When does a river run become a steep creek?

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SimonMW
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When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by SimonMW »

Something that has had me in puzzlement for a bit. I'm selling a few things on so that with a bit of luck I can get hold of a playful boat to replace my Juice (which IS a really good boat, just not for my particular anatomy. Talking to Mr Knowledge himself, Ronnie at CIWW, he explained the reasoning why I may be having problems in no time) and also a winter boat and something I can take some gear in when needed.

I have narrowed down my choices to try out for the former play style boat. But the latter more general purpose one has still got me shtumped in good order. Going back to this whole thing about how a creek boat might be overkill for most things in the UK, just what is the point at which a creek boat becomes useful? Also, just what is a creekboat? I ask this because two boats are on my shortlist for something bigger and more comfortable. The Wavesport Diesel 70, and the Habitat 74.

The Diesel is a planing hull boat, and can apparently be thrown around like a slalom boat. So, a bit of fun to be had there then, but not so good on tricky rocky technical bits and is low volume. The Habitat on the other hand is a displacement hull, far more volume with more safety features, some rails for engaging for eddy carving etc. Better for rocky bits.

Yet both are often used for "steep creeking", and I would gather river running. So given that often river trips will have elements of both, when does a plain old G4 river run become a plain old G4 creek run? Are there even any true creek runs in the UK?

Take the Mellte for example. Creek run, or river run? Better to take a creeker or a river runner like the Diesel or Remix?

On a lower scale, the upper Wye. Not exactly challenging for experience boaters, but we had a brief pin there the other day due to the lower water levels. So although people can run it in playboats, would there be any shame in taking a more rounded, less pinnable creeker on such a run instead? I know that in reality it is about whatever boat you feel like taking. But there seems to be so much crossover that it makes shortlisting boats a complete nightmare. Any one of the boats will do a good job (assuming paddler skill), so what's the choice between them?

I guess I just have an inferiority complex about being seen to use a big boat that covers up for my lack of skill!

At the moment I am thinking more along the lines of the Habitat. Mainly because of the reputation of the comfortable outfitting, and also because I think I have more chance of fitting a Watershed bag with a DSLR in the back of the Habitat than something like the Diesel or Remix. Hopefully should be having a go in a Habitat soon.

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Tom_Laws »

Semantics!

Mellte in low water is probably "Creeking" to most people but it's definately just scrapey river running with waterfalls.

People should stop getting hung up on the idea of a "creek boat" and "flat bottoms" and "double concave planing hulls" and so on, and just try a bunch of boats!

Want to stay on the surface lots, cary a bunch of kit and have a cruisy day - paddle a large boat like a Nomad/Mamba/Shiva/Burn
Want to catch a few waves and perhaps do a spin - burn/diesel/mamba
Don't mind getting pushed about a bit and maybe want to throw a few tailies? Axiom, Juice etc.


The Halibut will resurface better than the Diesel as it has a more rounded top deck and more volume.

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Poke
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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Poke »

Think that the name "creeking" stemmed from the states, where the steeper, harder rivers tended to have names, suffixed by "creek". eg. Dry Meadow Creek, Cayoosh Creek etc. Creeking I imagine was initially used to refer to running these harder runs. If you were to use the true origin of the word, no rivers over here would be true “creeking”. At the end of the day, it’s just a tidier (cooler?) way of saying “hard (or perhaps steep) river running”

There’s no shame in using a big boat on easy water. I do it all the time. And wear elbow pads to boot!

At the end of the day, most boats will be fine for most rivers. The only thing you can’t do in a river runner is high end playboating. The only thing you can’t (safely) do in a playboat is high end river running (aka. creeking).

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justin-g
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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by justin-g »

I think Poke has it right - it's a bit of a cultural expression.

In New Zealand i would define a creek as something you could only float down after a fair bit of rain - plus they normally would be called something creek. But most of our rivers are paddleable year round - so there is a clear distinction there - the steep bit comes in with the grading. So this whole idea of 'creeking' is quite a new idea as people waitied for rain or melt and information has been key as well as a lot of these were local knowledge only. If you look at the NZ guidebook it's only just starting to cover a couple of 'creeks' and concentrates on river runs.

In the UK it's a lot more blurred as most of the rivers we paddle are quite creeky - i guess you could look at the cultral element and say that Burns, Becks, Ghylls and gyyyllwwedddyy's are the local versions of steep creeks.

In Cali the creeks to me appear to be huge rivers that have a limited window of flow - so another take on the word creek - pehaps there stream is more our creek??
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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by DaveBland »

I think it's all the same thing, but "creeking" has been adopted to sound cooler and distinguish the steeper stuff from the more rapidy stuff. Sure, in N.America rivers are called "Xxxx River" or "Xxxxx Creek" which generally tends to go with the size/steepness, but even then there is a huge overlap. I suspect it could originally be to do with what runs all the time and what comes up from nothing with rain/melt?
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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Adrian Cooper »

Alameda Creek

Image

I think creek is really far to general a term. Indeed, many marshland areas have creeks all over them and they are as flat as pancakes.

