Van Campens Mill Creek, Pennsylvania, US
|Usual Difficulty||V+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||350 fpm|
Tumbling Waters Creek is a shocking creek given the extremely modest look of the flow at the take out.
Upstream this creek is busting loose with a multi tier waterfall pushing near 40 feet. It also boasts Back Alley Brawl, a complex class 5+ box canyon style walls sporting an inaccessible slot with captive holes, long term resident wood, and flows that want to slam you into the rock wall if your boof angle and timing suck even a little. Everyone eats the wall or loses their paddle sooner or later.
If the watershed's ground is frozen or if its soaked, a quick 1+ inch rain could bring this gem up, but usually it takes a huge several inch storm to bring this up. This is the sister to the easier to catch Hornbeck's Creek (class 5+) just a couple drainages to the north. Always check this one first before heading to Hornbeck's or check afterwards it if it rains hard while you are in the area.
If you are boating a minimal flow the first 200 yards can be draggy, be patient till you get to "Signs of Life". Interesting lines start popping up with many horizon lines.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Signs of Life||III+|
|0.2||Louisiana Water Thrush||N/A|
|0.4||Back Alley Brawl||5.1|
|0.5||Slip N' Slide||IV+|
|0.7||Raging Angels 2nd Tier||IV+|
|0.8||70 Footer Portage||N/A|
After a short class 2 section, some downed wood and one weak class 3 ledge is Sign's Of Life, a series of 4 ledges stacked on each other. The river is now ramping up leaving its tame character behind. Paddle up to the first ledge (6 ft) and boof right as there is a piton in the center line. Bounce down through the fun smaller ledges. This is a great spot for a group picture of everyone boating close.
A double drop starting with a 6 footer into a moving pool feeding into the second 12 foot drop. Center line through both are common. Expect wood just outside of the landing zone on the 2nd drop. Take care in the upper tier's hole in high water.
Named for the Pocono Environmental Education Center (Peec) just a stones throw away.
It is said that the Louisiana Water Thrush has abandoned Hornbecks Creek for the quality log roosting to be had on Mill Creek. Please do not cut out these last stands for our vacationing water thrush friends.
Note: at the water's horizon line is the limbo log entering into Last Rights
Currently there is a large log over the entry lip of Last Rights. You can "easily" Limbo under the log at flows under 2.0. During our high water run of 2.75 flows Kevin micro squeezed under, Sam seal launched off the top of the log and I put in at the eddy at the base of Last Rights on river right.
At lower levels this drop is independent and 2 eddies can be caught on left and right. At levels of 1.5 and up the eddies get slim pickings and look very unattractive, as a miss could send you into Back Alley Brawl backwards which could be disastrous. Last Rights has been run hard right without pitons. Center lines with left angle have produced barrel rolls and trashy hard hits on the right hip. At low water, my face mask took several painless gashes here. With the log in place, at the rapid's lip, the drop has a class 5+ feel doing the limbo just as the bottom drops out (inducing a barrel roll in my case -wg)
If you don't like the look of this just portage Last Rights and Back Alley Brawl (V+). In the winter portage on Left though there is a trail on river right that might work well in warmer ice free months.
This is the signature rapid on the river. This rapid has several complicating factors that change greatly at levels above 2.0
It is a very narrow line through a box canyon style gorge with rock on each side. Once you are in, I doubt you will get a chance to climb out if you swim. We ran this first at a level about 1 inch below the gauge's first hack mark. The entry at low flow is direct and easy setting up success at punching the entry hole to the Back Alley Brawl.
This entry hole deserves its name "HOLY SHIT HOLE". At 1.0 water flow it unexpectedly threw me into the large longterm strainer log at the back end of the hole. At high flows 2.75 it beat the piss out of our best pro boater. YEEHAW Kev!! I really wanted to name this hole peewee so we could say Kevin got his ass kicked in a hole named peewee but I gave in to group pressure....holy shit hole it is. Don't under estimate it.
