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Middle Sauk @ 4000

Class: III+(IV)      GMap
2 - Whitechuck River to Clear Creek
Trip Date: 12/11/2006
Written on: 12/11/2006
Written by:

Some information from the Sauk trip on 12/10.  Kyle was leading the trip with Adrian running sweep and Jeff, Deborah (my wife) and myself as the relative newbies trying to make our way down.

The trip was really fun.  I can't comment so much on changes to the river since it was the first time I ran it but I can provide some Beta on the river.  Hopefully others - especially Kyle - can elaborate on some of the differences in the river before and after.
First rapid after the put-in had a small amount of wood in it on the left side of the channel that was easily avoided (run center left then move right after the big rock).  The rapid "half dozen of the other" - I believe the last class 3 rapid before Jaws if I'm not mistaken - had a huge log spanning the river.  It looked like there was a route around it on river right but we were already parked on river left (and there were nice rapids just below on river left) so we simply chose to portage.  Jaws and Demon Seed were pretty straightforward at 4000 cfs - especially with Kyle leading and us newbies merely trying to follow and avoid any holes.  Jaws was not large at 4000 cfs and there was no wood behind Demon Seed. 
We scouted Whirlpool and Popeye from the road before the run but unfortunately, for Deborah, she didn't remember how bad Whirlpool looked at the bottom on river right.  She flipped there (say only 10 feet or so from the bottom of the rapid) and hit her chin pretty bad.  It looks like someone used her chin as a punching bag and as her spouse, I'm glad we had law enforcement personnel in the group that can vouch for my innocence :-)  She's doing better today but was a little shaken when the incident took place - face masks are in our near future.  And, I think Deborah will have some swelling there for a week or two.
The rest of the run was straightforward except for Popeye.  There were three channels for Popeye.  River left had a root ball and significant water heading towards it.  We didn't want to go that way.  From the road, river right looked pretty bony terrible so we chose the center channel.  This channel was, in fact, fine and easy.  When we were actually on the water (at the bottom of the rapid), the river right channel looked *EVEN WORSE* than from the road.  Very, very rocky.

In general, to me, 4000 felt like a pretty low level on this river.  There were lots of rocks that needed to be avoided - certainly on Whirlpool but in general.  The rapid "six of one" looked quite rocky when we scouted it but the actual run through that rapid was pretty clean at 4000 cfs.  I realize that the river will feel pushier and the holes will be larger at higher levels but for my next trip down, I'd like to try it with a little more water.
Now then, take all of this with a grain of salt from a relative newbie.  Kudos to Kyle for doing a great job of leading and Adrian for a great job of sweeping.

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