Dave had a run he wanted us to explore. What a wonderful surprise it turned out to be! Max, Mac, Geoff, Joe, Dave and myself all found it to be better than expectations, with Max even touting “favorite run“, and Joe snickering ”this is QUALITY!”
There was an air of excitement as we drove up the Browns Main. It goes up, way up, before leveling off and entering the upper reach of the Browns, just below Paradise Meadows. We got to the take out bridge… Yes, easy take out! The big round boulder on the down river side of the bridge was not quite covered, with 2-4 inches of height, and is a good indicator of flows. Flows on the lower Browns guage was 11-12 cms, which I would consider to be medium flows. I think optimum flows will be around 14-16 cms at the Browns River guage. We had nice views with snow covered mountain ridges all around. It has an almost alpine feel there because of all the logging and the snow covering the stumps.
We then drove up to the put-in. the gradient started slow, then ramped up on the road. The road is a little washed out, but in generally good shape. Looking down on the river, it went form boulder gardens, to constant rapids, to a falls, and another set of falls, all visible from the road. It got quieter in the vehicle, and comments about difficulty surfaced. Joe made the comment ” We’ll have to hop-skotch and not botch!” Apprehension set in and a nervousness settled into the bottom of the stomach. Yet we had a great crew, lots of time, and nice weather. An excellent combo for this kind of adventure.
We got to the snow line, and Dave our fearless leader, explained the other bridge put-in was another 400 m further. We started to walk, but only went another 200 m before deciding to go to the river’s edge. We got to the first significant drop and had a look. The drop goes, but has a very tight line with some serious consequence river right. We all opted to walk it with an easy, river level portage. There is a river wide log, just under the surface, 75 m downstream of the drop that is invisible. Around the corner and some boogie water later, we got to a fun 2 tier drop that is narrow at the top, and sticky at the bottom. Go river right, then center. You can scout river left. After, it’s a short rapid and then longer rapid to a corner. At the corner watch out! there is a log sieve on the right side of the main water channel. There is a clean line on river left into a big pool above the gem of the run. Eddy out on the center island. Be prepared to to be stunned.
A 20 to 25 foot falls, dubbed Rochambeau falls, lands in a small pool at this crux section of the run. The rapids below go on as far as the eye can see with whitewater the only thing in sight. A creek-boaters paradise! The falls have a very clean, easy to hit line. Dave went down and set up safety. Joe won the Rochambeau to go first and nailed it, but had his skirt implode on landing, and appreciated Dave’s presence and help, when his boat filled with water. Then I went off, followed by Max.
There is a log sieve on center right a rapid down from the falls that would be dangerous if swimming. The river just goes downhill at a very steady, highly busy gradient, that is all boat scoutable for some 400m. The river then eases off for a bit, for some fun 3+ boulder gardens. The next horizon line is the last significant drop. You can eddy out river left to scout, and see a line off the center channel, going left. It is a double boof over two holes. The bottom hole will get stout with more flow. I would take out in the pool below this drop if the flows are low. It would be a short 50m hike to the road, some 15 m up from the river.
The rest of the run is technical, mostly open boulder fields. At our flows, it was boney and we hit lots of rock. It would be a very fun section with higher flows (5-10 cms more). The river has one more small series of holes as a nice surprise, before getting to the bridge and the simple hike off the river. Ohh fun!
Hoots and hollers at the take-out followed by statements of 5 star run were bantered around. The discussion of run difficulty was around 4+. A quality run with short shuttle, easy on and off of river, and super high fun quotient! Oh and did I mention the falls…beautiful 20+ foot falls.