Friday, July 20, 2007

North Santiam: Packsaddle to Mill City

After a successful and uneventful trip down the lower Clackamas, the guys seemed ready for something a little more challenging for their new pontoon boats. So, we headed for the North Santiam. This is a great beginner run and provides lots of opportunities to practice boat control in a relatively safe river.

Packsaddle Park

The trip starts out with a class II boulder garden. Everyone bounced their way through without too much trouble. The trip proceeded without issue until we got below Gates where the rapids get a little bit bigger. Knowing that a challenging rapid lay ahead, I opted to stay in the boat to lend assistance rather than to hop out and take pictures. It ended up being the right choice even though I would have love to have some pictures of a raft looping backwards. Everything turned out fine except for a lost hat and some minor aches and pains. Hopefully it was a good learning experience for everyone how quickly the river can turn on you.

Shortly after the flip, we came to the largest rapid of the day, Spencer's Hole. This is a great play spot for hardshell kayaks, but can present a challenge for small inflatables. We watched an inflatable kayak surf in the hole sans rider for almost a full minute before flushing out. This gave everyone pause, which I think made them select a line to hit rather than charging in blind. Good choice. Everyone cleaned up on Spencer's and the kayakers got some good play in the wave.

Shawn volunteers to go first
David is up next
Nick takes his turn at Spencer's
Alex enjoys the sun below Spencer's

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