Exploring the Upper NFMF

By Dave Mcneil

Wednesday, October 25th 2000.

I just finished scouting the Upper North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette today. I found four, 40+ foot, water falls and one twenty footer.
Three of them are runnable provided the landing has enough water. The middle three miles are 400+ ft/mile (probably closer to 600 ft/mile) of technical class V with the water fall section being easily 800ft/mile for a half mile, pool and drop.

The last three miles are class II/III boulder gardens running out in a swamp. I couldn't scout the swamp for obvious reasons but I could hear the river flowing in the back ground. In short it's a boaters paradise. This is where the big dogs go to play. HA HA.

Did I mention that logs were flung about like pick-up-sticks, both second and old growth. I took the liberty of naming some of the rapids: "One log, two logs, three logs, more logs", "How long can you hold your breath", "Two log drop", "Half Mile Portage", "Too many logs to count", "Tinker Toys", "Lincoln Logs", "LOG!", "Limbo and Die", you get the picture.

This would be the premiere run in Oregon if it weren't for all of the wood. Too much wood and the portages around the falls were almost impossible with a boat. You had a hard time on separation creek wait till you see the NF. One of the portages in the middle was easily a half mile long.

I didnt get all the way to Waldo Lake. I turned back about seven miles up from the take out as I had seen enough. Besides, even with my light pack I could go no faster than 1.5 miles/hour. The sides of the canyon are really steep and wooded.

I saw a huge cougar (it was 40-50 yards away crossing a creek). There were cougar tracks all over the place around the marsh.

If anybody decides to try this run it'll take at least two days. For the record the water level was almost perfect- 255 cfs according to the net. Perhaps 300-400 cfs would be ideal. The canyon is so steep and narrow you don't need much water- any more and it would be too pushy. REMEMBER the WOOD.

-Dave,   October 25th 2000.