James's Submission - Entered on 3/19/2012 11:33:00 AM
Notes: No attempt made at naming ledges just trying to describe them.
Gauge Information (Last updated with USGS at 5/17/2013 9:17:09 AM)
MASHEL RIVER NEAR LA GRANDE,
3rd Party Gauge
||05/17 08:45 PDT
Minimum Recomended Level: 800 cfs Maximum Recomended Level: 1300 cfs
Accessed through a network or Off Road Vehicle trails, two 4wd rigs are advised if snow is convering the roads (like in March 2012). There may be multiple routes from the ORV parking zone bushwhacking through secondary timber land. Snow is a plus because you can sled your boat downhill. There are some random roads you could pop out onto to avoid Busy Wild Creek and have an easier but slightly longer trail. One recon reported a few log portages on Busy Wild that can be skipped following these roads.
Take the National Park Hwy east from Elbe towards the Naty Park. Two miles before Ashford, take a left on a road with signs for ORV recreation. Wind a few miles uphill on a dirt road. Bear left where the ORV parking lot is, and follow that road until it ends (another 2-3 miles) at a nob. Hike down towards Busy Wild Creek, an hour or so. A map would be helpful here. You should have a Discover Pass to park here, though it seems a pretty obscure place.
Take out at the Center St. bridge in Eatonville.
You might be on Hancock land some of the time. You also might get stuck behind a parade of Off Road Vehicles if you visit during a weekend.
It's good class IV if you don't mind an access jihad. It will feel like a taste of the OP right in your Seattle Backyard!
Run Description [Season: rainy]
There are some pretty gorges and clean, bedrock class IV drops. Wood wasn't bad in Feb, 2012 (expect 3 or more wood portages), but it could be, so those class IV skillz ought to be sharp. You'll be ducking and dodging wood all day, but all the clean rapids are runnable. The run consists of two major canyon sections separated by a mile or two of braided class II.
Put in on Busy Wild Creek, about a mile upstream of the Mashel confluence. These two are about the same size, and together they should be at least 400 cfs, which means at least 800 cfs on the Mashel gauge near Eatonville.
The run will start off with some smaller class III-IV rapids that weave through a tight OP feeling gorge. The gradient will slowly pick up as you arrive at the first major drop which consists of 3 ledges culminating in a rather sticky river wide hole.
After this first landmark there will be more continued clean class III and IV drops that keep you smiling all the way out of the first canyon which ends with a nice class IV+ ledge with a hole at the bottom.
A mile or two of flatwater will bring you to a river wide log ledge that might or might not be there and/or runnable so check it out.
A few river turns later you will find your self entering the second canyon and arriving at the crux of the run. Below this crux drop you will find one more significant ledge, and then couple more fun class IV ledges significantly easier.
After exiting from the second canyon you will wind through some flatter sections before arriving at a couple of very large House Sized Boulders. There was a large wood jam here in March 2012 that required a portage on river left. Just below this portage the river serves up it's final class IV delight with a fun boulder garden that ends with a couple holes and will leave you smilin.
Below this last boulder garden are countless more fun class III rapids and really quality class II that could be broken apart from the upper run to create a quality playground for beginner boaters.
The fun is almost over when you approach a railroad trestle. Again a big wood jam at the mouth of this mini gorge forced a portage in March 2012. Below the portage is a great little mini gorge to wrap up a wonderful trip.
Below this you will pass by several engineered log jam/islands that will shortly end with a quick riffle under the Center Street Bridge.