Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Metlako Gets Topo-Duoed

In recent years Metlako Falls on Eagle Creek has become the most frequently run 80+ ft. waterfall in the Pacific Northwest, if not the world. Metlako is about as close to a perfect waterfall as anyone could ever imagine. The calm current above slowly falls off the rolling lip to the deep pool below. After having claimed three descents on the spectacular drop, I knew that she was yearning for someone to take the next step. Yep, that's right Metlako was ready for its first descent in a two man kayak. The idea of running Metlako in a Topo-Duo had been running through my mind, and I'm sure the minds of many others, for a good while, but it wasn't until Sam Freihofer and the BDP boys showed up that the stars finally aligned. Sam and I discussed the idea for a good while, and we concluded that one way or another we were gonna make it happen.

Plans had been brewing for a crew of paddlers to meet up with Steve Fisher and friends for an outing at Metlako, so Sam and I figured we would make that our day to huck. As soon as our good friends at Next Adventure confirmed that they would not only let us use, but also deliver from Portland to Eagle Creek, a demo Topo-Duo, everything was in line ready to go.

In the crowded Eagle Creek Parking lot, Sam and I hoisted the awkward vessel onto our shoulders and made the most grueling mile long hike of our lives. What seemed like an eternity later we finally arrived at our put-in above Lower Punchbowl Falls. From there we paddled upstream to the base of Upper Punchbowl to practice a few roles. After some successful and not-so-successful roles, we determined that yes, we would be holding onto our paddles for this one.

Confident, Sam and I stomped Lower Punchbowl and paddled the last few rapids before Metlako. In the pool directly above the lip we met up with Andy Walker and Evan Garcia to discuss once more our plan. Evan was first to give it and from the lip we could tell he flew a bit over the bars. In the pool Evan struggled with a few hand rolls and eventually ended up swimming to shore.

Sam and I were up next. One final time we discussed our game plan, then peeled out into the current. We approached the lip slow and in control, made our last adjustments, then let gravity take over. From the back where I was positioned, I felt our entry angle couldn't have been any better. Upon impact we went incredibly deep. When we reached the surface I righted the kayak to find Sam missing from the front of the boat. Being in the front of the boat and having gone so deep Sam took a savage hit and was ejected from the boat. We had done it, we had just paddled the tallest waterfall ever before in a Topo-Duo. Soon I met up with Sam, my co-pilot, and shared with him the euphoric state of mind.

Safe and sound, Evan, Same and I watched Andy Walker style Metlako for his second time in a week. He threw his paddle at the lip and emerged from the pool upright and stoked. It had been a successful day. With only two paddles between the four of us we hurried down stream to find the rest of our equipment. Luckily before long we had gathered all of our paddles and at the portage drop were able relax some, taking in the spectacular surroundings. We had just completed yet another satisfying day of paddling one of the most amazing rivers in the Pacific Northwest.

-- Photography by Bryon Dorr
-- Video contributions by Andy Walker and myself 

1 comment:

gjghgh said...

that waterfall looks sick- pretty good footage too. thanks for guiding us down the river this past week. we had an awesome time and you showed us some great routes. we'll get some footage up soon from the Pacific NW voyage. cheers! -jeff