I started getting excited emails from my friend Chris Dawkins a couple months ago talking about a little creek that is difficult to catch, but that he was determined to get on again with the high water year. With the big snow pack and crazy weather this spring has brought us, this little creek that flows for something like 2 days a year decided to stick around long enough for us to have an amazing adventure.
I jumped at the opportunity to join the trip, feeling that this may be my only chance to paddle this little creek in Idaho, Sheep Creek.
Driving through eastern Oregon
We put in on what looked like a drainage ditch at a local ranch. The run begins with gentle winding through willows. Already we are off to a unique start. The willows, unfortunately, have begun to take over the creek bed of about the first third of the run. It adds a whole new level of difficulty when you have to battle willows while running rapids!
Winding through the Willows
Chris Making the Move in the Willows
Unsure about camping downstream with the canyon walls closing in a bit, we set up right around mile 11 or 12 the first night. We had a great camp and kept ourselves entertained with a hilarious game of telephone charades.
Getting into the Canyon
Camp Night One
Laura Acting out a Trolley Car
We continued downstream in the morning through mostly class III fun and a longer IV-ish rapid to a known sieve, Redwall rapid. We all took one look, threw our boats over our shoulders, and walked. There was some chatter about the possibility of running it if it were a day trip rather than a self support in a tiny canyon, but we were all happy playing it safe.
Scouting Redwall Rapid
The View Upstream
And Downstream...Tiny Little Canyon
The canyon was amazing! I couldn't believe how narrow and deep it was. I think we all had sore necks from looking up and around the whole time.
Willie Can't Stop Smiling
The excitement picks up a bit with some fun class IV rapids at the end of the run until the confluence with the Bruneau River.
The Bruneau River felt huge at 2700 cfs after coming off Sheep Creek at around 1,000 cfs. We were all excited to get a nice combination of low volume creeking and big water fun!
We set up our second camp about 6 miles above Five Mile Rapids on the Bruneau, excited for the three and a half mile stretch of continuous class IV fun we would get to paddle in the morning.
Before we could get there, however, we were attacked from the sky! An eagle and a couple of kestrels were having it out over a snake when they sent a couple of large rocks over the edge of the canyon. Both landed very close to Nick. Yikes! Already scared, we all looked around trying to figure out what was going on, only to see a snake falling through the sky heading straight for Laura!! She sped off, leaving it to fall in the water. Moments later it resurfaced and found it's way to shore. Who needs whitewater for excitement?!?
Exiting Bruneau Canyon
Five Mile Rapids were big and fun, leaving huge smiles on all of our faces. What an awesome trip!! Now I, like Chris, will be watching levels like a hawk anxiously awaiting my next trip down Sheep Creek.
Farewell Sheep Creek and Bruneau!!
Back to the Gorge
Thanks to Chris Dawkins, Laura Sol, Michael Williams, Willie Illingworth, Nick Jacob, and Tom Butler for a great trip!!