5 great matsu IK runs
All of the runs posted where based on quality of whitewater, stream character, scenery, adventure factor etc.
Sheep Creek- If you haven t done it and don't mind a struggle to get to the creek, do yourself a favor and go. The whitewater is sooo fun the scenery is world class and if you like bears you can see them there. See my other write up.
Little su- (Baby Su)The first part is a class ll/lll run from the bridge in hatchers pass to edgerton parks bridge. This takes about 25 minutes and will require good boat handling skills to get you around rocks and boulders and some decent size holes at higher levels 800 cfs or higher.The biggest rapid is right below the bridge watch the hole at the bottom left its powerful above 800 cfs it has actually pulled me back upstream and ate me. The only tight spot is the third rapid where you will see a squeeze in the river between large boulders(don't wrap your boat)
Little Su- (Mother load to take out below bridge) Class 4/5 read Embicks and Tim's guides then scout a couple of times before you actually take your boat, be sure your'e confident and not doing this by being pressured by others. This is an amazing run, we ran the river at 500 cfs the first time with no portages. This was easier than i thought it was going to be. Ik's can really take the scare out of rocky streams they go over almost anything that has water running over it/ meaning I don't have to steer quite as much. The river is just good fun for the upper half, then it gets very steep and serious and is super fun with a bit of survival mode attached. This kind of river requires pads to protect the exposed legs of a swimming Ik boater when remounting his boat and high flotation is a must, if you like your head above whitewater if you don't have your boat.
The hardest drops to run at these levels are death ferry and the bridge rapid. Death ferry has a must make river right to river left ferry angle or a more risky blast over the top rocks then hope to remain online for a bottom slot through the rest of the rocks.
The bridge rapid leaves you with boofs off the top of the rapid boulders to a line below, or move your IK around a rock or two then jump in and go.
All in all it was so fun but this WILL BE A BEAT DOWN if you have not practiced on other swift steep streams. There are some big drops that you can't see and some drops contain hazards such as under cuts.
(Warning) take out at the parking lot where a stream crosses the road about half way up if you are having any trouble at all or get your butt scraped right off your body. I can see foot entrapment's, broken bones as real possibilities to an Ik'er on this river don't plant your feet when remounting your boat in this river. A boater should be able to run the guard rail with ease before attempting this run.
Guard Rail- Willow creek Class lll/lV 12 drops in 2.5 miles = one of the best IK trips in the state. (in my puny world anyway). Most rapids are class lll to lll+ with a couple of lV-. One guide book rates the first and the last rapids as the significant rapids, the other speaks of the cable rapid and the last one. After a dozen or so trips I will put it this way, do not use the last rapid/ five fingers as a measuring stick to assume whats upstream use the first rapid/ warm up to measure whats downstream instead. Every rapid has more than one line, but a few have limited sneak routes, most can be portaged or eddy hoped.
Warm up rapid has two great lines, one is river left going right of the giant rock at the top avoiding the three rocks below the ledge drop or get pinned. The other line is river right running slots off the ledge drops all the way down the right side, remember too line up and face your bow slightly left for the bottom ledge drop or pay up and remount. The next two drops have several fun routes, try as many as you can. The cable drop has a big hole river left half way down, ride the tongue river right then ferry to middle using the bottom of the hole to help hold you up for a sec., line up then you will find a fun drop with a great wave train at the bottom. The next drop has a big boulder in the center run the tongue river right of the boulder directly beside it then work you way river left and then back to the right down below the house on the bluff. The next drop has a strainer river right where the river turns left stay river left and blast through the rocks. The next drop after the pool has a three foot ledge drop, man up and boof off the center with speed or take the chicken route river right on the tongue. After this about 200 yards downstream there is a monster boulder on river right, at strong flows 800cfs and higher there is a powerful hole/ breaking wave that is hidden run left or punch with speed, it will suck you back into it if your paddling is wimpy. The next rapid of note has been called yellow brick road, avoid the wall river right, or swim. Past the wall you will see the water pillow on a giant boulder river left ride the pillow for a spike in the fun meter. The next rapid and last one is 5 fingers, just close your eyes and choose a route. Then you will find yourself at the Redgate put in class ll/lll-. On this run try running between the boulders behind the big boulder that blocks your line of sight for wave train rapid( great skill builder) then splah your way to three knuckle and surf the play wave. The Redgate has numerous eddies to practice catching and exiting.
