2000 Metolius River
October 21, 2000 at 8:21 AM
Blast on the Metolius
Twenty OWA boaters got together over the weekend of October 21st to run the Metolius River on Saturday. We had a real colorful flotilla including 1 raft, 10 cats, 2 IK’s, 3 hardshell kayaks and a canoe. Having this many people turn out to do a club trip was amazing in light of the huge turnout last weekend on the Santiam run and pot luck. I’ve not worked out the math, but I imagine there were at least 45 different club members participating on the last two trips!
Most everyone drove over to Lower Bridge camp on Friday night, with most of us arriving after 9:00 PM. Most of us got to drive over the Santiam Pass in the middle of a pretty good snowstorm, there was 5 or 6 inches on the road by 9:15 pm. Snow always adds a little bit of a challenge when you’re towing a trailer! We got some pretty strange stares from the other folks driving the pass, with our inflated boats accumulating snow on the trailers!
It was raining Friday night when we got to camp, but the rain cleared out and we had a sunny and unseasonably warm day on both Saturday and Sunday. While Friday night was cool and soggy, Saturday night was bone-chilling cold due to the clear skies.
The group started off Saturday morning with Bernie Danylchuk preparing “made to order” omelets for everybody! Bernie really scored with the group by setting up everybody with a superb warm breakfast of omelets with an assist from Mike and Angie Evans making hash browns. Joe Belozer was maybe the “Boater of the Day” because he brought a big load of seasoned firewood from Portland to keep everybody warm on Friday night and Saturday morning.
The shuttle on Saturday morning took us a little over an hour each way. We had just a dusting of snow on the ridge, but it made the scenery just beautiful. The panoramic views of Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack and the Sisters in the sun with a fresh coating of snow made it worth getting up early. We shuttled down to Monte Camp above Lake Billy Chinook and then everybody piled into Don Gordon’s van for the ride back to the top. No one has run a road grader over the shuttle route since spring 1987, so we had a body shaking ride both ways to compact Bernie’s breakfast and loosen us up for the river!
We put on the river just about noon, about an hour later than desired, but with this many people, everything always takes longer than expected. The weather was just stunning and the colors of the leaves vivid. The river looked like a kaleidoscope with the crystal clear water magnifying and reflecting the yellows, oranges and reds of leaves floating and tumbling in the current. There were kokanee just everywhere you looked!
We ran down the river something like 7 or 8 miles and came upon a new log that spanned all but 12-15 feet of the river, with safe passage on far river left. This log is just above a sharp, right hand dogleg turn that has tree limbs sticking out of the eddy on the inside of the turn. This eddy is recognized by having bare soils, a sandy tan color, evident on both sides of the river. Just below this eddy is an island where you take the right channel. Sixty to seventy-five yards below the island are two logs that span almost the entire river. The first has a wider passage far river right than the next. The second log is a much tougher one to get past. This fall, many people who are experienced boaters have had difficulty getting past this log. It spans from left to right, with the end of the log about 12 inches above the water. You have to have the tail of your boat in the bushes to avoid impaling yourself or your boat on the end of the log. When you put the back of your boat into the bushes, they tend to push back and force you back left into the log. This one is pretty tough to scout, so be careful!
After these two logs, comes the really cool spot! This is a place where two logs form a downstream “V” and you have to go over the top of the logs where the “V” forms a chute 12 to 15 feet wide. Water is surging over the top of the log and while you might hang up for a second on top of the log as you go over it, everybody went through without incident. While this place looks very scary, most people have been able to maneuver it safely and easily. You can pull into an eddy above this spot marked by a red cloth hanging from the trees on river right. You can see the trees forming the “V” downstream from the eddy, say it is maybe 75 yards downstream. I suggest you at least scout this spot because it will easily catch any new logs drifting downstream in the future and could be completely blocked.
Even if Uncle Mikey believes this section of the river is not worth a scout, I think it is relatively difficult and I urge you to be careful. There are just scores of logs in the river all up and down this float and if they move around due to high water or wind, you could be presented a whole different challenge. While this weekend there were no total closures of the river by logs, I know sometime in the future I will come upon one that will surprise me. We’ve had a couple of swimmers in the water this fall and this scares me very much. There are just literally hundreds of logs in the river that could catch and pin a swimmer.
After the busy section where we were dodging logs, we stopped and had a bite of lunch. It was starting to get pretty cold as the sun went behind the hills for the majority of the remaining trip. The Bald Eagles didn’t seem to mind the cold; they circled high on the updrafts over our heads or they would watch us from perches in the trees as we floated by or they would fly over us at low level just to take a peek. I never get tired of watching Bald Eagles!
We got down to the takeout at the top of Monte campground about 5:30 or so. We had enough time to change clothes, load our boats and drive out about 10 miles toward Lower Bridge camp before it was dark. While stacking our boats on my trailer, we used a new invention Tom Hanson put together to protect a raft or cat from the sharp oarlocks on the boat below it. I think he has a winner! We met many cars and trucks full of hunters on the road and there were many camps of hunters along the shuttle route. Poor bambi…..
We all got back to camp and built a huge fire and cooked up a chili dinner with everybody bringing a side dish for the potluck dinner. As we finished dinner, it was getting COLD. No one wanted to get away from the fire, as it meant sudden chill! Folks stayed up and told river stories late into the night, with Big Water Bob telling the best stories!
Folks cleared out pretty early Sunday am, but we did get to set around the campfire and have coffee and chat about the trip and future OWA trips. I guess the next club trips are the two OWA trips on the Rogue River over Thanksgiving weekend. While both are full, I think next year I’ll sign up early to spend Turkey Day on the river.
This weekend was a pretty neat adventure. Everybody worked together to assure the whole group had fun and were safe, both on and off the river. A trip like this requires a bunch of people to help make it a success and there seems to be a whole lot of people wanting this new rafting club to be successful. I think this proves to me there is a place for a group of people wanting to get together and focus on having fun.
We all decided we should have another fall Metolius float next year, but maybe just a couple of weeks earlier September to assure warmer weather! See you then!
The following folks participated in this trip: Joe Belozer, Lew Bowers, Bob Broome, Jim Cavanaugh, Bernie Danylchuk, Angie Evans, Mike Evans, Susan Fries, Don Gordon, Karl Newkirk, Dewey Nigma, David Saquety, Larry See, Cara Shedley, Cary Solberg, Dave Summers, Kendra Summers, Jessie Weinmann, and Ovie Weinmann.