Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Salmon River Gorge

Breathtaking. If you're lucky enough to have ever been here you know. The Salmon River Gorge is without a doubt one of the most awing canyons I've ever had the pleasure of venturing through. With an unsuspectingly deep and waterfall ridden gorge in the middle of Mt. Hood's thick evergreen forest, this river will blow you away.

Virgin to the Salmon River Gorge, Joe Stumpfel, Bobby Miller, Ryan Young and myself joined experienced SRG paddlers Ryan Scott and Luke Spencer for an epic adventure. After some difficult navigation of un-marked forest service roads we arrived at a small campsite near the confluence of the Salmon River and Linney Creek. Here we geared up and hiked 2 miles to the put-in at Split Falls.

Ryan Young hiking to the put-in

Ryan Scot boofing Split Falls

Myself on Split Falls

Finally on the water, the following mile or so after Split Falls was relatively slow. Luckily my attention and interest could be directed towards the beautiful river banks painted with white, purple and pink rhododendrons. After the flat section and a few mellow 5-10ft. ledges we arrived at the second significant rapid Vanishing Falls. While my line on this tight and technical bad boy wasn't so hot and actually ended in a swim, Bobby and Joe both cleaned it with steeze.

Ryan Scott on a 10ft. ledge

Joe getting his bow up on Vanishing Falls

Bobby taking a must make boof directly after Vanishing Falls

Not too much further down stream we arrived at the most well known and what I believe to be the most fun drop on the run, Frustration Falls. With the top 20 footer now choked with logs, Frustration Falls is currently a semi-manky 10 footer into a vertical sliding 40footer. The crux of this drop is immediately after the first 10 footer where you must fight the currents that pull you towards the sketchy river left edge before lining up for the 40 footer immediately after. Luckily Ryan Young, Bobby, Joe, and I all managed to make it to the pool below each with pretty smooth lines.

Ryan Young at the lip of the 40 footer on Frustration Falls

Joe showing off his C1 boof stomp on Frustration

With euphoric vibes we all proceeded a few stokes downstream and arrived at the 20 footer before Final Falls. We quickly made it down the 20 footer to spent some time enjoying the beauty of Final Falls. Choosing not to run or jump the marginal 70-80 footer, we all let our boats ghost ride Final then rappelled off a small tree 80 feet down to the pool below. After we collected all of our gear and took our last mental photographs of Final Falls we proceed to paddle downstream through the couple miles of mank before arriving at the Salmon River Campground, our take out.

The 20 footer between Frustration and Final Falls

Myself, Ryan Scott, Bobby and Joe at the lip of Final Falls

Rappelling beside Final Falls (a very cool place to be)

Final from below

As the pictures illustrate, the Salmon River Gorge is yet another gem of the Pacific Northwest . If you have the skills, motivation, and crew to pursue the Salmon River Gorge I recommend that you get out there and take a look for yourself. Enjoy.

All photos by
Luke Spencer