Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from NF SKOKOMISH R BL STAIRCASE R at 3/30/2017 9:06:47 AM)
|Jefferson Creek — Elk Lake to Hamma Hamma ©|
Avg Gradient 280 fpm
Max Gradient 350+ fpm
|Put In Longitude :
|Put In Latitude :
|Take Out Longitude :
|Take Out Latitude :
NF SKOKOMISH R BL STAIRCASE R
||NWRFC | FC Page
||USGS - NWIS
||3/30/2017 9:00:00 AM
Minimum Recomended Level: 700 cfs Maximum Recomended Level: 1800 cfs
Roadside OP flavor! But the hike out can be a bit challenging.
Just below the lake near the Jefferson Creek Trailhead. Continue on NF-2480 after you leave the bridge over Jefferson Creek. You will come to a Y in the road, turn right onto NF-2441. Drive up NF-2441 until you come to the sign on the right side of the road for the Jefferson Creek trail head. This small road can have rough access if it's early spring so make sure your vehicle is up to task. It is approximately 5 miles from the Bridge to the putin.
The Jefferson Creek Bridge has washed out and been blocked off in the past after large winter and spring storms. An alternate putin is on river left of Jefferson Creek. At the fist Y in the road on NF-2480 you can turn right onto NF-2421. From NF-2421 you will have to bush-whack down to the creek.
From Hwy 101, turn onto NF-25 (N Hamma Hamma rd). Follow NF-25 to a split in the road. Turn left onto NF-2480, away from Lena lake and pass over the Hamma Hamma river. Continue on NF-2480 until you come to the second and much larger bridge. The second bridge is the takeout for Jefferson Creek and is just before confluence of the Hamma Hamma and Jefferson Creek. The island in the upstream portion of Jefferson, viewed from the bridge, is your best indicator of actual river level as there is no gage.
Water Levels fall and rise rapidly. To get an approximate level for Jefferson look for 1100cfs on the Dosewallips gauge
https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wrx/wrx/flows/station.asp?wria=16 and 800cfs on the NF Skokomish http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?12056500 for a med to med-high level. If levels are rising Jefferson might be too high. At the put in as of '09, a good med flow was at the spray painted line that said "OK". The "good" line was waay too high.
March 30, 2014 - Med High (great flow if you know where you're going)
NF Skok - 1300 -> 1050
SF Skok - 1700 - 1500
Big Q - 1.95 / 2.0 on visible stick gauge
Duckabush - 2.51 -> 2.36
The biggest stretch of flatwater is 30 feet long. Has some bouldery sections that roughly resemble "Gettin Busy" on the Little White.
There is a run description with a couple pictures of the main drops located here: http://fluidasalifestyle.blogspot.com/2012/01/jefferson-creek.html
Run Description [Season: Fall and Spring]
Jefferson Creek is a rarely run Olympic Peninsula gem of a river, it's not in the Korb guide so beta can be difficult to find for out-of-towners and wood updates are few and far between. You wouldn't be far off to say that Jefferson is Ldub's slightly younger and sluttier cousin; Its steep and technical but overall not a very difficult run. However, just like Gettin' Busy on the Little White, the steep and continuous nature of the river bed can turn on you if you're not on your game or miss a line. Elsewhere throughout the run you'll encounter a nice blend of skinny canyon chutes and pinches, narrow slots, more boulder gardens and a few ledges.
Describing the rapids is all but useless for Jefferson, there are just too many rapids in there to accurately describe them in any other situation or setting than the eddy above the drop in question.
The run is only 2.1(ish) miles long, but its continuous class IV+-V for all but a couple hundred feet of those 2.1 miles. The run is roadside-ish... easy to get into, not so easy to get out of. Once you leave the put in, the creek drops off the face of the earth and a hike out of the canyon to the road could take hours.
At lower flows, expect the beginning trip to involve lots of hip-shots against small to medium small sized boulders, a manky pin-ball affair. Much of this sort of whitewater is fairly boat scoutable, always watch out for wood, though. The first half mile of the run will show you the character of the creek; everything below that is the same style, just much bigger. Later the run starts to channelize more, get steeper, and a little cleaner but wood is always a potential issue so stay on your toes!
At medium flows, expect the river to be even faster. The nature of the run softens up a bit as it covers up a lot of the sharp, nasty OP rocks and causes the channels to green out a bit. The lines are all exactly the same, there is just a little bit more of a sense of urgency. Medium flows can create a lot less room for error and give a lot less scouting opportunities but are much more enjoyable. ELF flows on this river can cause more trouble than its worth. A healthy medium level is honestly your best "first-time level".
At High flows, expect to lose your mind. If you're on your game and know the river; you're gonna have a great day. However... This steep and continuous nature, combined with a very narrow riverbed causes some interesting issues to deal with. While Jefferson does channelize well, high water pushes the lines away from the middle of the river and more into the banks and outside corners of drops, exactly where all the root balls and undercut rocks are. Tread lightly at high water and follow a veteran.
Not to sound like a Debbie-downer; this run is worth the effort. The scenery is out of this world, it's something between The Grand Canyon Elwha and the Little White. The riverbed is made up of big sheets of bedrock and dotted with huge smooth boulders that sometimes sport a mantle of timber from high water events. While the big boulders in the gardens are round and unassuming, the average rock in the creek bed is sharp and jagged. The pin potential on this run increases exponentially with a decrease in water level. If you can, bring a beater boat for your first couple of trips and do not forget your elbow pads! WOOD, WOOD & more WOOD.
Either way, if you like incredibly dense forest scenery, bedrock slides, technical creeking and water that looks like it came out of a Disney movie make your way out to Jefferson Creek. Snap in, get a death grip on your paddle and start smiling!
You'll definitely be scouting plenty if you haven't been there before so plan for a couple of hours on the river. Once you know the lines or if you have someone to follow, a mellow Jefferson lap is around 30-40 minutes so save time for multiple laps!
This was a pretty low water day; but good times were had!
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