Trip Report: Molalla River - Jan 26, 2020, 3500 cfs

Molalla River Trip Report

Submitted by Jared Linkhart, photos by Scott Harvey

After many messages, scanning river gauges, and phone calls Saturday, a group of
hardy boaters looking for some high water fun decided on the Molalla river for a Sunday
funday. The river was coming back up and we estimated the flow to be 3500 CFS while
we were on it. We met up in Molalla at the Safeway parking lot, finished rigging and
consolidated vehicles to head upriver.
We launched just above the Turner Creek bridge just a little bit after 11 am. The water
was moving fast and we felt it take us immediately downstream. Matt and Steve took
the lead in the puma as we headed into Papa Bear. Three of us followed the puma in my raft, not making it look nearly as easy as Matt and Steve did

We rounded the right hand corner at the bottom of the rapid in celebration just in
time to hear a clear whistle blast just above us. As we turned to look upstream, an
upside down cataraft came into view. We started looking for a swimmer and he quickly
came into view also. Shannon fired off a throw bag from her cat boat that was a dead
eye shot. As soon as Joe grabbed the line, he pulled Shannon back into the current from
the micro eddy she stopped in. We started working our way towards Joe and managed
to get him in our paddle raft. In the recovery, the rope ended up loose in the water, so we
went after it. We caught up to the rope just a little way above Mama Bear rapid.
Behind us every other paddler in our group was working to get the cataraft corralled
into a very limited supply of eddies. They got it stopped above us, and Chris Massey
jumped out of his kayak, righted the cat, and rowed down to us so Joe could hop back in.
We pushed off right above Mama Bear, and it was big. The left side rock that makes
up half of the “goal post” slot you must aim for had water flowing over the top of it, and
the chute going through the middle was fast with a good hit at the bottom. Everyone
made it through safely and the ride through the tiny canyon was fast. For a little while
the river eases up a bit. But at this flow you could never let your guard down and relax.
We soon approached the Bear Creek bridge just above Baby Bear. There is currently
a log on the island completely blocking the left channel, so we all ran the right side of
the island.

We had another small break of not-so-intense whitewater leading up to Goldilocks,
the last big set of rapids. We scouted on the way up (thanks to Scott Harvey for having
us check) and we found a large doug fir with root wad blocking a good bit of the left
(favored) channel leading up to the boulder at the bottom of the rapid. Most of us ran
the right side channel and then crossed over to the left of the big boulder.
Our one kayaker flipped coming around the boulder and was upside down for an
extended amount of time. From our view I thought he had bailed because I couldn’t see
a paddle attempting a roll. We started whistling an alert to everyone that we were going
to have a swimmer going into Porridge Bowl. Miraculously, Chris fought through and
rolled up coming out of Goldilocks.

After Porridge Boal the river eases up for the last few miles, and we had time to relax
a little and admire the beauty of the Molalla river canyon. We took out at the Cedars just
below the house with the Marlboro pack on the back deck at 2 pm.
It was an incredible trip with a fantastic group of boaters including Nate Soukesian,
Skip Currier, Shannon Scroggins, Matt Saucy, Scott Harvey, Mark Darula, Jeff Andre,
Steve Oslund, Chris Massey, and Joe Wright. Also thanks to Patrick Petree for taking
photos and video for us. The log at Baby Bear was moving when we were there, and it
will probably move on its own. The log in Goldilocks will probably be there long term, so
scout on your way up to determine your route ahead of time. See you on the river!
Jared Linkhart