TRF Story

We were standing around the cars in a parking lot in Estacada. "I think there will be enough water if it keeps raining." I said looking up into the rain with hope. "The gauge was pretty low this morning, though"

"What are the other options?" Kristin asked.

"Something here on the Clackamas, I guess." I said with little enthusiasm (I had just spent a long summer rafting the Clackamas about 70 times). "But I'd like to do the Table Rock Fork. I think we can probably scrape our way down." ...

As we scouted from the road, the river looked doable so we suited up and scouted a few times on the way upstream. Our group consisted of myself, Kristin Brown, Kim Bates, John and Chris.

My friend Marc and I had scouted and run this stretch last spring. This would be my second trip down but nobody else had run it before. The run is primarily technical Class 3 with one or two Class 3+-4 sections. After running the first rapid below the put-in, I realized that the river was lower than my previous trip. This would mean there was going to be considerable rock-dodging.

"This is the first steeper section so heads up." I said as we approached a couple small boulder drops spaced close together.

Everyone was doing well until John got his paddle wedged between two rocks while bracing.

He was able to stay upright but snapped the blade off of his paddle. After corralling him and his paddle blade in an eddy, we considered our options. We were only a half mile from the put-in so it would be easy to hike out. This seemed like a shame, though. Maybe we could fix the paddle.

"Be careful with the knife!" Chris yelled as the knife slipped off the paddle and almost sliced into his brother's arm. "Those Sypderco knives are incredible sharp."

"Here, let me try." I said.

We were trying to cut some plastic off the paddle shaft so we could wedge and tape the blade back on.

"Shit!" I mumbled as the knife slipped off the shaft and through the palm of my hand.

"Maybe the neoprene glove protected your palm." Kristin said.

"Nope" I said as I looked at the deep cut in my hand.

"Maybe we should just hike out?" Kim suggested.

"I think it will be alright with a bandage and a lot of tape." I said optimistically.

After finally wedging the paddle blade back on to paddle shaft and taping my hand, we continued downstream. The river continued through many small boulder gardens and we eddy-hopped downriver. Although there was plenty of rock-bashing, most of the bigger rapids had enough water. Finally, our temporary paddle fix gave in to the constant battering by the rocks. John would have to hike out on the road.

Reaching the biggest rapid on this stretch, the entrance looked do-able but really bony.

It would also be difficult to hit the main drop with any kind of speed. We all decided not to push our river karma anymore today and walked the first half. There is a nice seal-launch half-way down the rapid, a short distance upriver from the pool before the next drop.

"What's around the corner?" everyone asked when we were in the pool.

"The right side is pretty clear. Just run it with a little momentum." I said as I ran around the right side of a large rock and dropped out of sight.

Everyone had a "big eyes" moment as they came around the rock and saw a steep slide down into what looked like a big hole. Thankfully, the hole is very forgiving and everyone came through with a big smile.

After the big drop, the river continued to churn through mile after mile of boulder gardens. At least it would have been churning if the river wasn't so low! It seemed like we were losing water as we got further downstream. After a couple more miles of rock bashing, everyone was ready to be done for the day.

"I think it is only a little farther." I said for the 4th time in an hour.

As we neared the takeout there is one more Class 3+ rapid and I led the way without stopping; really just wanting to get off the river. As I looked back upstream from the bottom of the rapid I counted boats as they were coming down. Funny, no Kristin. As it turns out, Kristin flipped coming over a boulder and didn't have enough time to roll before her boat came to a stop wedged between two rocks. She wisely decided to get out of her boat. After recovering Kristen's boat, we were really ready to get off the river and luckily the take-out was only about a 1/2 mile away.