'd gone. There was a bundle of roots wadded up in the center of the drop, right on the lip. Cris went to the right of them. I went further right still, and pencilled in, pitoning on the river bottom. Apparently when one of the guys ran it, he got stuffed under a 20' long tree that was extending downstream from the ledge, attatched to the rootball I'd seen from above.
It was so shallow where he was-- on a gravel bar. He ended up swimming and later drinking his booty beer.
After that, the run started to wind down a bit. Some minor wood issues, ect. Then we were on Yellowjacket Creek. Yellowjacket was cool. It quickly picked up pace with several good class III-IV rapids that were easy to read and run. The extra volume in the river was nice for carrying us on toward the take out. A few ledges and some potentially powerful holes, along with some more wood here and there. It was getting late so we really put the hammer down to paddle the 4.5 miles from the confluence to the take out bridge. Beautiful canyon though, too bad I was tired out. Kind of started to boat a little sloppy, actually.There was a riverwide spanning log where Fish, and then I, got pinned. But still, toward the end of a long trip, stay on gaurd when it gets loggy, even if it's only class II.
We reached the take out at 7:30pm.

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