The Guidebook

To visit the LiquidLore Guidebook, click right here. It's the starting point for all kinds of whitewater beta and the main reason this site exists - be sure to check it out.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Big Silver Skunk Fest

There's nothing worse than driving vast distances to go kayaking, only to do no kayaking. That's what happened to us this weekend.

There's a fair bit of hype about Big Silver - click here, here and here and you'll see why - off the hook gorges and clean waterfalls sing a powerful siren song. Even at low water things seem to go fine on the upper sections, and the stout looking middle section seems to be coming into prime at this time of year when the water is low. Dreaming of a clean waterfall and running some cool gorges, off we set on the long ride up around Harrison Lake.

The whole Big Silver zone is exceptional. The water is that brilliant green color, and the gorges are steep and deep. Only thing was, the water was super low when we got there - that was obvious. What we determined is that the upper Big Silver does indeed get too low.

The first waterfall was much too dangerous to consider at the fish flows there when we put on. On the shuttle, Gold Creek was curiously full of water (and it had some awesome looking rapids - has anyone out there run this down into Big Silver yet?) and we were really hoping it would join the Big Silver sooner rather than later - this was not to be. It comes in about 3/4 of the way down, and up until then the rapids had just enough water to slam down - some we had to walk because there was just no line. Below Gold Creek the volume at least doubled and while still low there were some fun lines to be had.

Despite the low water, it was still cool to paddle through the upper Big Silver - the gorges are incredible with fantastic scenery and geology unlike any I've seen anywhere else. It would be a great run with water - it wasn't worth the drive up there in September though - unless our next day on the middle turned out to be fruitful.

The Middle wasn't to be either though. We did some extensive scouting on this section in the pouring rain, having heard rumors of a hellish portage deep in the heart of the gorge. The portage did look horrible with near vertical slimey granite walls on either side - the options we could see were to go way up and over a few rapids up from the falls you need to walk, or an extremely sketchy climb at water level right at the falls that would be tough in the best of times and impossible in the rain. In the end, the weather and multiple portages (we would have done at least three more) kept us off the water and heading for home.

So, that brings us to the customary links to the beta pages for both the Upper and the Middle Big Silver. I've decided to start something new in the guidebook - including rivers that I don't have a lot of beta for, or that I don't have any good photos of. Hopefully some directions, some level insight and a few brief comments will work - in some ways that's better than having everything spelled out anways. These runs will be listed under the heading Quick Beta on the regional web pages.

Click here for the Upper Big Silver beta, and here for the Middle Big Silver beta. There's also a few photos of our rock battle down the upper - it was too wet to have the camera out on during our dissection of the middle.

The big sieve at the put in falls was more than ample enough to accomodate almost all the flow in the river.

Scouting hopelessly.

While most of the river was runnable, there was some portaging because there just wasn't enough water.

The few rapids below the confluence with Gold Creek had water enough - even though still low, there were some fun lines like this one in there.

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