Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Girls of the Gorge

This month I've joined team Girls of the Gorge to compete in a 32-day kayaking event called the Eddy Flower Vertical Challenge. My team members are four very motivated women from the Columbia River Gorge: Heather Herbeck, Monica Gokey, Susan Hollingsworth and Kate Wagner.

From May 15th to June 15th we are competing with teams across the nation to determine who can paddle the most vertical feet of whitewater, while raising money and awareness for cancer survivors. All donations benefit First Descents, a incredible non-profit organization that provides outdoor therapy adventures for young adults who have battled cancer.

This is my 4th year competing in the Eddy Flower Vertical Challenge. I look forward this event every year because it is great motivation to go out and push myself while doing what I love and supporting a great cause. Kayaking has definitely brought a lot of happiness and satisfaction to my life and it feels really good to help other people find that outlet.

The young adult cancer population, (ages 18-39) is the most underserved population within the cancer world and the programs that First Descents provides free of charge play a key role in a cancer survivors emotional, psychological and physical healing. It costs First Descents approximately $1,000 per camper for a one week session and donations will go directly toward providing these much needed programs to a very deserving group of people.

Team Girls of the Gorge is only $100 away from our goal of sending one camper to First Descents! Please help us reach that goal by donating online at:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tanner Creek Gorge

I stumbled on a hiking forum that showed some impressive waterfalls on Tanner Creek so Drew and I decided to hike in and investigate the gorge above Wahclella Falls. We hiked Forest Road 777 up the ridge on the east side of the canyon and then bushwacked about 1,000 vertical feet down a fairly steep, wooded slope to the creek.

Topo map of the gorge from

Hiking in on Forest Road 777

Rock slide a about 1.5 miles up the road

After we passed the creek that flows into Tanner at Wahclella falls,
we left 777 and hiked down the next ridge for about 45 min. until
we reached Tanner Creek

Our first view of the creek was a long series of cascading
slides that ended in this 15-20 ft drop, Caesura Falls.

Looking downstream from Caesura, the lead-in to the next drop . . .

40 ft. Sundance Falls!

Perfect 40 footer

The river really started to gorge up here.
It would be really hard work to hike out with a kayak.

Just below Sundance there was a series of stacked falls that dropped
into a slot canyon just above 65 ft. Wahclella Falls.

Looking downstream from Sundance Falls to the lip of Swaawa Falls.

60 ft. Swaawa Falls. Best lunch spot ever!

Almost perfect . . .

Except for a log in the landing, and a 100 ft deep
walled-in vertical gorge below it (with a bunch of wood).

From the lip of Swaawa looking downstream

Looking back upstream at Swaawa.

The gorge makes a 45 degree turn to the right and
then the outlet comes into view downstream.

The last stretch starts with two log choked slot drops.

Right above Wahclella Falls is a 20 ft log choked slide
and a 40 ft. drop that pushes into an undercut on river left.

I'm guessing this is the slot where Seth Swallen belayed Erik Boomer
to run Wahclella. Wow!

Looking down at a hole at the lip of Wahclella Falls. Burly.

A photo from last spring of Boomer getting lowered into the slot above Wahclella.

It was a bitch of a hike out straight up from Wahclella Falls. It kind of discouraged me from wanting to hike a boat in to explore the upper slides, but it's one of the best hikes I've done in the gorge!

Waterfall Hunting

It starts raining in the Pacific Northwest around late November and may not stop for 6 months. This kind of weather may sound less than ideal for most outdoor enthusiasts, but as a kayaker, it is my favorite time of year to go waterfall hunting. All the rivers and creeks fill up with water, creating a giant playground. There are falls hidden all throughout the woods. Most of them I hear about from other kayakers or fishermen. Sometimes I just start hiking up a steep river bank and see what I can find.

Even after living in the Mount Hood area for four years, I still discovered a handful of new drops this winter. Many of them I decided not to run because of their size, but here are few of the findings:

The hike into Butte Creek

Drew Eastman, in search of the falls

Bringing in the New Year on Upper Butte Creek Falls (22 ft.)

January 1, 2011

Just downstream is Lower Butte Creeks Falls (78 ft.)

(First successful descent by Chris Korbulic)

Just a short drive away is Abiqua Falls (94 ft.)

(First successful descent by Jesse Coombs)

Susan Hollingsworth on Little Klickitat Falls, WA