|Hamma Hamma — 1. Boulder Creek to Hamma Hamma Campground (Upper) ©|
Avg Gradient 200fpm fpm
Play Rating (1-10): -20
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Minimum Recomended Level: 250 Maximum Recomended Level: 350
In keeping with the nature of OP runs in general, be sure to get an early start. Follow the directions in Korb's book, if you have a copy, otherwise you can intuit your way with a Delorme. Drive upstream of Lena Creek a few miles. We encountered a short tricky landslide, but the Tan Van had plenty of clearance for the task of traversing it. Class IV driving at its best for those 50'.
Put In below a double falls that streams down against a huge slab of volcanic rock. The falls is visble through light trees from the road, where a pull out overlooks the creek. The hike down isn't bad at all, but the run more than makes up for that downstream.
Park on the road near Lena Creek Campground. There is a trailhead near there, and lots of folks park there to hike up to the lake.
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The Natives were right about this river: It Stinks!! So if you like getting Skunked, "this run is for you". Don't expect to be rewarded for all of the rigors you will endure throughout this trip. Expect to be tested. Technically, Physically, and Mentally. Lots of scouting followed quite often by lots of portaging is required to negotiate a relentless barrage of gnarly rock clusters. A mixed bag of almost-runnable drops, clearly unrunnable rapids, and logs logs logs. Better than bad its wood! The "runnable" drops you end up paddling will be manky and harsh. But they will seem like nirvana after bushwacking so much.Don't bring your good drysuit unless you want it have more "ventilation".
Don't underestimate ANY of the three paragraphs that Gary Korb devotes to his run description. You really need to read between the lines on this one.
I do agree with him about this singular "fact": Scenery is "A+". I would NOT, however, call this run "fun". You need to have a token appetite for pain and suffering to "enjoy" this trip.
FLOW INFO: as scracthy, manky, and bony as this run was for us, I'd love to tell you to just go in there on a bumped up flow. And who knows? Maybe that's the remedy. But I really really don't think so. It seems as though more water would just make this run UGLIER. If anyone else has beta to the contrary, let us know.
This run will test your resolve, so get a good night's sleep, eat a good breakfast, and pack a lunch (or two) and plenty of water. You're gonna need it.
Soon into the trip you will portage an unrunnable cascading falls. We did this by climbing back up to the road briefly on R. Left, then descending down a mossy, steep talis slope. Maybe this was Korb's put-in, actually, but you may as well get warmed up for all of the other portages to follow.
One of the first real rapids to scout involves a tedious little hike through Devil's Club (the first of many), around and over gigantic mossy boulders thickly covered in forest.The first stage of it is a double drop ending in a flume between the Right bank and a house rock. A short moving pool through this pinch has 3 exits. After removing some small diameter wood, we boofed the far right slot: perhaps the cleanest boof we'd see all day, so you'd better relish this 8 footer.
Soon after you'll encounter an impassible canyon falls. It may be the one Korb describes as a 30 footer, but it looked way bigger to me. It funnelled into another tall cascading squeeze directly below it, choked full of big wood. We portaged on R. Left and it was steep and difficult. High and around, then down a long scramble to the pool below.
Most of the runnable whitewater is marginally so. The geology is fresh and raspy. It's as if meteorites were randomly dropped in all the landing zones where nature normally carves out nice greenwater pools. like some giant, or Paul Bunyon was walking through the canyon sayin " I'ma go'n mess with these smart ass kayakers!", dropping boulders where they don't belong. It's gonna take nature at least a few more thousand years to clean this run up. Marginally runnable with lots of wood (in all of the drops that would be clean). The less steep drops have smaller rock in them, but are still really hard on boats. Korb states that pins are frequent, so be carefull. It would be easy to break one in here, so BURN paddlers beware!! This run will take several years off of the lifespan of your boat, paddle and drysuit regardless. Maybe your body as well. All in the efforts of scouting, portaging, and hopefully paddling.
And it keeps on coming! Further down there are a few brief redeemable sections. After one particular portage on R. Right where hotel sized boulders form a complete dead end in the river (unless you are a micro organism or similarly sized critter), there is a long manky rapid you can sneak down the right. You won't find it pleasant,but hey, you're not portaging! Somewhere in here you may want to stop and eat something. Below here you should find more continuity among manky but runnable rapids and drops.
There is a spout with a narrow sliding lead-in to a boney autoboof- about 12-16' high. This will seem like the sweetest little waterfall you ever ran, even though it's a scratchy chunk of junk by most standards.
An island has two equal volume cahannels . The left is badly choked with logs and badly placed boulders. The right has a simple boat-width slot against the island.
Somewhere much further down this ordeal you'll come to "The Keyhole That Unlocks the Door To Stupidity". A long name for a short rapid that only takes seconds to get utterly hammered in. A twisting curve of water flows through a large wave just as it drops down and into a very narrow keyhole notch, plunging into a trashy constricted hole. You've portaged so much at this point, why stop now? There's an undercut or two in the chamber below if you want to unlock that door.
Another island looks like there isn't quite enough water on the left. The rightside however, hosts the main flow. Here you'll find a long (how many times can I say manky?) rapid with about 4 crux moves, starting above a razor back boof. Don't flip anywhere in here or you might get decapitated. But it's very runnable, and you'll likely conclude it's one of the "cleanest" rapids all day!
Even as the gradient lessens, it takes a long time to let up. When intermittant log jams begin to accompany class II+ conditions,be prepared for the workload to ramp up, not down. You ain't out of the woods yet. In fact, I'd recommend taking a break here and regaining your strentgh and fortitiude. By now you may be fatigued and the normal class II logjams may amplify risks if you are too hastey to arrive at the takeout and get off of this tedious run from hell.
If your trip went at all like ours did, it'll be late in the afternoon, and the 5 miles you've paddled will seem like 10. It will at least seem as if you've portaged more of those miles than you've paddled. If you smell campfires you know you are a mere hundered yards or so from escaping the rough grasp of the Hamma Hamma!!!
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