Hayfork Creek Lower Run
What were we to think? Dick Schwind's guidebook claims that between Hayfork's "[9-mile] bridge and Hyampom valley, Hayfork Creek plunges thru two narrow, unrunnable gorges with gradients of 200 feet per mile." Holbek's writeup says the gradient in these gorges is only 95/65/85/85 and 105, with some “serious class V rapids” in there.
I think Schwind was closer to the truth, and Holbek misread the topo map. I'll have to doublecheck, but it's hard to believe the first gorge dropped only 330' in four miles, and the second gorge was only a mile long.
We boated on 300-400 cfs (sidestreams add considerably to the flow). Hardshell kayakers could easily cope with flows that low, or could go somewhat higher. In an IK, I wouldn't have wanted much higher flows.
It's easy to find a shuttle driver at the Hyampom general store. For $15 the fire chief agreed to drive me in his truck back to 9-mile bridge.
This section is very beautiful and should be run more often than it is, despite the portages (one quite difficult). The water is clear and green, the scenery exquisite. I'd love to hear from any boaters who have run it.
As usual, Holbek's description is right-on. This is a class IV-V run, and everything he says actually happens. Just a few additions:
Below Griz Falls, make sure to get out on the left. Do not commit to running the first drop of the boulder sieve: it could turn out badly. As far as we could see, there was no alternative to a strenuous portage over huge rocks on the left.
After the portage comes a long class IV+, and rapids ease to class III and then class II as you come into Hyampom valley.
The first gorge has many exhilarating drops, while the second has only a few, and several mandatory portages, making for better morning than afternoon memories!
Map of Rivers