With plans to drive to the Kiyotsugawa in the afternoon, this run seemed like a nice short and relatively easy plan for the day. That might seem weird, that our one first descent of the trip was an “easy” day but alas it was road side and we knew most of what to expect. Mostly class III with a big falls or two that may or may not be runnable that one member of the group scouted the day before while the rest of us were enjoying the lower run on the Zakogawa.
The water was low, very low… abusively low. We put on a bit above the bridge over the river but by the time we got to the bridge, we wished we had put in there. A short ways downstream, the river dropped over a 5 foot ledge that you could run anywhere. Below, the river fell over a two tiered drop that was good fun. Just below, was the large falls. A brief scouted showed us that there was the big line in the center, with a 20-25 foot drop into a hallway above an 8-10 foot boof before the exit pinch. Or there was the right line which was a slopping drop into the wall before rejoining the hallway. Members of the team took their turns on both sides. Personally, looking downriver at the hillside that would require a rope to get the boats and people out… I opted for the easy trail just above the rapid as I was still tired and sore and swearing off ropes and steep hillsides from the day before on the Lower Zako portage. After helping the rest of the team out of the canyon, and hiking on the easy trail back to the car, we saw that 100 yards further, just around the corner the river was close to the trail and would have required no rope assistance. Live and learn I guess. Just make sure you get out above the unrunnable cascade!
Enjoy the video from both the Upper and Lower Zakogawa
For more information on these runs, visit www.awetstate.com -Daniel Brasuell