Yellowjacket Creek

Class IV+, 78fpm, ~500cfs (2500cfs Cispus at Randle)

January 12-13, 2002

Ben, Jason, Josh

Jason hiking above the put-in.


Yellowjacket is a lot of fun at low flows. At high flows it's another creek, or should I say river. The rocks get buried and the waves get bigger leaving an endless torrent -- unless you happen to get stuck in one of the holes.

The plan was to do Yellowjacket Creek Saturday and NF Cispus Sunday. The Hummels and I met up in Morton and made our way through Randle to the familiar take-out. Pleased with the higher flow we continued to the put-in. Most of the snow had melted making the descent relatively easy. A trail led us to the bank but some distant froth caught our attention so we ended up hiking about 1/4-mile further to the base of the first of three drops. The hole looked too burly to warm up on so we ditched our boats and continued higher. The second drop was even worse and the third, while, you get the picture.


Jason checking out the third drop above the put-in.


After seeing the second and third we reasoned the first was safe. Jason and Josh towed their boats up while I shot photos. My new hip pads gave me an excuse not to run it but it looked like a lot of fun. Jason went first and disappeared in the froth. Too late. Josh went next and pulled an even bigger mystery. I barely caught him at the top.


Jason running the first drop. Too late.


Josh pulling a mystery.


Soon we were all in our boats. I practiced a few rolls to make sure my hip pads worked and we completed the warm up to McCoy Creek. The Meteorite was of slight concern but we had no trouble running it center.


Josh running The Meteorite above the confluence with McCoy Creek.


McCoy looked very tempting but we weren't in the mood for more hiking. Besides, Godzilla was just below and we wanted to get it over with.

We eddied out right because we knew that was the only way to portage and set up safety. It didn't look much worse than last time (see Winter 01) although the hole at the bottom was of greater concern. Josh set up safety while I hiked back to my boat. I ended up flipping end over end in the first reversal. The second reversal wasn't much help and I ended up going into the bottom hole backwards and upside-down with no breath. I caught some air right away but it was more of a temptation to get worked than anything else. This was definitely the worst hole that I've willingly stayed in but my punishment paid off. After a minute or so I sensed the silence and a few seconds later I rolled up. KHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Too late. The first thing I saw was the froth and the next thing was Josh throwing me the rope. My boat was already being swallowed so with the rope in one hand and my skirt in the other, I pulled. Josh pulled me to the right while my boat made its rounds. We eventually grabbed it on the outskirts and lifted it to shore. About then, I noticed my paddle sitting in the opposite eddy against a cliff. I figured it might stay there so I helped Josh drain my boat. It wasn't long before it started to drift so I attempted to swim after it. Unfortunately, the hole is riverwide with a cliffed-in exit. My first attempt led me straight towards the hole. Fortunately, Josh was still there with his rope. My second attempt started with a scramble and ended with an all-out leap to get past the recirculation. I made it with some full-on freestyle swimming but my paddle was long gone. My dismayed chase lasted another half-mile before I gave up.

The Hummels managed to get my boat and themselves around Godzilla and I met up with them a short ways down. We didn't have a spare paddle so my options were to hand paddle or hike out. Hiking out was less than desirable so I ended up hand paddling some Class III before calling it quits. The seemingly good exit turned out to be a half-mile sore-shoulder scramble and a mile and a half sore-shoe run. I tried to hurry hoping to catch my paddle at the take-out but all I caught were the luckless Hummels who nearly beat me.

Despite my anger, we decided to head back to Morton. I was mad enough to hand paddle the NF Cispus but the rain discouraged us from camping. Besides, I wanted another round on Yellowjacket.

We spent the night in Morton and Jason and I returned to do the Yellowjacket on Sunday. The flows were slightly lower (2300 Cispus at Randle) so I figured we'd have a better chance of finding my paddle. I was bent on portaging Godzilla so I offered Jason safety. He ran it perfect but I still opted for the easy seal launch on the right.

We kept our eyes open the entire way but found nothing. I was disappointed for loosing the paddle but pleased to finish the run.


Jason running far right on the 7-foot ledge.


Myself scouting a logjam that we portaged. This can be run down the center but looked pretty risky at this flow.


Jason entering the final boulder garden.


The paddle lasted a week shy of one year. It's got my name and number on it in case you happen to find it. I use bent shafts now but I'd still like it back, being my first and all.