Kings River- lower canyon below magic mile. Class lll-lV(V-)This starts with a 10 mile 4 wheeler ride to a large gravel creek bed that crosses the trail hike down for 20 minutes to the river. The river starts as class ll and slowly builds, when you start seeing bluffs watch out for larger drops in the class lV- range at medium flows and above, to class lll + at lower flows. The river does constrict and there are canyon walls coming down to the river in some places with blind corners. DO NOT run and gun this canyon as you will probably find some wood conveniently placed in the rapid before you. There are some really fun ledge drops in this canyon and great slide drops. About halfway though the canyon you will see a constriction that is the beginning of a long constricted drop(V-) that has tongues smashing into the walls, and at medium to high water has two very powerful holes at the bottom one river left the other river right directly belowthe top hole. If you miss the tongues going through these holes in an IK, going into the bottom hole could result in a serious maytag. I have rafted this drop but elected to portage this time in my IK(The shame is still unbearable, i will be back) i was imagining my brains dripping off the walls. The portage is easy take out river left right above the drop put back in right under the drop you will see the spots they are your only choice. Flow means alot with this drop for safety in an IK in my opinion, there is no chance for assisted rescue until the bottom , your on your own. The river from here down even though theres still canyon left is no harder than class lll-/ ll+ all the way to the road.You can also put in and just run the river under the big drop if you know the trail about 4 miles back going off to the left.
This run has alot to offer the capable IK person,great drops, awsome scenery, adventure and has an element of mystery when scouting blind canyon corners or eddie hoping your way down.
Granite creek lower canyon- Class lll+/lV-
Take jonesville road park on left in large lot before coyote lake turn off. Take your wheeler on up the trail towards eska falls, not coyote lake. About a mile after you start climbing you will see trails going right take one and go towards the knob. You will find alot of giant mud holes to work around then a trail shoots left across a swamp to the knob and skirts the whole bottom of the hill before going up. Go up and take the trail that goes left towards the creek and continue untill you run out of trail park and start hiking.
You will find a semi-decent trail that is faintly flagged by our pack rafting friends (thank you). Follow the trail down and over the gully towards a white slide on the other side of the creek taking 2 hours or so( just drag your boat) it sucks a little. The creek is a beauty clear fast and steep with alot of fun drops. This creek is rather safe because it's small, but you will find a little wood here and there. The river goes through an awesome canyon but is never constricted. The hardest to run drop in my opinion( 3 runs) is towards the end of the canyon the river flushes into a pile of boulders river left which leaves you two choices and we have done both. Man up and boof off the rocks on the left or show how good your ferry angle is and stay right out of the boulders, using a hard ferry against the current. After the canyon the river is still steep, fast and fun all the way to the road. I found this stream to be really high on the fun meter.
Use the chickaloon section of the mat., Baby Su, Redgate, and finally Moose creek to prepare. One more trip to try Moose creek upper half at 250 cfs or above is way fun. I would recommend 150 or so first. This creek is really affected by flow as the water flow increases the rocks disappear and the hydraulics begin to form and there is not much let-up especially starting a mile below the put in. Take out where the pavement ends on buffalo mine road going down the road on the right to avoid the log infested more boring lower run.
Try these if you think your ready for the adventure. As always be safe have fun and get out of the house. Mark o.
BTW, All of this is only my boating friends and myself included sharing our perspective. Do your homework.