Monday, July 23, 2018

Honolulu Creek - 7.21.2018

After a prolonged negotiation with Leah, we agreed to an alpine-start at Fire Island at 8:55 on Saturday morning. By 9:30 we were on the road with cookies, scones, and coffee for fuel. We stopped by the Honolulu Creek bridge to check on water levels, chatted up a vanload of curious Indian tourists, hydrated on Bud Light Lime, and by 1:30 were hiking out of the Hurricane Gulch parking lot. After Aniakchak, it felt weird to be walking on a trail made by wheels instead of one made by the terrifyingly large brown bear paws of the Alaska Peninsula. The climb went by quickly and was broken up by a friendly family of rednecks on a six-wheeler followed by a long break under the cloudless skies. It was hard to feel hurried with nearly infinite daylight and perfect weather.

It wasn’t till around 8 PM that we had finished the straightforward hike and were putting at the mini-gorge. Within 15 minutes, the horizon line of the creek pouring over California Ledge was in front of us. Leah asked if she was going to die and confirming that she probably wouldn’t we continued. The rest of the run was a fun and interesting pool – drop style creek with occasional sections of dragging through flat water. It’s easy to imagine that it would be more continuous, powerful, and exciting at higher flows. At one-point Alex and I saw a giant beaver watching from the bank. With a body the size of a chocolate lab, it slid into the river and floated under us like a furry submarine. In the lower river we started to pass colorful king salmon as they swam slowly upstream. By 11 we were at the takeout where Tony and Cody were running over in their head nets to say hi. Tony and I did a little planning for caribou hunting season, then we were on the road home. Without traffic the drive was fast, and I happily crawled into bed at 3 AM on Sunday morning.

Jeff on California Ledge:


Pixie dust in the evening light:

Leah on one of many smaller drops:

Paddling out the last bit to the bridge:

Streamflow Reference Points for 7/21/2018:
  • Montana Cr - 280 cfs - median is 320 cfs.
  • Willow Cr -540 cfs - median is 530 cfs.
  • Honolulu Cr @ Bridge - 250 cfs (estimated) - any less water would not have been floatable.

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