This is a steep run with the most difficult rapids in the first 2.5 miles on the Middle Fork and in the narrow gorge where the Middle Fork flows into the South Fork. Some of the gradient is 160 fpm. Brush, logs, and tight maneuvering provide ample opportunity for bridges, pins, and broaches, of which there have been plenty. Scouting and reasonable thinking carry the day. It contains three serious rapids, one class 5. If any of these rapids are jammed with logs, the only options are to hike 0.5 mile around the gorge or to hike up and out to the road on the right slope. The upper half of the rapids leading to the gorge can be portaged on the right, while the lower half is run down into the gorge.
The second rapids, class 5, is a longer one, beginning on the Middle Fork, colliding into the South Fork, and continuing another 50 yards. The third rapids is a short class 4. None of these can be portaged due to the vertical gorge walls. Scout carefully before entering the gorge. It is no place for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic. Once out of the 0.5-mile-long gorge, the South Fork is class 3 to the lake. Character: forested; gorge.
© Pete Giordano & the Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.