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Seize The Day!

Day Creek
Class: IV-V(V+)      GMap
Blair Rd. to Skagit River
Trip Date: 1/14/2010
Written on: 1/17/2010
Written by:

Thurs, 1/14/10, Day/Trip# 6 of 2010: Day Creek P.F.D                                  Salto Trip#149  
It had been raining for several days before this day,and when we arrived at the take out bridge and saw that the banks were basicly bank full, I had a good feeling about this run. The water was a tanic, rootbeer/gravey color. It seemed higher than I might prefer having never run it, but I felt an opportunistic "seize the moment" spirit wash over me. 
 
Ben was a few minutes ahead and found the Put-in spot. Hiking down through the woods (there's no trail), the soil was a saturated chocolate cake consistancy. The hike was more of a slide/climb down a trickle of a creekbed.
 
We popped out onto the river on R. Left. We put in below a gnarly mess of a boulder pile that I did not scout. Ben apparently scouted it enough to decide to put-in below it. It may be the (VI) referred to. Ben ran a ramp leading into a strong 6' boof. I decided to put-in along the Class IV+ swiftwater immediately below this, so I could have some kind of "warm up" before reaching the next powerful drop 40 yards downstream.

What we found at this flow I would describe as a class V trip worth doing.There were plenty of pushy, steep drops strung together by continuous class IV+ rapids. The main channel was generally clean with all of this muddy water, and the boating flowed really well and was enjoyable if one could handle the stout push. Early on within the first 2-3 drops, just about when I was getting into the rhthym of Day Crk, Be cut to the right down a nice, conservative open channel. Wanting to maintain the high ground, I ferried higher upstream across an earlier wave. This had the effect of depositing me further to the right than he had gone. I instantly found myself caught in a tractor beam of strong current that drew me in a straight line towards 2 nasty logs, angled into and backing up a nasty hole. It was all I could do to wiggle just barely out of a certain pin.

Within 3/4 mile or so we came upon "The Devil's Ropework". A class IV entrance deposited us into a pool above an obvious scout. The river bends to the left over a horizon line. Ben eddied out on the Left where a verticle creek cascades into the river. I eddied out on R. Right. Both right and left banks reveal good views of the rapid below,but the leftside is better for portaging.I saw a narrow flume smashed against the right wall, backed up by a powerful looking hole. Immediately below this was a HUGE riverwide ledge that appeared to contain a terminal hole.This is the crux of the run(from where we put-in). It may be the class VI drop referred to in the book, but we think it may be runnable at a lower flow, so for now I'm calling it a V+. After conducting a dialog of hand signals from our respective views of the rapid below, we agreed we didn't want to run it. We agreed that the best side to portage on was R. Left where Ben was. So I ferried across through the class IV pool above the rapid. It wasn't overly difficult, but at this flow, you sure wouldn't get a second chance if you fucked it up.I directed my bow into a clausterphobic cubbyhole of granite and got out of my boat.
 
It's very walled in here: The short portage ("The Devil's Ropework") took between 1-2 hours to complete, belaying ourselves and our boats down a 3 pitch near verticle gully full of erosion prone, rain saturated chocolate cake.
 
I traversed this steep gully first. The loamy soil was covered with moss and mixed with razor sharp shards that I tried to use for handholds without pulling them loose. One such shard sliced my finger pretty good, like when I accidently cut myself cutting tile. We used 3 throwbags and every biner we had to belay our two boats and ourselves. It was complex and time consuming, but rewarding when we overcame the challenge. A few dulfursitz later we were happily paddling along again. But at lower flows someone should get in there and run this rapid and rename it! 

We put back into busy class IV rapids that lead down into a bigger, more powerful drop. At this higher flow the run will retained a pushy class V flavor for another 1/4 mile. Then gradually we were boat scouting at an increasing pace as it tapered down from V-/IV+ to easily boat scoautable IV. The boulders will got smaller and it flattened out. Soon we were paddling on class III, and knew we'd finished the main course.

From here it's a typical class II paddle out. Time to Pay The Piper: There were two easy wood portages, but they were quick. We were at the bridge before we knew it.

Feel free to contact me if you are hungry for beta and serious about this run.
-jP

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