Bear Creek
Stone and Water Productions

Written by Mike Moser

After 4 straight weekends of either myself, Ryan Mack, or Mike Copeland trying to get Bear Creek done, it was finally completed yesterday, 6/21/2008, by Mike Copeland, Matt Elam, Corey Shuler, Tor, and myself (Mike Moser).

Matt, Corey, Tor, and I decided to camp up there Friday night to get a good early start. I had been putting the bug in Copeland's ear all week and he finally decided he was doing it and driving up after work Saturday morning. We had breakfast, bullshitted a bit, and then headed out.

We first started with a leisurely hike into the put in. It is about 1/4 mile hike through a ranchers pasture. By the way the Rancher is way cool and owns the OX Ranch. He has a lodge and told us if anyone ever wants to stay there or have access on the Wild horse section from where the road ends to Brownley, then to give them a call.

We put in on lick creek which had just enough water to float a boat. We ducked three barbwire fences, so be careful. The confluence of the upper bear creek doubles the flow and the water starts to get a little faster. We knew quite a bit of beta up until the 70' then it got a little fuzzy. The first bit of beta was that there was a broken slide for the first drop in there.

The slide probably drops about 15' in elevation and has a tree in the left side. Most of the group took the left and ducked the tree where it bends up. Tor took the right line which had a few drops in it and cleaned it.

Our next bit of info was that there was a 20' waterfall that followed the slide. It seemed that was about 1/2 mile after the slide or so.

The waterfall has a cave on the right hand side, which is unfortunate, because that is where the good part to drop is. We looked at this one for a while, Tor and Matt went to the right hand side to take a look and gave us all signals. Matt went first, dropped it, cleaned it.

The rest of the group followed. Mine wasn't as clean as I wanted, I hit the edge of the pillow more in the green water and felt some of the impact. But it was still a great fun drop. Be careful on this drop due to the cave, it is committing.

The next drop was about 1/4 mile past the 20'. This was the big one that Dave Norrell ran in the Revolution video. It has a two tiered drop in it. I must say, after seeing this waterfall, Dave, wherever you are, you have some huge balls. It is an awesome sight to see. By the way, there was some debate on how big that waterfall is, and I am pretty sure that 70' stands up. It really is an amazing sight.

As we were checking out this waterfall from a point on the river right. Corey comes up and looks down the cliff wall and then looks at a tree that I am leaning on heavily due of my fear of heights, and says, we should drop boats over this and down climb this. I said, you want to do WHAT?!!

Everyone was pretty accomidating to my fears, which I was very stoked about. When it came my turn, I finally  dropped down the 80 - 100' cliff and it was fine. It is good to face your fears, as much as I was nervous about it, I really wanted to do it. Now, I want to do more rapelling, because I want to be comfortable in situations like that.
In fact, I went and bought some equipment this morning.

I can say, it is a little nerve racking to see Copeland tying knots. Especially ones that you have to depend on, but he did a really good job and we all made it down fine.

After the 70', there is a bunch of Class IV+ - V. There is a lot of places that we ducked logs. There were even some where we had to portage logs. There was a good gorge in there that had a Class V type of rapid, that went well.

The runout is a lot longer than beta had indicated. It is a lot of fun though with plenty to do and keep your eyes out for. There was another rapid that had logs on the river right and a hairpin turn with most of the water wanting to go down under the logs. We decided to set safety there, which proved to be a good choice. Tor came first and the water swept him under the logs, but Corey was fast to react and clipped his boat with the rope and pulled him out within seconds.

Matt looked at me for a signal and I couldn't give a thumbs up. I gave him multiple signs that meant iffy at best. He came down, made it, but it didn't look pretty, so the rest of us decided that the fun vs risk factor didn't quite balance, so we portaged on river left.

I would say that you want paddlers in there that you are comfortable with. They need to be comfortable at eddy hopping with hand signals. There were times that you hadn't seen anyone else for a half hour except for the person in front of you and the person behind, just because you were passing hand signals. I can't say enough about this team. I have paddled with all of them at different times except for Tor and the team did a great job and worked together exceptionally well.

It was a great run. I think that we put on at 11:00 AM or so and got off at 5:30 PM, so plan for a long day. I would highly recommend this run. It is an amazing place and has some of the most unique scenery out there along with some fun, manky rapids.

See this and more on Stone and Water Productions current project Nothing to Offer. Scheduled to be released Fall 2008.


Photo By Matt Elam


See more photos of this and other creeks in the S&W Photo Gallery.