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Ice House Report
by Ricky McDaniel 11/30/2007


It took a bit of trial and error for me to put together a crew to hit Ice House this year. I did not feel quite up to "Leading" anyone down this run. I ran it last year with Phil B, Chuck S. and Steve R.

There are a few log portages and several spots where you can get around, over or under logs with some creativity. There are a few solid class IV rapids in there and the water is continuous for very long stretches with no eddies. I ended up making the run with Suzanne R. Kiran B. and Pat, We had a good group that were all capable of reading and running the rapids and self rescue. Kiran chose not to run the first gorge so he set up to take pictures at the hardest rapid of the run, a right hand rock slide after a long lead in.

Pat put in at the dam and ran the first rapid. The water comes out of a 8' diameter pipe and it's so fast it doesn't touch the ground for a good 40 feet. The first rapid starts about 200 feet down stream and the water is still moving really fast. The river drops quickly and you have to move right to avoid getting pushed into a bush. Pat made it look easy but Suzanne and I wanted a little more warm up than that. We put in below the first rapid.

Right away I found myself fighting my way through a rock garden that got me off balance and kept me fighting to stay up-right for about 25 yards. Then we arrived at a low head dam the took us a minute to boat scout. We ran it over a rock that sticks up in the middle, breaking up the sticky looking hole that runs most of the width of the river.

We had scouted the big rapid on the way up so we had our lines figured out. I chose to not eddy out and just run the big one. Suzanne was afraid that I didn't know that I was running the big one. Once I make up my mind to run a hard rapid I don't like to stop and think about it too long!

All 3 of us had a good run, almost like we knew what we were doing. If all goes well then it's a really fun drop. Kiran joined us and we set off down the river, we started close to another group but we chose to hang back and create some space between us and the other group.

After the first gorge the river seems pretty easy for a while, continuous class II. Then we came to the ledge drop. It was easy to spot because there were a bunch of boaters out of there boats scouting it and I saw someone who is a pretty good boater draining his boat below that sticky ledge hole. Suzanne took a quick look at it and said she was going to run it. She had a determined look on her face as she headed up-stream to get into her boat. She had a near perfect run so I headed up to see how I could do; last year I walked it after watching one of my party take a very impressive rodeo ride and a swim.

I got too close to an under-cut rock and had to roll, By the time I rolled up I was right at the edge of the drop into the sticky ledge hole and I was too far left. At the bottom of the drop I was turned to my left an was side-surfing in the hole. I was able to brace-paddle my way out. WHEW, that was close!

A short way down-stream there is a river wide ledge with about a 6 foot near vertical drop. We were boat scouting it and I decided the the middle looked fine and I went for it. At the bottom of the drop I piton-ed a rock and came to a complete stop! Ow!, that hurt and my Habitat now had a pig nose. At this point the river picks up a bit of speed and we took turns leading.

It's a bit stressful knowing that there are many logs in the river and some of the drops turned and you can't see the bottom. There is one place where a log crosses the river about 16 inches above the water, It's in a nice pool so you can just roll, wait a few seconds and roll back up. One of our party however got pushed against the rocks on river left downstream from the log and was not able to roll back up. After a lengthy swim we finally got boater and gear to shore. The problem is that because this river normally has very little water in it there are willows all along the banks and it can be difficult to get to shore.

I had forgotten how long this run is, it just seems to go on and on with class II and III rapids and logs. Then near the end the gradient pics up and there are a few III - IV rapids.

We came to a HUGE tree spanning the river, pretty much damming the whole river. After a bit of boat scouting we went over the log, dropping 5 or 6 feet to the water below, there was some branches creating a dangerous looking strainer just left of where we chose to drop over the log but none of us had any trouble. The next rapid is really fun. We entered the drop on river right, slid down into a hole that THROWS you to the left. Then the bridge and take out are in sight and it's finally time to get my tired butt out of my boat.

At the take out we learned that some members of the group if front of us were having a bad day and decided that it was prudent to walk the last gorge. This is no easy choice because there are no roads or trails in there, they had to bushwhack there way for a mile or so. For those of you who read Koran's report on the list-serve you know, for the rest of you I'm going to say that the Ice house run is not for a class III paddler, Even if you put in below the first gorge and portage the ledge drop. This run is long and cold, the water is into the willows and brush on the banks for long stretches and there is a lot of wood to get around. Although not technically difficult for the most part the consequences are much more severe than the South Fork.





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