After two months of creeks in California, Oregon, and Washington, I almost forgot what it feels like to get on a river. But the North Fork of the Payette made me remember, quickly, what its like to get on some big water! We paddled two sections of river while we were at the Payette’s. The first being the Staircase section, a 30 minute class III play-boating stretch. And the second being the Lower 5. We got the whole group down the first 3 miles of the Lower 5 stretch, which was around class IV- minus at higher water. But after that the big rapids start coming in and you get into some good old class V big water creeking.
The first rapid you come up to is Otters Slide, which is after the first couple miles of continuous boogie water. This rapid’s line is dependant on the level, but for us we had medium flows and the Slide was in! You head straight down the middle of the river and will see a giant pillow up on a rock, head for it. Be a little bit to the left side of the rock and it will shoot you straight across the river towards a big eddy which you want to catch. From here ferry straight across on the death ferry for fun or go straight down, it really doesn’t matter. Next up you got Juicer, my favorite. It’s 200 yards of big waves and bigger holes. You want to ride it out right of center the whole time, but don’t get to far right because there is a nasty pin rock!
With out a break in the rapids you’ll go through some boogie water and come up on Cruncher, where you want to head left and sail a hole boof. Stay left after the boof or you’ll get crunched in a massive hole! After that though just dodge some hole and enjoy the boogie water till the end! (make sure to split left at the fork in the river!) What is so unique and amazing about these five miles is that it only stops twice! This being one of the main it is considered a class V, because if you swim…….just don’t.