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Ice Breaker "Season Opener"

Saturday Feb 25, 2017
Kayak: Ryan M, Dave P, Will S
Organizer: Ryan M
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium high
Gauge (cfs): 1800
Author: Ryan McCall

The snow is 4 feet deep and we should all be earning backcountry lines in the Mountains...  But then everything goes soggy and rivers start popping ice and at 70 degrees, you know that the rivers are just going to be fun.  What do you do....?  Get in a boat on a good warm up river and get after it. 


Dave Called and said he was ready to get in his boat to start the season properly.  However there was the caveat that he didn't want to do anything hard or serious because he hadn't creeked in close to 4 years.  I suggested Stony Brook but there was too many ice bridges.  So we aimed at a run we drive by regularly to get to other runs.  Cox brook has a nice collection of ledges and rapids and seems we always say so but are headed elsewhere.  So we centered on Cox and picked up Will Seegers while we were at it. 


Cox is one of the lower tributaries in the Dog River Drainage and for a good put in we thought just below the confluence with Devils Washbowl would make sense.  On the scout to the put in, we noticed that there were a few cows and a Bull at the farm midway through the run, but the Bull was tied up out front.  We also made sure to get an eye on the bridge that is usually slung across the brook at this farm.  It had been pulled for spring high water events.  All clear other than the barbed wire we couldn't confirm was up or down...


At the put in we all slid in to the brook off of 3-4' high snow banks.  The river was clear and flowing at a nice pace but not pushy (This would change by the end of the run).  The ledges drops in the upper section of this run are clean and straight forward.  You could usually drift up to the edge and then pick a line.  We came across one river wide strainer that requred a portage, but overall the brook was clean and fun up high and a good class II/III micro creek.


The last of the upper drops was slightly larger but dropped into the flatwater section that spanned the farm.  We could see pretty far down stream that it was clear of barbed wire and as early observed the bridge was pulled for spring flows.  As we were drifting through this section we all noticed a heard of cattle up next to the barn, but were chatting and enjoying the float.  At some point Dave stated that the cows were showing interest in us floating through their pasture and leading the charge was a very LARGE bull (ring in nose and snot flying) has he was trotting toward us.  Dave  stated "That bull is VERY interested in us" and we started to really paddle away with some urgency.  Dave then stated that I had better get a move on (even though I was in front) because I was in a red helmet, PFD and drysuit.  I started to really churn away from the Bull and Dave and Will, knowing that at any moment if that Bull was really interested in taking me down, his 1000 lbs frame would plow through the little creek with out a problem and he would have me stomped and gored in a second.  Luckily, I think the bull was young and was not interested in trifling with the creek.  He relented and we were floating away safely laughing nervously at each other.  It couldn't have been more than 2 seconds later and Dave screamed "Barbed Wire".  I didn't even have a moment to think, it was at my back and I instinctually flipped hoping that there wasn't an additional strand under water.  There wasn't and I rolled up with a brain freeze.  Sheesh - talking about turning a class II run into Class V.


Another 100 yards and one of the neighbors was on the bank yelling at us that there was a dangerous waterfall around the bend.  We knew there was a gorged in section of river below us, but none of us had ever seen it.  Dave got out to scout and gave hand directions to Will and I and we ran a really fun 6' ledge into the gorge.  It was clean just left of center and a blast. 


From there down it was more swift water to a friends house that has a deck overlooking the brook.  We got out and had some food and a beer.  Below Ben's home, the river picks up in action and holds it on down to the Cox brook falls (an old removed dam).  This section is pretty fun and has bigger drops than the upper section.  It is also stacked up a little more continuous.  Other than one strainer which we could get over, it was clean too.  The rapids directly in front of the old dam site looked like fun but they lead directly into a chocolate brown churning mess that dropped about 15 feet in stages and had numerous holes.  It didn't look like any of it would be retentive, but a flip would be highly abusive!  All three of us decided to walk the dam due to the increasing flow and manky looking rapid at the dam/falls.  We put in below hoping to run the rapid below the RR bridge.  Unluckily it had wood in both sides so we walked that too. 


We took out at the Falls General Store and had some beer.  Will realized he left his keys up in my truck so we didn't have a shuttle vehicle and I thumbed my way back up to the truck.


All in all it was a great season opener on a new creek.  If you are just beginning to creek, this is a solid starter run other than the barbed wire and ornery Bull!

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