Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Wild Chetco Adventure

Three local long-time wild river runners made a unique journey on the Chetco this July. Tim Palmer, Ann Vileisis and Alan Wilson spent two days going upstream from the Tolman Ranch put-in. Their goal? To see for themselves the two mile segment of the Wild and Scenic River that would be reclassified—from Scenic to Wild—under the Chetco River Protect Act.  The upgrade in river classification of the reach between Boulder and Mislatnah Creek was recommended by the Siskiyou National Forest in the 1993 Chetco Wild and Scenic River Management Plan.

The Scenic River Area of the Chetco downstream from the Tolman Ranch put-in.  This is in the area of the Gold #7 mining claim.  Ann Vileisis Photo

Their downstream float continued past their put-in to what's known as the Steel Bridge. While designated as Scenic, and not recommended by the agency to be re-classified, it also meets the criteria of a Wild River Area.

The three brought back photos and video clips of both these beautiful river reaches to share with the rest of us.

The Scenic River Area of the Chetco Between Boulder and Mislatnah Creek that would be designated a Wild River Area under the Chetco River Protection Act.  This is the reach where the Gold #8 mining claim is located. Ann Vileisis photo.

Here's excerpts from a post about their wild river adventure:
“Our low-water, mini expedition began with a couple of days heading upstream. We paddled through brilliant clear pools and dragged our inflatable kayaks up bony rapids to check out a wild reach at the wilderness edge. Then we floated back downstream through a forest-clad canyon, following the small river through a relentless series of maze-like drops with massive boulders. The low water and inflatable kayaks made the usually challenging whitewater fun and not-too-hard.
“As a river lover, I’ve paddled my fair share of Wild and Scenic Rivers, but the Chetco is unique. It has a small canyon and gin-clear water— some of the clearest that I’ve ever seen. In deep pools, we could see down 40 feet to cobbles at the bottom, and in some places it looked like our boats were floating on sky. The water was alive as it should be— filled with newts, crayfish, caddisflies, and thousands of little fishes.
“Next winter when the hard rains come and the waters rise, I’ll know where the salmon and steelhead are heading. I’ll remember the river magic and know deeply— in every water molecule of my body— that the Wild and Scenic Chetco deserves defending.
Read the full post at the American Rivers blog. We'll post more photos and video soon.