These days there is a very cool phenomenon that happens around the kayaking scene every weekend. You get a text from one or two of your paddling bros, you make plans, show up at the put in, and without fail there will be 6-10 other bros that just happen to be there at the same time as you. It happens every time regardless of where you decide to go and its awesome!
So a few Saturdays ago, we drove past Arlington, WA at the town of Oso. Myself, Mike Nash and Nick Hinds sat and waited for the fashionably late to arrive. We were soon met by Brock Gavery, followed by Brett Barton, Chipper Maney, Ben Hawthorne, Rob McKibbon, Christian Knight and Joe Howard. Somewhere along the way Dan Patrinellis and Adrian Wigston showed up.
This was my first time on Deer Creek and from what I understood about it (and with a group of this size) the odds were in favor of carnage. The locals often refer to Deer Creek as Robe's big brother. As in the big brother that doesn't think twice about knocking the snot out of your for not sharing your favorite toy.
Good beta on this run is hard to come by as it can be hard to access and only runs when Robe is in the 7-8ft + range. We drove toward the put-in hoping the loggers kindly left the gate open for the remaining 3 miles of road past Lake Cavanaugh. Not so much. Once we realized that we were in for a 3+ mile long hike, a couple of the bros opted to run our shuttle and drink some brewskies.
McKibbon and Adrian Wigston hiking in
some of the group taking a snack break before starting the bushwack decent to the river
Deer Creek starts off with some pushy class III+ for the first mile or so. The ominous feel of the canyon, the relentless nature of the whitewater and not knowing the wood situation keeps you on edge. After a short paddle you come to the first big rapid which can be scouted from the river left. The following shots are all from the 1st major rapid.
Ben running the right line
Ben a little further down
Joe Howard on the sam rapid running left
Mike Nash driving hard and boofing to avoid a big hole
Adrian boofing the left entrance
Some continuous class IV and V read and run led the group to an eddy on the river left. We got some vague beta above a horizon line and ended up blue angling into a pretty big set with some really nice features. I vividly recall, "there is a big wave hole in the entrance, punch that and the rest is mellow." So as we approached the rapid the wave hole was pretty obvious and I gathered some speed, took a big stroke, threw my weight forward and popped through. Whew! Glad that was out of the way. What he failed to mention was that immediately behind the wave hole lurked a 6ft pour over with a massive hydraulic that required a crucially timed boof. I didn't have the angle I needed and did a bit of old school playboating, flushed out and scrambled for a micro eddy on the river right.
Super Joe from the correct eddy for the 2nd big rapid
Luckily everyone made it through and we ended up catching an eddy on the right above one of the longer rapids on the river. I grabbed this shot of McKibbon making the ferry to line up for the rest.
More class IV read and run lead to the 3rd big rapid. Scout from the river right.
McKibbon maybe a little further left than he wanted
Kiwi Mike crushing it
and finishing it off...
From here the action continues for another couple miles. I would grade the run out of Deer Creek as quality class V read and run at its best. We had some flips and surfs and spins and funky lines but everyone made it through without a hitch. When in doubt, its down the middle and boof! This is an outstanding run with breathtaking scenery and solid rapids. I would recommend it for anyone that wants a little day trip adventure.
Here is a shot of the bridge at the takeout. We were thinking this was probably a medium flow at about 1500 cfs.