Sunday, December 10, 2006


I. Andrew Oberhardt's NF Quinault Report
II. "The Last Drop"
III. Photo Hold'em Update


I. tRL correspondent & Photo Hold'em First Round leuzer, Andi Oberhardt, took for-freakin-ever to file this trip report on the Olympic Peninsula's NF Quinault Gorge. But at least he managed to get it to my desk within the same year he did the trip:

Apparently the Range Life judges didn’t like my Photo Hold’em entry. I think they were just afraid I’d next post something incriminating of them ... For instance, this is the aftermath of Todd and Shane's exploding at the bottom of the big falls on Skookum Creek.

The very next weekend, while the Range Lifers were licking their Skookum wounds, we put together a substitute team for one of the NW’s premier splashy multiday adventures. The NF Quinault flows through an absurdly scenic box canyon in the old growth rain forest of Olympic National Park. Part of the mystique of this run is the fact that it requires a 10-mile hike and all you get is 3 miles of whitewater. (Ed. note: I'd like to reiterate: 10 miles of hiking for 3 miles of whitewater.) Despite this, a few dedicated boaters seem to come back every year. We had to find out why. So Effigy, Schertzl, and I represented Seattle alongside Bellinghamsters Ethan, Hale, and Tretwold. Ethan also brought along his lady and her occasionally naked friend for the hike.

The subs were called up from the farm club for this mission: Matt (aka "Effigy", "My Humps", "Daddylumps", etc.), Schertzl, & the author.

The first day we took our time and hiked to the bottom of the whitewater section. Our campsite was right on the riverbank, and consisted of a slot perhaps 10 feet wide between a cliff and a rock fin with a flat sandy bottom. It was definitely one of the more unique places I've ever camped.

The next morning, having cached all our heavy overnight gear, we hiked the remaining 3 miles with light loads. After putting-in, there is practically no warm up, as the first rapid leads right into the steepest and most technical section. That first canyon ends with the Glowing Wall, a tricky blind drop that gets its name from a dark polished overhanging wall that reflects white from the water. It’s quite a site.

A glimpse into the gorge at the Glowing Wall.

After that, the canyon was even more spectacular but the rapids were decent and even included a fun little waterfall. An increasing incidence of manky drops made us start to think it was a little low. This was confirmed after we picked up our cached gear and began the 6 mile "class 2 paddle out", which ended up being more like a shallow gravel-bar scrape fest. It was the kind of boating where boxing gloves would have been more useful than a paddle. As if that wasn’t enough, my boat developed an 8-inch crack and began to rapidly sink, requiring a dump every 100 feet or so. Eventually the crew rallied and performed emergency boat surgery with a camp stove, duct tape, and a screwdriver, but not before I freaked out and yelled at them for taking off when they knew I was sinking.

All tolled we were on the river for just under 8 hours, 4.5 of which was in the canyon. We were probably only in the upper canyon for 45 minutes to an hour. There is a *lot* of whitewater after glowing wall. It is definitely a high quality run; we’d like to try it next year with a bit more water. Perhaps by then, the Range Life proper crew will be sufficiently recovered and actually come kayaking with us.
(Photos: Andrew Oberhardt, Matt Thomas, Chris Tretwold, Hale Hanaway)


Got this from our friends across the border:
"The following short documentary was produced by Braden Fandrich, Chris Mennell, and Bread and Butter films as a pilot to raise funding for a planned full length Documentary planned for broadcast in late 07.

Documenting the first-descent of Vancouver Island's Memekay River, The Last Drop looks at the role kayaking plays in the
conservation of BC rivers. Although the kayakers in the film are met with a little adverse weather, they find the Memekay to be an untouched ecosystem with massive old growth trees and spectacular canyons and scenery. Presented to raise awareness of dam issues in BC, the Last Drop looks at the current state of hydro in BC, and contrasts the role of the Provincial Government in the implementation of those hydro projects with the Kayakers and their thoughts on stewardship of the rivers."

The pilot is a bit long, but well done. WATCH IT NOW.


III. Photo Hold'em Update

Briefly .. we're working on the next round(s). Several Round 3 winners have requested more time to submit, with the holidays & international travel & all. Additionally, I invited the losers from that round to submit images for a consolation bracket & a chance to work their way back into contention for the podium. We just gotta figure out the format. Give us a minute on this ..

More: I think what we'll do going forward with the comp is this. Once we have the submissions in from the folks who advanced out of the Sweet Sixteen, we'll run that round as a head-to-head, the Great Eight. Then, we'll invite EVERYONE who has been eliminated from the 4 rounds to submit one image to get back into the Semifinals. From that group, the judges (tRL) will pick TWO photogs to join the four who advanced out of the Great Eight, for a semi's round of six. From there, we'll narrow the field to three, & so on.


P.S. ... I'm back in the game! Got out on the water today for the first time since my shoulder surgery 10 wks ago. About a dozen of us Seattleites mobbed the Skykomish play run today. I approached the mission tentatively & with a lot of caution/anxiety .. paddled my creeker .. & did fine. Very stoked!

Here's to a happy holiday season to all of you!



Anonymous said...


From the Skookum Creek Party - I think it was Brock Gavery who, jumping on the train of Colby Mackley, Paul Heffernan and Jesse Bierman, ran the N.F. Quinalt the weekend after Skookum creek. Andy, Shertzel and Co., ran it TWO (2) weeks after Skookum. The trip report says "The very next weekend." That is wrong. Regardless, that was a sweet trip report, nice rip on Shane and Todd with photo exhibits of thier tears, and much better photos than that ameture LL Bean Catalog Photo you posted on round 1.

Andrew Oberhardt said...


You are correct. It took me so long to write this, that I forgot that other weekend even existed. I think I was doing something silly and ill-guided that weekend, like playboating at the skook. The other trip sounded like it was at a better flow, though only a weekend prior (our skookum weekend) they aborted due to high water. That run has a very short window.

Thanks for the compliment though... I think.


Andrew Oberhardt said...

Also, thanks to Paul and Brock for providing invaluable beta to our group. Paul is definately one of those "few dedicated boaters" I mentioned.

Anonymous said...

No worries Andrew. They were most likely still licking thier wounds two weeks after Skookum.

Todd Gillman said...

Clever, that one.
I'm still licking my Skookum wounds.

Anonymous said...

Guys this trip description is fantastic great and all, but I'm pretty sure I saw mention of a part time naked lady hiker...Was the pelicase w/ camera really that buried?!(%?

Todd Gillman said...

"Part time naked lady hiker?" Oooh, you mean Schertzl ..

Anonymous said...

Good grief Gillman. That was a good zinger. It was just danglin' there for ya. Now get back to twangin' yer tubing.

Props to E-bomb for bringin' the entertainment.


p.s. Ya ever clicked on the wheelchair in the anonymous category? Trippee!!!