The Waterfall run on the East Fork of the Lewis

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The Middle run on the East Fork of the Lewis is an excellent run for waterfall enthusiasts who like big, easy falls. It should be noted that there have been access problems in the past, especially around Horseshoe Falls. Keep the noise down when you are around the falls, and respect the property owners privacy. I spoke to the owner on one recent trip and he is pretty friendly towards boaters, so lets try and keep it that way.

In recent years some paddlers have started hiking up Copper Creek from the EF Lewis to run the Final Five gorge. This has led to conflicts with the landowner and caused problems for those who run legitimately run Copper Creek from top-to-bottom. Please do not hike up Copper Creek from the East Fork! If this trend continues we could eventually have major access problems on that creek.

Now, back to the East Fork, and let the fun begin!

First of all, be sure to put in about a mile and a half above Sunset Falls at the campsite. Just downstream is a great ender spot- anyone can get up and over here! Below the ender spot are a few small rapids which lead to Sunset Falls. At flows of a thousand or above locals run Sunset off of the prow in the middle of the river, but at lower flows the far left is best.

If you choose the far left side at flows over a thousand cfs, get lots of speed and angle left: there is a hole that forms at the lip of the falls that tends to slow boaters down and cause them to drop into the maul below with no momentum. The boils and hydraulics of the left side falls are deceptively retentive at all flows; if you swim over there and get pushed towards the middle of the river between the two pour-overs, plan on staying there for awhile.

Jon Fowlkes runs Sunset Falls at medium flows ( 2,500 cfs on the EF Lewis at Heisson gauge ).
At lower water only the far left side is runnable.

Mike Haley runs Sunset at low flows ( 700 cfs on the EF Lewis at Heisson gauge ).
At low flows only this far left side is runnable.

Below Sunset are a few fun boulder gardens which provide a nice warmup for the gorge. The first is 'Hippie John's Boulder Drop' named by a local paddler when he came down and found an guy meditating on one of the boulders in the river. There is also a drop called 'Sky Pilot' which has a hole which usually gives paddlers nice unintendos.

A few miles below Sunset Falls the river enters a short gorge. As soon as you see the walls start to close in get out and scout 'Screaming Left' on the river left side. This innocuous looking class three drop has an ugly-looking low-water slot on the river right side, which is much more benign than it looks ( I once saw someone go through the right slot at Screaming Left backwards and upside down, and they rolled up downstream, no worries ).

Andy runs Screaming Left at medium flows ( 2,500 cfs on the EF Lewis at Heisson gauge ).
At this level the undercut on the river-right side is filled in. Dragons' Back is the next horizon line downstream.

One short pool below Screaming Left is Dragons Back, a fun twisting drop into a hole that gets meaner the farther left you go- at medium high flows this hole kicks back upstream pretty hard, so some momentum is helpful here. The runout from Dragons Back ends abruptly in an old growth log that blocks part of the flow on the right side.

Mike Bell charges through Dragons Back at low water ( 700 cfs on the EF Lewis at Heisson gauge ).

Below Dragons Back is a hundred yard pool to the next horizon line, Johns Swimming hole. This one is a no brainer, but at higher flows you may want to walk it on the right. Once through Johns boaters are out of the gorge and can relax in the many small rapids above Horseshoe Falls.

Depending on the line you choose, Horseshoe ranges from easy to downright terrifying. This dome shaped falls drops a total of about twenty-two feet in a variety of ways. There are a series of 'doors' from right to left to enter the falls. Starting on far river-right, there is Door number one, called 'suicide' by the Bennett guide. The Suicide line is strong class five or harder, but Jesse Coombs did run it successfully one time after we did Copper Creek.

At flows over a thousand the middle doors are best, leading to a class three auto-boof move off the middle dome falls. Ever since I broke my back running Spirit I can't do the auto-boof, so I run the chunky slot on the far river-left side. If you choose this side wear elbow pads because it is a full-contact boating experience all the way down!

Pete Giordano runs Horseshoe Falls in one of the hottest creekboats of its time: The Perception Corsica!
Man, those were the good ol' days!