Type 'creek' into Google images and you will find a huge variation.

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Canoe_princess »

I think it is hilarious when you hear people talking about going 'creeking' and then you realise that the 'creeks' they have in mind are the Etive, upper Swale, upper Tees.... must be a young lad thing :-)

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Joe L »

I can never understand why people seem to think rounder more creeky boats are not suited for uk paddling. Harder runs in the UK will almost invariably be low volume and steep in normal conditions lending themselves perfectly to people using creek boats.

Its the big volume pushy stuff we lack so I would say a Nomad or Jefe type boat would be far more suitable for UK paddling conditions than a Burn, Remix or diesel. The only reason I think people tend to go for the flatter hulled river running type designs here is trendyness and a false sense of comfort for those more used to playboats who are scared or lack the skills to paddle a proper sized boat without sharp edges.

As for paddling easier runs in bigger boats I definitely have more fun on CT in my creekboat than my playboat. More dynamic lines, big rock boofs etc rather than being annoyed about average and shallow play features trashing my playboat.

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by SimonMW »

People should stop getting hung up on the idea of a "creek boat" and "flat bottoms" and "double concave planing hulls" and so on, and just try a bunch of boats!
But Tom, I need something to procrastinate through my day with!
it's definately just scrapey river running with waterfalls.
Steep Creeking then? ;-) Joking aside, it would seem on such runs that a boat with a rounder hull would cause less problems with the rockiness?

I can definitely see why some kayakers have such a large collection of boats!

In my own mind, and going on some things I see on Vimeo etc, a steep creek would often seem to include lots of tight slots and pinning potential. Without wanting to take away from the big balls of what is being done, a lot of that stuff looks low skill but very high risk? But a high percentage of rivers it would seem open up more and would seem to be actual rapids and boulder gardens rather than dog shallow slides and waterfalls. So an actual "steep creek" so to speak would appear to be a very niche place to use a specialist boat. That's the impression I am given, for which I am fully prepared to accept I have got it totally wrong?

The Upper Dart at a low level would seem to be highly technical with a fair bit of pin potential. I only have experience of going on that river once at said level, and it did seem to be a case of continuous unrelenting concentration to thread a line through the various boulder gardens and small drops. I know it was mentioned here previously that Simon Westgarth uses an Axiom often on that run, and many others take playboats down it. The Axiom is a very long boat, and would seem to me with it's long narrow nose etc to be more at risk from pinning in such situations. Would this be fair to say or am I way off the mark?

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by morsey »

Creek boats are like Mountain Bikes, 99% of them have never been on a mountain, but they still ride just fine. :-)

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by RichW »

Mainly because of the reputation of the comfortable outfitting, and also because I think I have more chance of fitting a Watershed bag with a DSLR in the back of the Habitat
There isn't a massive gap between the cockpit rim and the top of the seat on the Habitat, which can make life a little awkward if you're not very restrained with how many extra gubbins go in the watershed bag with the SLR. Just the camera and you're all good, but start adding extra lenses and speedlites etc... and you'll possibly start having problems.

Definitely think it's the most comfortable boat I've ever paddled (at least the 80 is, and no reason the 74 should be any different). The fit on the thigh braces really set it apart for me. It can take a little getting used to if you're used to planing hulled boats with super pronounced rails but it rewards you when you start to really drive it.

If you haven't already seen, there's a good deal on a new 74 here on ebay at the moment.
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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by TheKrikkitWars »

Use the general term "canoeing" (or "boating" if you prefer), these distracting semantic issues will disappear...
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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by jmmoxon »

When on a first descent you spend more time inspecting than paddling?

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Green.media »

i don't class my self to be any kind of expert in this before i get slated!
my thinking on it was a Creek was a lower volume steeper river normally right up in the mountain we would walk into, only runnable after a good rainfall EG Alkarain, the upper tributary to the arkaig mainly rock slab with drops and slides, the kind of place you don't want to be underwater for very long or rolling either steeper gradient to the average river

if your looking to get a bigger boat i highly recommend you look at the raptor/ veloc as well

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Tom_Laws »

morsey wrote:Creek boats are like Mountain Bikes, 99% of them have never been on a mountain, but they still ride just fine. :-)

Ka-Boom. 10 Points to Morsedawg.

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by jmmoxon »

Creek   [kreek, krik]
noun
1.U.S., Canada, and Australia. a stream smaller than a river.
2.a stream or channel in a coastal marsh.
3.Chiefly Atlantic States and British. a recess or inlet in the shore of the sea.
4.an estuary.
5.British Dialect. a narrow, winding passage or hidden recess.

Steep I'd hope was self explanatory!

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Canoe_princess »

All that does sound more glam than ' barely moist rock filled ditch.'

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by SimonMW »

I like this one.
When on a first descent you spend more time inspecting than paddling?

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by morsey »

Simon it would be helpful to know what you liked and disliked about the mini mystic. I was pretty certain from before you would have a choice of three: Axiom, Z one, Funny runner (It may paddle well, but I think it looks ugly, like a tie dyed hippy shirt).

