Tag Archives: whitewater kayaking

Kayaking Little Butte Creek: A Hidden Gem

It’s raining and its been raining for quite some time. For most people today might be a day to stay inside and get some laundry done, but me and my brother have other ideas…were going kayaking.

putting in on little butte creek

Early Spring days in the Rogue Valley mean warm temperatures (relatively) and high river levels; the perfect recipe for doing some play boating on flooded creeks.

Today’s target is Little Butte Creek. It rained all night on top of saturated ground so the creek that normally meanders through Eagle Point is now topping its banks and kicking.

This isn’t a hard run, it doesn’t have enough gradient to generate any nasty drops, but the river bottom is made up mostly of smooth bedrock which creates some beautiful big surf waves when a large volume of water is forced through it.

The last time I was on this stretch, over ten years ago, I was blown away by the quantity and quality of the play boating. There were perfect waves and holes everywhere. Todays’ level wasn’t quite as high as ten years ago so the waves weren’t quite as big or plentiful. It was damned fun though.

One feature I distinctly remember from last time, was a great play hole about halfway down the run. It was there today and was even better than I remember it. We played here for quite a while. The sun was out and hole was perfect.

The hole sets you up perfectly for throwing ends. All you have to do is relax and it automatically puts you into the perfect spot. I filmed my brother throwing some ends.

little butte creek oregon (click the previous link to view the youtube video.)

After the hole we were hopeful to find the next big feature I remember from last time; a massive wave with a perfect break at the top. I remember this wave being big enough to easily do crossovers with two boats.

As we made our way through Eagle Point, smelling the smells of McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, we came upon a nasty horizon line we’d totally forgotten about. It’s a two-part weir dam…nasty sumbitch.

We walked around it, thinking how stupid it would be to die in the middle of Eagle Point, on little Butte creek.

As we started getting near the end of the run, we realized the wave we were searching for must be coming up. We came through a stretch that looked like we remembered but the wave wasn’t there.

The creek was either not high enough, or it had changed. Whatever the case, the wave of my dreams wasn’t there. Oh well, I’ll always remember it the way it was that first time.

As we hit the confluence of Little Butte Creek and the Rogue we figured no one had run that fun little stretch of river since the last time we did. It’s a hidden gem that gets overlooked because of its close proximity and benign nature.

Play Kayaking’s Lost Move: The Pirouette

Todays play boats are unrecognizable compared to the early days. There are so many different shapes and sizes now, you can literally choose your boats’ specifications based on which wave or hole your surfing that day.

When I started kayaking 30 years ago, I was 13 years old and there weren’t many choices. In fact, my first boat was a handmade fiberglass boat specifically designed for a child. In retrospect, this boat was way ahead of its time; it was short, stubby and had a decent amount of rocker…but I digress.

My first real boat was a black Perception Dancer. This boat was revolutionary in its time, it was considered short even though it was around 13 feet long!

Of course you couldn’t do most of the tricks you can do in todays play boats, but one of the tricks you could do with these long cylindrical boats was the pirouette.

The pirouette along with back-surfing and hole spinning was the pinnacle in play-boating prowess. It was also the most fun of any of the moves.

Since todays shorter boats aren’t conducive for performing a pirouette most kayakers have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, let me explain the technique:

The object was to find a decent pour-over that was strong enough to put these high volume boats into an ender. of course if you’re relatively new to kayaking you may not know what an ender is either, but I think you can figure it out.

Here’s some help, just in case: The nose of the boat is buried into the oncoming water, the nose knifes deep and the tail raises up putting you in a vertical position. If you do that in todays play boats you will immediately end-over and probably perform a loop.

However, the older boats were so long they wouldn’t end-over, they would shoot into the vertical position and basically bob downstream while the kayaker tried to maintain the upright position by leaning back or forward. This was the classic ender and the beginning of the pirouette move. Continue reading Play Kayaking’s Lost Move: The Pirouette

Gold Ray Dam Removal Affects Local Kayaking

The 104 year old Gold Ray dam was removed this summer. It was deemed a huge impediment to migrating Salmon and Steelhead on the Rogue River, and was considered a dilapidated and dangerous structure.

It was removed and now the river runs free. In my opinion this is all good, however there was one major downside to the dams destruction.

Kayaking Spot…Gone

The dam and concrete fish ladder created one of the best kayaking play wave/holes in the region. I would go so far as to say the wave was one of the best i’d ever surfed. Any whitewater kayaking trick you can think of could be done at this wave…blunts, ends, splits, loops, whatever your pleasure you could do it here.

Because it was formed by slabs of flat concrete it’s shape was very unique. It had a hole portion, you could throw multiple ends in, a super fast wave portion you could throw aerial blunts in and a nice big eddy beside it for easy access.

Surfing with the Salmon

Since the wave was directly below the fish ladder, surfing in the Spring always brought the unusual experience of surfing with the Salmon. Literally, surfing with the Salmon. Many times i’d be parked on the wave and have a Salmon come crashing over my shoulder in his struggle upstream. There were always dark backs and dorsals beside you as you chucked ends and hit blunts. Continue reading Gold Ray Dam Removal Affects Local Kayaking