The most concerning nature of the Back Alley is that what happens in the alley stays in the alley. Every man for themselves. Assistance and rescue in the winter is nearly impossible, heck scouting wasn't really possible without an ice axe and crampons on the steeps. Kevin got worked for 2 minutes and we didn't even know nor could we hear him. Take an extra measure of safety here and don't assume anything. For some reason I've always been the last guy through and I've hated it every isolated time.
After you clear "Holy Shit Hole" and pass on the Left of the large log, look for the "Boulder Pinch Down" and the only line of a boats width to the right. At high water I got endered and majorly stalled here which is that last thing you need just feet from the boof. Even good lines on the right leave you in a less than idea angle approach to the boof. The tail feels too far right.
Clearing the "Pinch Down" you are within feet from the critical diagonal lip you must boof. Drive Hard right and try to fall off keeping your nose away from the left wall. Chances are your first time you will blow the move. As long as you remember to pull in your Left paddle blade and parallel up with the paddle you should be ok. If your bow falls into the left wall, which is exactly what the water wants to do to you, you will grind hard into the wall. Survivable but ugly and loud paddle clacking. I can easily see a paddle getting broken in here. As ugly as the hole is at this 10 foot boof, it seems to let boaters get away.
I think the risk of entrapment or broken bones swimming over the boof is significant. That said, fire it up and stay in the boat and make sure there is no new wood.
A fun drop. Slip right over a small ledge, move further right and Slide down to the shallow pool. Angle left or right at the bottom as we took some pitons here. The further right on the slide the less piton action.
Heaven's Gate is a 20 foot waterfall. The landing on the Right is a bit shallow. The pool is deep in the center and center Left. Be careful not to let the water stuff you into the crack of rock on river Left. Most of the water goes left and it will flip you over. Boaters have surfaced behind heaven's gate waterfall.
Take note of the hole just before the lip of the falls it needs respect. I ran the falls backward after it grabbed my bow on our high water lap of 2.75. At any flow, towards the lip, the water has a center to left flow pulling unwary boaters towards the rock wall on left. (see photo gallery)
A spectacular 2 tier 40 foot waterfall. The 1st tier is approximately 25 ft into a mid tier pool. It has been run on the right, center and creek left.
In all our runs we ran hard to creek left. In the picture you can see an auto-boof feature just above my stern. The auto-boof seems to be stronger if you lean back or dribble over the edge without any attempt of speed. It has hurt at least one boater having auto-boofed them into more greenish water. I always feel the auto-boof factor to some degree but it is easy to compensate with good form.
Paddle strong to the hard left line, lean forward, lock the hips and plug the line deep into the pool. I prefer this line as it sets you up in the eddie of the mid-tier pool. Chill out and watch your buddies fly in to join you.
Portage Raging Angels:
Reconsider if it's clean, the drop is probably less dangerous than the walk especially if there is any snow or ice present. Portages can be made on river right on a very steep trail. I would assume you would lower the boat by a rope down the slope.
This drop changes dramatically with high flows pushing up on the left and right shoulders funneling back into the center for some wild character of cross currents. At higher flows I took a deep center line in the fold and my tale was pushed down hard. I was shucked out of my boat, like having my pants slipped off. Wow!
Pictured is Eli Landis at about the lowest boatable flow, 1 inch under the 1.0 mark. He's about to break his boat on a welded spot ripping a wider 15 inch flap crack. So I would think to be somewhere other than his landing zone. See the gallery for his boat picture.
Beautiful yet unrunable and Only about 40 yards downstream of Raging Angels. Portage on the river right trail. Followed by a few hundred yard hike out to the Rt209 pull out.
We crossed the creek at all flows using a rope in a zipline fashion to make sure boaters wouldn't be swept the 6 feet and over the 70 footer. The first boater with the line crossed high staying close to the wall with an end of a rope. Tied off we setup the zipline angle and it was all good. Tightly belay the last boater across the shallow creek. Its a bit tense of a takeout portage crossing knowing whats just a few feet away. Take your time, don't stumble.