Monday, March 3, 2008

Panther Creek into the Lower Wind, WA: IV-V

In its last mile before it meets the Wind River, Panther Creek is a steep boulder garden that has some serious gradient. It's compared to Gettin' Busy on the Little White and to a cleaner Trout Creek. The level was between 21-24" on the stick gauge which seemed like an optimal flow - some pretty chunky holes, but still plenty of eddies. Mostly boat scoutable with the exception of 2 or 3 rapids. Eddy hoppin', boulder garden steepness - it was really fun. Eli Loper and I put on just in time to catch up with Ryan Cole, Chris Arnold, Garry Truyens, and Eric Arlington - a good crew!!

Scouting the entrance to one of the steepest sections. Avoid small F-U logs, rockslide the tight slot of your choice, punch the big hole, repeat.

The second part of this section.

Chris catching his breath after some steepness.

Ryan boogying and enjoying the amazing scenery. Moss-covered trees, rocks, and mini-gorges characterize this section.

Garry enjoying some more good clean boulder bed.

Ryan snarling and looking hard with a bloody face. It's not all fun and games here!

Gary and Eli polish off some steepness before Panther meets the Wind.

Once we hit the confluence and got onto the Lower Wind there was some serious volume. None of us had ever seen the Lower Wind with this much flow before. The flume became a big water rapid with some huge breaking wave-holes. Beyond Limits was awesome - ride the tongue into a huge thrasher, then hold on for the next big one. Eli and I were the only ones who ran it and we both cleaned it. Shipherd's Falls looked insane.

Chris probes the Flume.

Beyond Limits with a fish ladder "sneak" on the left.

The entrance to the fish ladder was sketchy at best.

Eli probes Beyond Limits, rated V+ in the guidebook. Kind of like a juicy BZ Falls.

Keeping it together through the last hole.

The first falls at Shipherds is unrecognizable compared to summer flows.

The second falls is super burly at this flow.

If you survive this set of drops there is still a lowhead dam to contend with.

Garry probing the mandatory cliff jump on the portage.

Eric was happy that hotsprings were waiting just downstream of this swim.

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