Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Molalla River: Table Rock Fork Gorge

The author portaging the only log we had to deal with.

The Table Rock Fork Gorge is not often run. Water levels are hard to predict, the run is short and it can not usually be linked with other sections. These factors along with the committing nature of the gorge proper limit how many people see this section every year. I, however, find myself running it once or twice a year as flows allow and boredom sets in. The run is relatively short, but a good change of pace, great scenery and it usually presents an opportunity to show someone a new section of water. The gorge never really gets beyond class IV, though this changes as the water levels increase. The crux drop in the gorge consists of a 4-6' ledge/hole that can be very retentive at higher flows. This combined with the fact that drop is jammed between smooth rock walls perhaps 8' apart can make for some exciting times.

On this particular day, Markus and I found ourselves fighting a very poor start to the boating season as many of the standard late fall rain storms had failed to materialize. In search of something to do, we decided to head up to the Table Rock Fork Gorge. Markus had never seen it and I am always up for taking someone new through the gorge. We drove up to the take out, which also is the put in for the 'Old Bridge' section of the Molalla. (This is the higher put-in option for the Three Bears run) We then did a quick, but thorough scout of the main gorge for wood and to check the crux drop to see how retentive it would be. Things looked good so we headed up to the second bridge to put in.

The author running a rapid above the gorge.

Things started out with some great technical class III boulder gardens. Things got bigger as we entered the gorge. I went first so as to set up and grab some pictures of Markus coming through the crux drop. I was in my playboat and got stuck in the ledge hole in the heart of the gorge. After some back surfing and clawing at the wall I was finally able to grab my paddle, get a couple strokes in and break free. Markus cruised through without trouble.

Markus running the crux drop in the gorge.

Markus finishing up the hard part of the gorge.
(The crux drop is in the background, notice the wood in the left slot.)

We only had one log to contend with that should be portaged. It was another great day on the Molalla. If you do venture out on this section, be sure to scout the gorge before putting on. One misplaced log could spell disaster for you. If the Three Bears is getting marginal, the Table Rock Fork should be great. See you on the water.

1 comment:

Let's go rafting! -Will Volpert said...

Hmm. I thought you had given up kayaking.