Little River Chairlift
02 February 2002
by: Ken Pevahouse
Those that attended were: Mark D', Dave Branham, Curt Ruffing, Kerry Appleton, Mark Duplisea, Hugh O'Brien, John Ellis, Vance Rochelle, Jimmy Gardner, and myself. The level was about 700 cfs or ½ ". Of the relatively limited number of rivers I have witnessed, this is by far the most spectacular. The water is sparkling clean of a turquoise green color. Looking down, you can see the contours of the bottom with boulders and pools. The bank has mature and weathered pines arranged beautifully as lone specimens. Waterfalls plummet from tortuous crags and sheer rock faces of the towering canyon walls. With the rugged beauty as a bonus came very exciting whitewater. Mark D', Dave B., and Curt R. were good and lucky enough to run the upper 2. The rest of us opted for chairlift. Mark Duplisea figured out that his boat slid easily on the wood chips of the trail and soon we were all sliding our boats with great speed down to the put-in. The upper 2 crew paddled up just as we had finished our lunches and soaked up a little scenery and sun. The first couple rapids were class II+ or III- and had nice eddies positioned well to boat scout from. Our group suffered a couple swims in these. We then approached a class III rapid with a serious looking undercut in the bend. Mark decided that we shouldn't loose Vance and Jimmy on his watch, so they took the terra firma tour. I want to note that you could clearly see the underwater boulders of the drops as you approached. The sunlight was also brightly lighting up these boulders through the clear water. Just as I was observing this on a seemingly benign drop, I was suddenly stopped by a sticky hole at the bottom. All of a sudden it was rodeo time! The hole forced me over, but I braced back up. I surfed violently as Kerry cheered me on. (She thought I was showing off). As I struggled to no avail to remove myself, I thought I saw Mark D' and Dave B. some distance away smiling with great pleasure. I swam out and ended the gratuitous entertainment. Next was Bottleneck (IV). We watched the upper 2 boys run the rapid and got their advice on the lines. The rapid looked technically difficult from shore. The route begins with a couple small warm-up drops and eddy catching. The last few moves are very technical. From an eddy river right, we peeled out and used the slack water behind a boulder in the center to facilitate a move into the bleeding and squirrelly semi-eddy river left. The current in this eddy was just slow enough to paddle high and ferry back across the rapid to the lip of the final drop. Just above the final drop was a boulder on the river right that jutted out and provided just enough slack water (if hit high) to prevent getting sucked down the left side. The left side of the final drop was a vortex looking froth with a poor entrance. After making the right side, all that was left was to ride out the churning froth. Many of us failed to execute the very last move properly and the rapid chastised us accordingly. The complexity and challenge of Bottleneck had everyone pumped. Hugh O'Brien and Mark Duplisea had encountered their first class IV and couldn't have chosen a better one to remember. Someday maybe I will get to experience the world class whitewater and scenery that lies upstream of chairlift. Speaking of upstream, we learned from a park ranger that someone had jumped off the 45 ft. Little River Falls that day for fun. The ranger apparently warned him of the penalties and then watched him proceed. He lived through the jump and the 35-degree water to tell about it.