Copper Creek, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||125 fpm|
|EAST FORK LEWIS RIVER NEAR HEISSON, WA|
|usgs-14222500||1000 - 4000 cfs||IV-V||00h19m||85.1 cfs (too low)|
At lower flows, the upper section will mostly keep your group busy watching out for pins and looking for the deepest routes through the boulder gardens. At medium or healthy flows it can be very splashy with non-stop sliding action, small ledges and bouldery rapids. This upper stretch is mostly III-IV. Even though it is usually pretty clean and a ton of fun at reasonable flows, be sure to keep an eye out for wood.
The first significant drop on this section is Fishtail, which is the first drop where the bottom is not visible aside from a large boulder in the center. Run left all the way. The biggest drop on this upper stretch is The Weir, a slide of about 12 vertical feet. It has a little flake right of center that tends to launch boaters into the air over what is a sticky hole at high flows. Scout/portage this drop on the left. It comes up quick after a couple of small bedrock ledges in a row.
As you continue downstream, you will experience a mile long class fun giggle fest at healthy flows, or a class III-IV technical run at low flows. At the end of this stretch a bridge is passed under. Get out on the right as soon as it is convenient to scout and likely portage Certain Death. If you go too far, the rapid can sneak up on you and an inadvertent run would be plenty likely. Scout and portage it on the right, along a trail that parallels the river. Should you attempt to run it, take note of the hole feeding into an undercut on the river right, just waiting to catch those who mess up the top of the drop. For those choosing to portage, you can easily portage right along an old road and seal launch off the side of the small cliff into the green water just downstream of the drop.
The most scenic drop of the run is Triple Delight. This drop consists of three ledges of increasing size – two, eight and eighteen feet. The cleanest line involves boofing the first two ledges just left of the main chutes. The final 18 footer can be run far right or far left (photo). At higher flows, the middle slot should also become accessible. You can easily scout this drop on the left or right. Bring a camera.
The Final Five is the last series of drops on the river. It consists of a small slide (right to left ending in a boof off a flake), a 7 foot pourover ledge, followed by a fast winding 8 foot wide slide that spills into the right wall and into a pool before the 12 foot high double-pitch slide (photo). On this last slide, start far right and try to move center and boof next to the boulder in the center of the river. The last double drop can also be snuck far left if flows are not too low. You can scout all of the drops from the right bank.
Shortly thereafter, the creek joins the East Fork Lewis. From there, it's all class III or so until Horseshoe Falls. The takeout is not far downstream of this clean 10-20 foot falls.
The section upstream of the footbridge is more of the same class III-IV, but of lesser quality and it requires hiking a nice trail as far as is desired.
with contributions from Boris Startsev