2012 North Santiam River

September 22, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Trip Report: North Santiam River

September 22, 2012 • Submitted by Rick Hendon

The 2012 North Santiam float was a run in which all the right ingredients aligned perfectly. There were 30 of us in 14 rafts and catarafts with two inflatable kayaks. A dozen folks showed up for breakfast at the Hanger Cafe in Mulino, a cheerful greasy spoon adjacent to the Mulino airport ... the parking lot is shared by trucks, cars, boats and airplanes. It’s quite wonderful and they are expert at quickly getting out big breakfasts to groups. We were finished and paid up by 8:45 a.m.

The breakfast gang caravanned down Oregon Highway 213 which goes through Silverton and Sublimity and has a top-of-the-world feeling to it – one of the prettiest and most bucolic drives around. Distance to the put-in is just over 60 miles, but travel time from the Hanger to Packsaddle on that scenic road is well over an hour. That drive has become one of the great pleasures of this run for me.

There had been lots of talk around the breakfast table and online about the North Santiam River being “a handful” at this flow (3500+ CFS). There was discussion about going around Carnivore instead of running it, but all those heebie-jeebies turned out to be much like kids scaring themselves before going out trick-or-treating at Halloween.

We set our shuttle for two take-outs, one at Fisherman’s Bend Park (about nine miles) and the other, downstream at Mehama (about 15 miles). The put-in was crowded with several groups vying for the ramp, but everyone got sorted out and we cast off before noon into cool air and brilliant sunlight. This flow, something just under 4,000 CFS is optimum, perfect and delicious for this river. In the shallow stretches, almost all the bones were hidden and the three notable rapids, Spencer’s Hole, Carnivore and the Mill City Falls were smothered just a little bit so that they made you look like you knew what you were doing. Nobody tumped over and the defibrillator stayed in its case. It got handed off to someone more responsible than me for its next use, although I’ll miss it; will now have to make other plans to get my garden tractor started.

To my mind, a group this size is just right for a day run.

Thirty people in a dozen or more boats is small enough so that everyone can raft up or beach for lunch all together, and the group has cohesion and visual contact with nearly everyone throughout the run.  I think it makes for a safer run and it’s just more enjoyable to be a cog in one tight group, than a number in a herd.

My thanks to every one of you for making the 2012 North Santiam run a complete success.

Some of you traveled well over 100 miles to join up and some of you brought highly entertaining dogs.

If you were ever going to be a dog, wouldn’t you want to be named Hash Brown?

Click here to see a video one of the trip participants took on the river.

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