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by SimonMW »

I was pretty certain from before you would have a choice of three: Axiom, Z one, Funny runner (It may paddle well, but I think it looks ugly, like a tie dyed hippy shirt).
That was when I was after an all round boat that had some zippiness/playfulness as a do it all. Now I have become resigned to the idea that I really should have two boats. One for playfulness for taking to weirs, HPP, Cardiff etc, and one more for comfort/gear stowage/longer trips (but the dilemma is do I still go for something with a sporting edge like the Diesel).

While I sort my boats out I have been very kindly loaned the use of a Bliss Stick RAD (cheers Andy!) which will be great for practicing in the local weirs.

Okay, Mini Mystic:

Likes:
- Suited my size and weight.
- Lively performance (ie manoeuvrable).
- Fairly fast.
- Rolled very easily.
- Looked good.
- Got cool comments from strangers every time I went to a river due to Bliss Stick kudos of some kind!
- Highly configurable, yet straightforward outfitting. Loved the rotatable thigh braces.
- Great secondary stability assuming you have good balance (more on that later)!
- Pelicase holder (every boat should have one).
- That cool moulded in serpenty dragon thing.

Dislikes:
- Not much in the way of primary stability. I don't want a plank like a GTX, but the Mini Mystic virtually has no primary at all!
- Edge to edge performance was very lively which is good in some ways, but I found balance had to be exceptional off drops. It was too quick to drop an edge. Of course my lack of edge control will play a part in this.
- Got pushed around a lot in meatier water.
- Rear end edges would 'catch' easily in boily water (I actually capsized more at Cardiff sitting in the Mini Mystic in the eddies than I did in the main flow!)

The tippiness was the thing for me. On the one hand it developed my balance, but on the other it was too much. Especially when I would first get into it on a river trip and had the jitters. As friends who also tried it will attest, you are constantly micro balancing in it because the primary stability is so low. When I tried an old RPM a few weeks ago I couldn't believe how much more stable and progressive it was edge to edge compared to the Mini. And the RPM has a totally round hull!

The Mini Mystic would reward a good paddler, and probably has the performance characteristics that they are after. But I found that it was denting my confidence on some runs. I have tried a number of boats since, and not one single one of them, even the old school ones, were as tippy. It would probably be better for someone shorter and with a lower centre of gravity though.

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Jim »

In Britain, it's only a "creek" if you have to carry in to it, anything with road access is a river, and some things without road access are also rivers. If it has river in it's name, it isn't creeking. If it has one of the many other words for a mountain watercourse (except leat), it might be a creek.

Most British creeking is LOW Volume. The stuff on the videos from abroad is often HIGH Volume. Getting onto a river to get more volume doesn't make the river a creek.

Generally speaking if I want to paddle it, it isn't a "creek".

The main advantage I can see with a creek boat over a play boat (for me, everyone is different) is that it would allow me to run some drops I would normally portage with a playboat, the thing is, it's heavier than a playboat so if I still decide to portage I am at a disadvantage. Oh, and I have had enough trouble carrying playboats up rivers (hell, some probably fit my definition of creek) to have even less interest in hauling a heavier boat up them.

Get whatever boat you like!

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Strad »

When does a river run become a steep creek?
in the pub when you are trying to build bragging rights with non-kayakers....

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Dave Manby »

When the American invented it in the late 90s. Up till then we hadn't been doing anything worthwhile on this side of the pond except "scraping down piss poor rivers".

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by banzer »

Jim wrote: The stuff on the videos from abroad is often HIGH Volume. Getting onto a river to get more volume doesn't make the river a creek.
Sorry to be pedantic, but many of the the 'high sierra' creeks like Upper Cherry are pretty low volume! As are quite a few steeper runs in NZ, Chile (eg Rio Claro). But I guess there's not much that quite as low volume as the allt a Choarrain....
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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Dave Manby »

Thunder River flows into Tapeats Creek which continues as Tapeats Creek till it reaches the Colorado!

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Re: When does a river run become a steep creek?

Post by Jim »

banzer wrote:
Jim wrote: The stuff on the videos from abroad is often HIGH Volume. Getting onto a river to get more volume doesn't make the river a creek.
Sorry to be pedantic, but many of the the 'high sierra' creeks like Upper Cherry are pretty low volume! As are quite a few steeper runs in NZ, Chile (eg Rio Claro). But I guess there's not much that quite as low volume as the allt a Choarrain....
I thought I had left it open that low volume also features?

When I ran Brush Creek it was running at a similar volume to the Meig gorge on compensation and wouldn't have gone with much more (maybe 5 times?). Lower Cherry Creek where it meets the Tuolomne is a reasonable size, I didn't do that because it was running quite low and only I had my Glide, it looked on when we ran the T a few days earlier though, mid-high volume?

Also bear in mind the last paddling video I saw was Twitch 2000, things have probably changed a bit since then :-)

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