Monday, June 09, 2008

Knife River

The North Shore of Lake Superior got slammed with as much as 5" of rain in 24 hours last week. This deluge sent the river levels soaring upwards and brought the North Shore Creeks back to life.

The Plan was to hit the Knife river in the morning, then hit either the French, the Stewart, or the very high Upper St. Louis in the afternoon. Unfortunately, other obligations limited us to paddling Sunday only and the creeks that had flooded so quickly had flushed most of that water down to the Lake by then. The French was too low to run, we were told the Stewart was too low (though later found out other people made the run and found it low, but passable), and the knife was low but runnable. We decided to try and hit the knife, then go and get some big wave action on the Upper.

The knife was a bit boney, but we made it down all right. The only carnage occurred when Brian J took a bit of a beating when he flipped in the lower section of the river and tried rolling repeatedly while getting bounced off the rocks on the river bottom. It looked like he took several good knocks, but no permanent damage. We were disappointed to find a small forest of trees wedged into the river right channel of Fish falls, making what would have been a really fun, 2-stage drop impassable. Nora has pics of it on her blog. The good news is that it forced us to check out the "fish ladder" that comprises the river left channel. It's a c-shaped groove in the rock that is a class IV- to IV drop, depending on the level. Yesterday it had a couple of small waves/holes at the top, followed by an 8-10' falls into a turbulent hole, then some more waves/holes and rocks to dodge on the way out. Aaron was kind enough to probe the run for us, dropping into the torrent at the bottom of the falls and punching cleanly through. Once we saw how easily he passed through, Graeme, myself, and Bill K lined up and headed through. It was a fun little run and definitely made the trip more memorable. The next couple hundred yards of Class III were boney, but fun, as was the drop below the Highway 61 bridge. We all made it to the takeout safe and sound, albeit a bit late.

When we got back to the cars it was already 3:45, so we didn't have time for the Upper. While this was dissappointing, we decided to head over to the Lester and just run the short stretch below Almost Always as a consolation run. It was fun, but I'm definitely wanting more. Hopefully we'll get another good rain so we can hit the French, the Stewart, or maybe take Mike and Melissa up on their offer to guide us down the Lester. Next time....

These are a couple pics (both of Graeme at the bridge drop) and videos (me on the Fish Ladder and Aaron on the bridge drop) I took with my little POS camera. Ole was kind enough to give me cd's of his shots from the day, but I didn't get a chance to download and post them yet. I also have a couple more videos that will make their way to my YouTube page in the next 48 hours or so. Stay tuned!

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