Mosley Creek Expedition

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Mosley Creek Day 3 The River

Mosley Creek Day 3- The River and Camp 1

After sitting on the cold, snow-laden gravel bar for nearly an hour, Mike returned with our boats, and to our dismay, his daughter, making more people present than seats in the Bell Long Ranger. We were now obligated to paddle the river, as there was not enough room to all pile in the helicopter and go home.

With the decision made for us, there was nothing left to do but drop in.

We paddled flats for a while in silent contemplation. We new what lay downstream from the flight, and things were going to get tough one way or another. For the moment we were all enjoying floating on the mythical Mosley Creek. Amazed that years of planning, weather and flow speculation and serious persistence had finally delivered us to the present moment. Now all we had to do was survive and our goal would be accomplished.

Here is a shot of the first rapid; you can see where the river changes from gravel bars to the gorge.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

Riley and Daniel working through the warm up.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

A good look at the initial character of the river.

photo by Johnnie Kern

A downstream shot of the run-out of the first gorge.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

We soon realized that most of the rapids we took for easy class Five from the air were not that at all. The height of the drops, the complexity of the greyhound size boulders and the inherently dangerous character of the river combined to make the going tough and tenuous.

“Where do we go? Better yet, where did the river go?”

photo by Tommy Hilleke

Here is the group at the top of one of the cleaner drops.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

Pat Keller pulling an artful wall grind over a dangerous hydraulic.

photo by Tommy Hilleke


John Grace and Pat in the runout of the same rapid. The stream morphology of Mosley Creek may be compared to North Carolina’s Linville Gorge or Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison, or that of Chile/Argentina’s Manso River. This company puts the Mosley in a class with some of the world’s most intimidating and dangerous whitewater.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

photo by Tommy Hilleke

Daniel protecting his fragile HD camera, Seattle-style.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

John Grace and Riley running another classic Mosley drop.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

The rapid typifies what one would find if they made the foolish mistake of returning to Mosley Creek; big ledges and big holes with bigger trees protruding from even bigger sieves and potholes. AWESOME!

photo by Johnnie Kern

Daniel finishing out the above cataract.

photo by Johnnie Kern

Just below this gorge we experienced the most decisively dangerous moment of the trip. We scouted a complex boulder garden that was deemed un-runnable from the air due to several house size boulders blocking the entire flow of the river. Upon closer inspection a serpentine path wove its way through the madness of granite and whitewater. Riley and Daniel went first through the overhanging channel, somewhere mid rapid a powerful turn to the right is necessary to avoid a cave running perpendicular to the flow. Upon first inspection the cave appeared to be a stellar place to eddy out and enjoy being down amongst it. Second glance told a different story. The entire cave boulder was undercut and a good portion of the river was flowing UNDER the downstream wall of the cave. For those of you who have paddled the mighty Russell Fork Gorge in Kentucky, imagine the ’16 Stitches’ rock in maze rapid.

Here is John Grace pulling out after "Pat's Rapid". Notice Mr. Keller standing on top of the large boulder and the excessive flow pouring out from underneath its entire length.

photo by Johnnie Kern

Pat was third and heeded the sirens call, catching the eddy in the cave. He soon realized the error of his ways and decisively fought the flow sucking him under the downstream wall. Pat fought and made his way to a pile of boulders in the back of the cave and pulled himself up on the shore. Pat was then forced to climb up a vertical cave chimney to assess the situation. He was stuck on the river left/middle and none of team could help him out. We felt a sense of helplessness and could only offer moral support. The big problem was the rapid just below, and Pats proximity to the lead in. He was forced to seal launch over 15 feet, land in a micro eddy and then make a near-impossible upstream ferry to avoid running said rapid of destruction.

John Kern and Daniel re-entering the river after Pat's talented aversion of disaster.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

John Grace in the run-out of the same gorge.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

Grace in the bottom of one of the more serious and complex cataracts of the trip.

photo by Johnnie Kern


Tommy Hilleke, deep in the meat of the run. The expression tells it all.

photo by Johnnie Kern

We finally reached the point in the gorge from which we scouted Mosley in 2003. Way less water and a whole pile of logs and sieves and undercuts, Not good.

photo by Johnnie Kern

The top of the rapid from "Amongst IT".

photo by Tommy Hilleke

Beaten and exahusted we began scouting for a bit of flat land, any flat land.

photo by Tommy Hilleke

Finding a somewhat acceptable bench, 40 feet of the river, we made camp in the snow. A few random sleep spots were found, including an overhanging cave that provided shelter from the falling snow.

photo by Tommy Hilleke


photo by Tommy Hilleke

The view from the cave at Mosley camp 1.

photo by Johnnie Kern

1 Comments:

  • Good work guys!
    I´m freezing just by reading your posts!

    By Blogger godie, at 7:56 AM  

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