by Jan Dooley
Spring flows along with summer weather made for a great paddling combination this Labor Day weekend. With large numbers of salmon pooling in the warm waters of the Klamath River, large amounts of cool Trinity River helped to prevent a fish die off. The flow at Cedar Flat was 1400 cfs on Saturday Sept 1. On Sunday and Monday, flows decreased to 1000 cfs. Typical flow for this time of year is 450 cfs.
POST paddlers gathered at Hayden Flat campground. With Jan Dooley running this trip, there was special concern about the fire risk based on her track record. Sure enough, a fire started on Wednesday at Hayden Flat due to a fire. The USFS assigned us an alternate campsite and then cancelled the change on Friday. The eighteen paddlers found each other and proceeded to form an easy going camp. The group included the Neffs, Cassells, Olsons, Jarrells, Bob Lansburg, John Marold, Eric Forsman, Jan Lockie, Tim Clohessy and Jan Dooley. The rest of Jan’s family was at a soccer tournament. Jake especially was disappointed because he wanted to run Pigeon Point for the first time. Ruth also wanted to show off her new Class II solo canoe skills.
We paddled Skunk Point to French Creek on Saturday. Since the take-out for the Hawkins Bar run has become so difficult, Jan recommended this run as comparable. In past years, we thought of this as a Class I run with Class III rapids at the beginning and end. Between Big Flat and French Creek is actually a fun Class II run. There are several stretches of flat water, but the Class II rapids come every half mile or so. The put in at Skunk Point is a little tricky. It goes through the group campsite, so courtesy is needed. There’s a steep path down that requires team work to make it safer. Some of the group continued past the French Creek take-out to Hayden Flat. They paddled the Class III French Creek rapid. Since the group planned to paddle Hayden to Cedar the next day, these boaters avoided the hassle of hauling their boats and left them on the beach overnight.
Sunday, the Hayden to Cedar run saw the water levels dropping, but still more than double the usual flow. The boulder gardens were somewhat washed out, but the waves in the mini-gorge were significantly larger. Alas, they were too big for surfing. Two Foot Drop looked daunting, but the right side provided good passage for everyone. Picket Fence became easier. There was a big hole on the right side. The left side proved quite open with multiple choices through the bottom ledge. At Rapid 15.87, you could run just about anywhere except over the central rock. There were remarkably few swims during the entire weekend. The high flows made the water rather chilly, so people limited their voluntary swims too.
Monday found most of the group anxious to get home at a reasonable hour. The more distant travelers paddled a short run from Skunk Point to White’s Bar. The locals paddled Lewiston to Steele Bridge. Tim introduced us to a friend that lives on the river near Lewiston. She invited us to put on in her front yard. This section of river is one we rarely do. It proved to be a delightful I+ run with lots of wildlife.
As usual the food was good and plentiful. The company was delightful as expected for old friends getting together for a shared, loved activity. We missed some of the usual participants, and enjoyed some new ones. An old participant, Ilsa, showed up Saturday night. She was traveling in the area and sought us out. She is just as lovely and lively as usual. Our group is showing its age, as there was no Pigeon Point run this year. We only had one run each day but with 15 boats on the river, we formed a colorful, fun, skilled, half mile long flotilla. Thank you all for a wonderful weekend!
By Jan Dooley