run, the North Fork of Cottonwood Creek deserves more attention than it
receives. Unfriendly land owners coupled with a less than enticing write-up
Ca Creeks have both helped to keep kayakers away.
Bollock had run the NF
Wood at low flows earlier in the
winter and was intent on returning. Low snow levels in the Mt Shasta
region motivated us to head south into blissfully sunny weather and the
promise of water on the North Fork.
Bollock and Paul Gamache checking
flows near the small town of
The Dreamflows North Fork Estimate showed about 350cfs, a very close
estimate to what we guessed the flows at take-out were. Good flows and
infamous land owners got us motivated for a quick shuttle, leaving one
car at the grange building in Platina.
up for the North Fork
Cottonwood during a sunny but brisk day.
This creek is small at the beginning; rivaling Patterson
it’s tiny but negotiable riverbed, although Patterson pulls
away on the quality scale. We enjoyed pleasant scenery paddling through
a quick mile of warm up into the first mini gorge that was full of fun
Gamache in one if the many mini
section pictured above went into a
small ledge drop. Shon probed
following my hand signals and got a small surf in the hole but deftly
worked his way out.
Paul followed next cleaning the hole with more momentum and some left
This is the ledge referred to on Ca Creeks as a
waterfall” and I’d estimate the drop around
4-6’ high and it was a little retentive on my run too.
low volume III-IV rapids continued for a while, interspersed
with a crack drop that Paul and I portaged but Shon ran. Shon mentioned
how much he liked crack drops while Paul and I lamented our dislike. We
wondered how well we would like the rest of this run as Shon had
recommended it to us…
Two harder class IV drops after the optional
us standing at
the lip of one of the larger falls on the run. A five foot long narrow
crack led to a ten foot drop possibly landing on rock and making a hard
right turn. On the previous descent Shon had the first and only descent
of this ugly falls. We portaged what I would rate a IV+ portage over
some small cliffs on the right and used a little rope work at the end
to get our boats back down to river level. Jerusalem Creek comes in on
river right within one hundred yards of the recommended portage, and
doubles the flow.
A half mile or so of II-III led us to the top of
run is all
about. This fifteen to twenty foot waterfall is the cleanest waterfall
I have ever seen. The creek bed widens here and takes two routes over
the bedrock drop. The right is a bit of a crack into a sweet boof while
the left is a nice five foot roll to vertical. Sunlight peaked out
again as we agreed that Paul and Shon should try to run it at the same
time, but unfortunately their timing was off.
runs the right side boofing line.
Paul runs the left perfectly clean line.
We ran lots and lots of boogie water after the
after a few
miles arriving at the mandatory portage. Please excuse the angle on
this shot, spotty lighting made it difficult to get a shot here, but it
shows the nasty cave this waterfall drops into.
We made quick work of the portage down the right, seal launching off a
ten foot ledge. Then we paddled and paddled miles of mundane II-III
with one fun class
IV mini gorge to spice things up, and several miles more of II-III. The
paddle out was quite tedious with the riverbed changing into slate that
created many hidden ridges and shelves to scrap over and get stuck on.
At takeout we hustled up and out of the bridge area successfully
avoiding the grouchy land owner, glad to avoid the confrontation and be
off the water. All in all we made two portages as a team, although only
one is mandatory and hasn’t been run. We had flows of 300-400
cfs and agreed that for kayaks it was the bare minimum for this run and
we would all like to see it with more water, up to 800cfs.