This run (when coupled with the lower Slate) is considered by some boaters to be some of the U.P.'s finest spring boating. It has excellent backwoods scenery, a real small creek feel, and a bunch of great drops.
For early season runs, snow or mud are likely to preclude travel on the logging road beyond the quarry. If the road is passable, there is gradient upstream (to the listed put-in) which could add to the length and enjoyment of this otherwise fairly short segment. Otherwise (quite often) drive is as far up the road as one can travel with your various shuttle vehicles, and slog your way to the river.
On this upper run, the river is quite a small stream, mostly meandering through the woods. Random bedrock intrusions create an assortment of drops, most of which are boat-scoutable at reasonable water levels. The main exception is the final drop, Quartzite Falls, which comes just downstream of a bridge. Scouting is recommended from the right bank. A very irregular ledge drops the boater onto a low-angle slide (grungy at lower water levels) feeding into a hole as the water hits a pool at the end of the slide. With enough water to make the slide not-grungy, the hole can get rather meaty.
Take-out after running this drop and carry back upstream to bridge, or (if owner's permission is obtained in advance) proceed downstream to take-out at "Heartbreak Hotel" (a cabin just downstream, and immediately adjacent to both the river and Arvon Road).
This reach is likely to be combined with the lower run, but ~2.2 miles between the sections (as we have them listed) is flatwater punctuated by plenty of deadfall. It's a tough call whether its more hassle to 'double-shuttle' or suffer the flatwater and snags. The lower run is completely different in character, and a serious notch up in difficulty and potential consequence. Hardcore boaters may wish to completely skip the upper to concentrate on the lower run. It should be noted that it also contains a flat stretch with an even worse problem of deadfall.
It may be worthwhile to carry upstream less than a quarter-mile to catch what appears to be a sweet bit of gradient.
This starts the longest stretche of ledges/falls on this run, leading to the bridge above Quartzite Falls.
See description and various (low water) photos at: Waterfalls of the Keweenaw.
We highly recommend scouting from this bridge before running Quartzite Falls just downstream. (You may wish to do this when setting shuttle, just to be well familiar with the territory.)
Arguably the highlight of this run.
Not a hotel, just a cabin/house which has a sign saying "Heartbreak Hotel". If property owners are around, ask permission to park down here if you wish to enjoy the runout rapids and final gradient on the upper run. Downstream of this point, the next ~2 miles are low gradient (no real rapids, ledges, or falls), and lots of deadfall and snags (with likely a few portages to get around them). For that reason, we break this into this upper run and a separate lower run.
* The reference gauge here is for the Silver, which may be used as the 'first indicator'. Watersheds are parallel and about 5 miles apart. Correlation should be good, but is not assured.
This watershed is about half the size of the listed gauge, so estimated flows might be reduced accordingly.
Second gauge is to measure down from lower edge of bevel on cement bridge deck on upstream center of the bridge on Skanee Road. 10'6" (126" down) is the lowest recommended level. It is runnable at this level, but quite boney. Remember, on a 'measure down' gauge, "less is more". That is, 10'1" (down to the water) is HIGHER than 10'6" (down to the water). Frankly, I would recommend that you subtract your measure-down reading from 126" (the recommended minimum), and use (record, report) that value. A negative result is a no-go. A positive result tells you how much above minimum you have.
The final indicator is inspection of river/rapids at put-in. If rapids look at least marginally boatable, then either reach (upper or lower) should be ok.
This upper reach is much less challenging, therefore less sensitive to water level differences than the lower reach of this river. (specifically, it can be run more reasonably at higher flows than the lower section.)
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Bob runs Ecstasy Falls
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