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Upper Moose

Tuesday May 8, 2012
Kayak: Noah P, AJ S.
Organizer: AJ Seibel
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: AJ Seibel

With good rain in the forecast, I started attempting to rally folks for an Upper Moose adventure after I caught wind that the gate was open early this year. Noah was the only one that took the bait, but it was all good regardless.

Normally this is a fall paddle, the gate typically remains closed until Memorial Day weekend. For whatever reason it's open early this year, most likely due to the fact that mud season has come and gone.

We arrived and I quickly checked my gauge, a midstream rock that is just upstream of the bridge at River Rd./Victory Rd. The water was slightly below the rock, which normally indicates a passable but potentially bony run. We headed up the road towards the put-in and parked one vehicle at our somewhat established takeout just above the last good rapid, the Moose Cooch. It was here that I realized I forgot my drysuit. Damn! Luckily, Noah had an extra drytop and a brand new set of dry pants for me to squeeze in to (literally - he's a small guy!) Crisis averted, we headed upstream and got on the river in the pool below the confluence of the East and West Branches of the Moose River.

The first drop went beautifully, with both of us sticking a great boof off of the rolling 5-footer that starts the run. From here we cleanly navigated a number of boulder rapids and ledge drops until our arrival at FusterCluck - a small slot/slide that constricts the rivers flow into a 3 foot wide channel. We scouted and I got back in to my boat to demo the line for Noah. I have no idea what happened from there! I dropped onto the slide, and the left side of the world felt as though it fell out from beneath me. I was upside down as I flailed towards the bottom of the drop - losing my paddle and quickly wet-exiting to avoid some of the undercuts in the bottom of the drop. I swam down the slide and after my boat, recovering myself and my gear about 75 yds downstream. Phew!

From there down the rapids were fun and we had no mishaps. We styled through rapids with emerging names such as "The Slides", "LIttle Squirt" and "Lost Ring". It was at about this point that we realized the level was coming up as things weren't as bony as expected. The run was coming into a good medium flow... As we ran the approach rapid for "Sideways Waterfall that lands on rock", we discovered a log next to the last chance eddy for the drop. If you choose to run the waterfall, have your bow pointed HARD to the right or you'll piton and possibly have a vertical pin. Noah and I seal-launched in next to the waterfall to avoid any more mishaps. Ledges continue downstream, and after passing beneath the Radar Rd. Bridge things mellow out for a short while before another sequence of fun class III-ish rapids, again mellowing to class II before the grand finale - the Moose Cooch!

We scouted this class IV gorge from the RR rim, going over lines and hazards along the way. Back at our boats we slipped back into the river and started the gorge through the river left slot - a fun turbulent slot with a few foam piles to punch. From there you boogie down the right side down a slide, punch another few holes, and land in a nice pool with vertical slate walls on each side. Really, a beautiful spot to be on any river. Leaving this pool leads the boater into a boulder garden that finishes with a diagonal ledge that sports a folding hole on the right that has caused many rolls and even more braces! A few more cool down rapids lead to a large boulder on river right that signals the takeout. We hiked up and out and called it a day.

I've said it before... This run is spectacular! While not overwhelming, the drops are satisfying, the river remote, and all in all a "Class FUN" type of creek. Hit me up if you ever want to get on it!

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