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Mill Creek, Upper IV-V



We'd pushed through thirty miles on lower Mill Creek, returning to the put-in at 11pm for a buggy nights sleep, Jon and I decided to attempt running the 17 mile two day stretch of upper Mill Creek in the morning. Mostly because the horrible shuttle on the dirt road; we were already at the take out for upper Mill. The drive to the put-in went by pretty fast, and we found flows to be low but substantial enough to float.

Upper Mill Creek starts off just outside the town of Mill Creek and is up in the forest, quite different from the high desert of the previous day. The first four or five miles flew by with one two log portages and lots of class II/III gravel bar/boulder garden action,. Many logs were ducked and I managed to drop my paddle several times in the process, but we made good downstream progress.

Suddenly the pace picked up from II/III into consistent IV-V, eventually into consistent V, much larger than lower Mill. We were able to boat scout most everything, and ducked a lot of logs and ran lines close to a lot of sketchy logs. It's no surprise that this run is still full of wood as reported in Holbeck & Stanley, but at 450cfs most of it is avoidable. We portaged once for a rapid, a long boulder garden that dropped about 30' overall and ended with a huge undercut rock in the middle and a hole that fed under it. If the rock wasn't there, there would be an awesome 12' waterfall on the river right side, but the shallow landing of the waterfall went directly under the rock.

Here is the entrance of the rapid.


   This is the large rock in the middle, quite undercut, and the hole on river left of it was much larger than appears in the picture. The slide on river right landed moving straight into the rock creating the pillow on it.

What a shame.


We ended up with a 15' seal launch from the portage on river right, only to find if you follow the cliff down another 10 yards it drops down to river level, although it doesn't appear that it drops from on top. After the portage many boat scout able Vs continue for miles, with us eventually scouting a 8' ledge on river right that had a two tiered boof on the center.

Jon runs the boof, I took the falls.


   The river mellowed back down to class IV with Vs thrown in for several miles. Jon and I were hoping to see Black Rock Mountain soon, but it eluded us for many miles. We were able to run the portage listed in Holbek & Stanley, as the terminal hole was not at all terminal at low flows. The final hole in the last set of ledge drops near black rock mountain, just yards above the take-out.

Two days and 47 miles, it all blurs together, other than upper Mill is much harder and has a lot of wood. If you don't mind dodging logs (ten or so in 17 miles, I portaged two, Jon portaged one) give this run a go.

Black Rock Mountain, the put-in for Lower Mill and takeout for Upper Mill
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