Cataract Creek Post Flood

May 11, 2014
Eric Howey

The following is a very detailed overview of the run and in particular any changes to it since the flood. The creek was running between 3.0-3.3cms and was paddled by myself, Brad and Ben. A quick synopsis is as follows: there really isn’t any significant wood to worry about; some river wide pieces on the float in and some partial obstructions that are easy to see but no surprise wood or fully blocked rapids. Titan has changed and now has a boulder on the river left side of the landing. Box Canyon has a wider slot on the right side. Other things are more or less the same.

The put in and take out are the “same”, i.e. in the same place, but Sentinel parking lot is completely washed out. You can just pull off the highway on the shoulder and park where Sentinel parking lot used to be. At the put in you will now probably use the river left side instead of river right, but it is otherwise the same.

Read more for some photos and in depth beta. All photos credit Ben Clark.

The Float

The first few kilometers of Cataract Creek were a float/meandering stream that was always a bit of a pain. Broadly speaking this is still true but the creek is noticeably less braided and has created some tighter more direct channels with slightly more gradient. I think there is a possibility of some class II+ whitewater in this section at higher flows, particularly at 10cms and above. About ¾ of the way to Titan the creek splits around a fairly large island with a brand new more direct channel on the left side of the island and the old creek bed on the right side. Most of the water seems to go left but the right side would probably be doable at higher water as there was some water going there even at 3cms. We had to do a bit of walking in this section due to low water with the split flows around the island.

As far as wood goes there were a couple river/channel wide trees that were very easy to walk around and see from a distance. These will likely move as the water comes up. They would also be easy to access with a chainsaw hiking from the put in if anyone is keen.

Titan and Hercules

The portage for Titan is a bit (20m) upstream of where it was before and is more of a bushwhack as there is lots of wood on the trail. It was an obvious gravel/boulder bar with lots of small eddies at our water level. It might be possible to get closer but it wasn’t worth the risk to us as we couldn’t be sure the eddies were there post-flood.

Hercules seems more or less the same although I can’t say I ever pay it much attention to it. Still looks really nasty with no obvious line.

The big news is Titan. It looks like part of the rock near the lip fractured or broke off. This has created a much nastier lead in and left a large boulder on the river left side of the landing. It appears that it will be harder to get the left→right momentum on the drop that is best. At this water level there was a small hole right where it used to be more of a ramp. It might clean up at higher water levels, time will tell, but whatever happens the consequences on the drop have increased significantly.

Zig Zag

I will keep this short; it seems to be more or less the same. One of the small ledges on the lead in may have changed a bit but still retains more or less the same character. I can’t be sure but it also seemed like it could be harder to make the small eddy on river left that some people like to pause in just before the drop. It was pretty easy to get the river left to right momentum needed at the water level we were at.

Box Canyon

The character of this drop is the same however it appears the slot on river right has gotten a bit bigger, more of a risk if you were to drastically miss your line. I think at higher water it may get pushier towards that river right slot and require some more cross current paddling. It also seems to have more of a defined hole at the end, it may be my memory but it just seemed a bit more ledgy than it used to be. My recollection is that it was a bit more like a slide before.

Leviathan and Final Ledges

The portage for Leviathan is still there on river right and easily visible. These drops have all retained the character they had before. There could be some small changes but there was nothing that stood out to me. Keep in mind that I have never paddled Leviathan so I might not be the best judge about it.

All the other stuff…

The character has stayed the same on the rest of the river and there was some wood at different points but it was all easy to see and pretty easy to get around. There were a couple of logs that obstructed ¾ of the river that maybe should be removed but they weren’t too big of a deal in our mind. The creek seems to have “widened” slightly, it could be my imagination but it just seemed a bit wider at some points and more open. We all commented that we wouldn’t come back until it was above 5cms. There were some new boulders in rapids and other rapids that had washed out a bit but it felt about the same in terms of difficulty.

I think that is it! I hope you get a chance to paddle this gem of a creek!