Wildboy Creek

1.8 miles, 180 fpm ( Including 30-foot Wildboy Falls ), pool-drop, class III-IV, V
Torture Factor: Low

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Pete Giordano, Jesse Coombs and I were paddling the NorthWest fork of the Washougal a few weeks back, when we noticed a tributary coming in upstream of the fish hatchery. We all commented on how it seemed large enough to run, and ( most interesting of all ) it was bedrock for as far as the eye could see.

Pete got all over it, and had hatched a cunning plan by the next time we spoke.. "It's called Wildboy Creek." He said. "Comes out of a lake about two miles upstream. Might have to hike a mile or so on a gated road to get to it.."

"Let's do it.. next big rain." I said.

We figured we would need high water on the Washougal to run this one, because it comes out of a lake, and it seemed so wide at the confluence. Luckily for us, the weather cooperated, and everything started flooding a week or so later.

Unfortunately, my car was in the shop and we couldn't trick anyone into coming with us, so we were doomed to the bike shuttle. We left my bike at the hatchery and started driving up, up, up into the Wildboy drainage. It was still pouring, and the roads were a little muddy in places.

Looking down into the Wildboy Creek drainage, towards the end of the shuttle.

We arrived at the gated road leading down to Wildboy Lake and started hiking in the downpour. The hike went fairly quickly, and we soon found ourselves at the lake, which was very scenic.

Even more impressive was the monster horizon line just downstream of the tiny dam marking the outflow from the lake. We scouted and discovered a big falls ( estimated at 30 feet ) and another big horizon line, visible just downstream. At this point we were both grinning ear-to-ear at what was shaping up to be one sweet creek!

Pete (gray shirt, creek-right ) scouts 30-foot Wildboy Falls, the 'warm-up' drop on Wildboy Creek if you are feeling so inclined.
( Nate and Heather Herbeck from Liquid Kayak both ran this falls after I posted this report, so it is definitely good to go.. )
Neither of us ran this falls, though it looked squeaky-clean.

Just downstream of Wildboy Falls was another big horizon line, which turned out to be a big, twisty flume-drop. Pete fired this one off first without troubles, in a demo Jefe which he had never paddled before..

Pete Giordano probes the flume drop just downstream of Wildboy Falls..

Downstream of the flume drop was another slide, but this one was a bit marginal due to a log in the pool below. We both walked this one.

Downstream of this slide the wood started piling up a bit. Luckily the creek is wide enough that you can find routes through most of it, but I think we had to portage 4-5 logs/jams on this run.

A big disappointment came just downstream when the first cabled logs appeared. At first I was really frustrated by this, but then I did some research and found out why they put them in the streambed:

WILDBOY CREEK LOGJAM PROJECT ( 2004 ) from this site

"The project site is owned by Longview Fiber Corporation and is managed as a tree farm. The project site is located downstream of a dam constructed in the 1940ís to store water for fire suppression after the area was burned over during the early 1900ís. The stream channel has since lost its gravel source due to the dam and has become incised to bedrock. In 2001, Longview Fiber felled multiple trees across the channel to try to capture gravel but these huge logs were turned lengthwise with the channel by high water events and became ineffective.

WDFW and LCFEG staff walked the site in 2003 to determine if it was feasible to re-position and anchor these logs across the channel to capture gravel entering the stream from tributaries so steelhead and cutthroat spawning and rearing could take place. The resulting project used a 50 CFM air compressor imported from Germany and a 35 pound rock drill to drill holes in the bedrock stream bottom to place over 200 anchor bolts."

The GOOD news is that there are no logs in any of the major rapids, so you only have to deal with them on the easier in-between stuff..

That said, be forewarned: There are a fair number of cabled logs to watch out for, the majority of which can be dodged, ducked, or snuck.. That said, be careful before you commit to any blind corners on this one.

Pete Giordano runs a typical drop on Wildboy Creek.
This creek is 1.8 miles of pure bedrock fun. There are no boulders! ( note the cabled logs just downstream.. )

As we approached the confluence with the NWF Washougal, the logs all but disappeared and the creek roared through a long series of boat-scoutable small-but-oh-so-sweet ledges, slides, and wave trains. This section was just excellent!

Soon we arrived at another big horizon line, and we got out to scout on the left. This ledge ( which we dubbed 'The Accelerator' ) looked a little like 'Sacraledge' on the Little White, except it was a little bigger, and has less of a boof.

Pete probed this one, ripping down the left side and plugging the hole nicely.. Sweet!

Pete Giordano probes The Accelerator, the final falls before the confluence with the Northwest fork of the Washougal

Just downstream of the Accelerator is the confluence with the Northwest Fork, which was smokin'. A short, sweet ride later ( lots of surf waves at this flow ) and we arrived at the fish hatchery take-out.

Be Forewarned: When you get to the take out at the hatchery, watch out for the duck.

Yes, the duck.

Did I mention there is a Killer Duck lurking at the hatchery? Well, there is.

We got to the hatchery and were changing. We were still on a high after the creek, and hardly noticed as a duck waddled up and looked at us.

"Hey look, a duck.." I said. Little did we know, this wasn't just any duck! This was ten pounds of kayaker-whuppin, bill-snapping, webbed-foot-fu kickin', KILLER duck!

I was fiddling with my camera when I heard a whooshing sound and Pete started yelling; the duck had suddenly flown up at Pete's face!

"Holy Crap!" I said. "Whadya do to the duck?!?"

"NOTHING!" Pete said, "It just lunged at me!"

Pete left to run the shuttle, and I spent the next half hour evading the duck. It would follow me around the lot, and when I stopped, it would hunker down, lower it's head, and launch itself through the air at my head!

I found myself talking to the duck, trying to be reasonable about the whole thing. "Look." I said.. "I'm a lot bigger than you. Not all humans are as nice as me. Maybe you shouldn't be doing this.." Then I thought: You're talking to a duck, dude.. WTF?!?

"Silly human, Give Me your Food, or I'll Kill you.."
The Killer Duck stalks an unsuspecting Pete at the take out.

After the fourth or fifth near miss, I put my helmet back on and started taking pictures. In case I didn't survive, I didn't want the duck to get away with it..

It was weird, we didn't do anything to this duck. I gave it part of a Clif Bar, but that just seemed to increase it's rage..

The Killer Duck launches itself at the author..

Drive up to the road leading down to Wildboy lake and start hiking. It is downhill the whole way, about 1.7 miles. When you get to the bottom and see the buildings it can get a little confusing ( the road forks and paths appear everywhere ) but if you bear right you will see the lake in about 100 yards.

You need a large rain event for this creek to run. I would say 5,000 cfs in the Washougal internet gauge is the minimum flow. We had about 5,500-6,000 and rising (see blue bar, below), and even this much water was a little scrapy at the beginning until a couple of tribs came in downstream. More water would be just fine in this one.

There is probably not much of a correlation, but I always throw up the EF Lewis gauge because that is the one most people are familiar with in the area ( and the gauge least likely to randomly disappear due to budget cuts.. )

We were on the creek where the blue line indicates. More water would be just fine.