Assessing our food stuffs for breakfast you could tell we probably needed to get home soon. After a delicious breakfast of cold tuna, hot sauce, and macaroni sans cheese, we were ready to move on to bigger and better things. We met two other crews at the put-in and planned on meeting them up the trail. We geared up and set off on what would become the most enjoyable hike I’ve ever taken. Carrying your boat for 4 miles isn’t really that much of a chore when you’re engulfed in a big beautiful dynamic landscape. Gorgeous cascades, stunning views of the canyon below and the ultra-scenic footbridges crossing side tributaries made for a pretty easy going trek.
An 8 foot Fluid Solo for scale, simply gorgeous. photo: David Schmitt
First look at Metlako. photo Leif Anderson
Skoonichuck was our first test, and when I say first I mean it was put on, float 20 feet and be at the lip of the waterfall. The drop itself is around 40 feet into a small pool followed by a 10 foot boof. We all decided to fire it up. After leif went off the second drop backwards and I chose to perfect my roll to boof technique Natalie took the cleanest line award on our first drop of the day. We worked our way downstream through pristine basalt gorges that were out of this world. The hike up may have given an incredible view of these gorges below, but on the water they became a kayaking sanctuary.
Leif on Skoonichuck! photos: Natalie Kramer
A few fun read-and-run boofs later it was time for round two, Punch Bowl Falls. The other two groups were either taking their last glances at the lead-in, or already waiting at the bottom when we pulled up. The creasing lip on this drop makes it a little more challenging, but all in all our lines came out great. All it took was a little speed to ride up on the pillow and one steady sweep stroke into a tuck. I popped up in the pool below to find everyone beaming ear to ear. With the adrenaline still flowin we paddled downstream to the take-out before the big boy, Metlako Falls. Five of us decided we were in, Leif, Natalie, myself and the Montana boys Jared J. and DJ Stoneman.
For those unfamiliar with Metlako Falls, it is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the U.S. Its height has been debated from 80 to 100 feet. It’s enclosed nature has made it a little difficult to get a true measurement. I don’t claim to have the best eye for measuring waterfalls but I’d put it at about 85 feet. Really it’s neither here or there, it’s a big drop, but one of the most beautiful out there. If in some twisted way you can consider throwing yourself off a huge waterfall “easy” then Metlako is probably one that is. The lead-in to the drop is “relatively” simple; just line-up downstream, in the center of the channel, and paddle slowly into the lead-in sloping chute and away you go. The key is “relatively”, running big drops is a serious undertaking and takes a cool head. Free fall in general, let alone in a kayak, is not a natural feeling for the human mind or body and takes sense of very acute control. Knowing that this is what we signed up for we all headed downstream.
Eagle creek is unlike any place in this world. It’s a site that has to be witnessed first had, whether you kayak it or not. It draws you in deeper with every bend in the trail or horizon line downstream.