The Subway: Left Fork North Creek
Last Candition: May 5, 2011
Took 6 of us via Russel Gulch, 6 1/2hrs from car to car. Very cold water at 1st and 2nd swimmers. Bowling Ball section was ice-cold as well. However, it looks like another log has been added to that section as the clearance is much lower. Now there are 2 logs to dodge. You can either use the 3rd floating log to climb on top of the chockstone and jump in) or we would recommend going feet-first through it. Great temps to hike in after the subway proper, which probably made our trip extra fast. Oh, there is no log at the subway shower as it has been properly noted, but groups have been either jumping across (dumb idea for noobs and inexperienced) but the better option is to rappel as we saw a few folks do.
Did the canyon from top to bottom with a group of seven; took us 7.5 hrs from upper trailhead to lower trailhead.
The mandatory swims are freezing and wetsuits are highly recommended! The swim under the bowling ball has a log on the down canyon side which makes for a tight but doable swim through. The springs come in right after and are surprisingly warm.
The log bridge at the last rap is washed away, so the new anchors on the right side should be used.
Hiked top down - Water in the canyon was perfect temp - probably didn't need the neoprene socks I wore.
The final rappel has a new log across the gap over the waterfall that a group hauled up. It barely long enough to be touching on both sides, and is quite flexible and smallish in diameter. I did not test it by crossing and instead rappelled on the new anchors on the right (RDC).
Standard Approach. Water was plenty cold. I recommend full suits. There is a TON of sand downstream of keyhole falls and is filling some and completely occluding a number of potholes in the money section. Unfortunate. Still very pretty and worthwhile. Anchors and webbing in good shape.
Encountered a VERY large rattle snake along the trail. Keep your eyes open.
No flow until the main spring at the under arch swim. We took wetsuits varying from 3's to 5's. Caught up to a group at keyhole falls wearing no suits and they got through but were very cold in the water section.
Ran with Das Boot Entrance. Water was cold, would definitely wear wet suits. Took them off after subway section. Hike out is a bare, lots of lost trails. All anchors in good shape. All webbing at the logs for the water fall room at the subway had been removed due to recent accident at that location. Two newbs to this canyon with lots of photography = 12 hours car to car.
Lots of water. Did this with Das Boot. Lots of people. Raps in good shape. Creek bed trail is completely washed out from the flooding. Lots of snakes and toads. This hike is overrated but I'll still rate it a 4.
Two weeks after the canyon flashed, it has a very different look. Most potholes filled with sand. Drops are shorter. Many parts of the lower trail washed out. You will have to walk the river out more. Top half above subway is faster to hike and lower half is longer. Lots of debris but still a ton of fun.
Flashed on sunday. went through thursday, the canyon was fine to hike through. warm waters, no wetsuits, however the flash had sent a mass amount of sand through the canyon. large water holes and section that used to be swims are now just sandy trails. The "track" before the subway is no longer visible as it is filled with sand. very different looking subway right now.
SIDE NOTE QUESTION::
when the canyon flashes like this, how long until the sand usually washes out and it returns to "normal" conditions???
Great trip for the 4 of us. Took us 6 1/2 hrs to do the Boot and subway from car to car.
The first pools were still muddy from the recent rainstorms, however at the 1st "rap" it is clear from there on out. Subway was very full! Great time! No wetsuits and it was good, but if it's cloudy, bring a wetsuit. Anchors in good shape.
Canyon was flowing throughout, down from both Das Boot and Russell Gulch, thanks to the big storms over the last few days. Water was very muddy, slow going because you couldn't see anything of what you were hiking in. Canyon obviously full of water, went in 4:3 wetsuits and were very comfortable, spent lots of time lounging around in pools and enjoying ourselves. Anchors fine. No crystal clear pools but fun in its own way.
Canyon is dry until the first normal pool. Plenty of cold water still to play in after that. We kept our 7mm suits on from Das Boot which is an overkill for subway but makes the water that much more fun. Ran into 2 groups with no wetsuits and they got through fine, but were definitely cold even on a 100 degree day. If you don't mind packing it out, a wetsuit makes it more enjoyable
The Subway is AWESOME right now. It's full of clean clear water. The pools are longer and deeper than years past.
We wore 7/5 wetsuits, 5mm boots and neo gloves (we did Das Boot earlier) and it was a spectacular romp!
You CAN swim under the log jammed in Keyhole Falls (we all did). If you don't wear a wetsuit it will really suck.
I would highly recommend a 4/3 or 3/2 full wetsuit until the weather gets really hot.
Combo'd with Das Boot. 12 hrs for six of us taking our sweet time. Ditched wetsuits after the last rap and were happy we did.
We combo'd w/ Das boot. In 4/3 suits with vest and comfortable. Once in Subway, water warms up nicely, went with just vest on top, full bottom. More than comfortable on sunny day. Nice flow, tons of frogs out. 8hrs RT for the 4 of us. An epic as always.
We combo'd this with Das Boot for a great day. We seen very few people. Water is still flowing and cold. I would still recommend full suits at least 3/2 or 4/3. Some of the girls still used 7mm suits because of the amount of cold water. 5mm socks still needed and gloves a plus. The water has went down enough that you can squeeze/swim under the log at the bowling ball instead of going over or around. Always a great time in the subway. Took us about 12 hours to combo Das Boot and Subway with 6 through Das Boot and 12 through Subway
Awesome lighting. about 2cfs of flow coming from Das Boot, zero from Russell. There is a log tangled with the Bowling Ball - we backed up and went around. TJ Cottam said the climb up over the log is not bad (but he's a strong young kid). New Bolt anchor at the first rappel not really in the best place for rapping down the face.
we dropped into the subway via the last rap in das boot. no snow on approach but heavy flow through the DB exit and throughout most constrictions in the sub. the bowling alley rap presented some unanticipated excitement with a choprock-style log jam placed under the chockstone and a pushy current sending us into the strainer. water flow at keyhole falls also encouraged a body-belay to the anchors. 4/3 full with 3/2 shorty on top kept us happy, all anchors clean, lovely day.
Came in from Das Boot. There were a few short mandatory swims and some wading. The water in the subway was slightly flowing and also chilly. At one point before the subway there is a logjam under some chockstones, but we were able to squeeze under the log without dunking our heads in the water. To get from the upper subway to the lower subway there is a fixed rope hanging from a long log jammed just past the waterfall room. This can be used as a hand line. I was able to cliff jump from the upper ledge into one of the pools (to get into the lower subway) as it was about 6 feet deep. I have a lot of experience with cliff jumping, but I would not recommend it to everybody. The hike out had many optional swims along the way that helped cool us of since we stayed in our wetsuits.
Great conditions still. Russell Gulch still has a tiny flow. BILLIONS of Ferns near the Wildcat Trailhead. Very cool.
Wetsuits were definitely not needed in our group. But the women were happy they brought it...
Group of 9 took us from 9:00am till 9pm. 3 of the 6 noobs were incredibly slow. Don't go if you are really out of shape or endurance is low, otherwise you'll be hiking out in the dark...