Lee Cr. Gauge Interpretations


The gauge at Short should be over 5.0 for a run.  The gauge is 30+ miles
downstream of the whitewater run, so it isn't always the best indicator.
The gauge can be interpreted as follows (from my experience):

< 5.0   Can squeek down the creek if it's above 4.0, but it isn't much
        fun. El-Horrendo is a baby surf hole from 4.0 to 5.0.  Only worth
        it if you have nothing to do and you're already there.  Better yet
        go to the Frog.
5.0-6.0 A good minimum for boating is 5.0.  Waves start appearing above
        El Horrendo.  Buck and Flush is a nice surf with 180 potential.
        Still pretty bony at the Surfing Ledges.
6.0-7.5 Things are starting to pick up.  Lots of small waves.  El-Horrendo
        is a bony surf.  Surfing Ledges are good for 180's.  Buck and Flush
        will give you a good ride and the waves below it are surfable,
        but a flip on them is very shallow.
7.5-9.0 Nice waves above El-Horrendo.  180's and 360's in the medium
        sized hole in the Surfing Ledges.  Buck and Flush will try to
        invite you for an extended stay.  The hole is getting mean and
        nasty.  The waves below are about as good as they get.  Pop-up
        and 360 potential on the one breaking right below the hole.
9.0-12  Big water on Lee.  Medium sized waves abound, but some eddies
        wash out.  El-Horrendo is a wide (but still fairly weak) hole.
        Enders are possible on river right side of Surfing Ledges and
        the 360 hole on river left is not good.  Buck and Flush hole is
        fairly awe inspiring.  You can get out, but you better have a good
        plan and be able to hold your breath.  The waves below are fast
        and big.  Very cool playing at this level, but have a solid roll.
        Clear Cr. to the East and Cedar Cr. to the South are both
        probably good runs, maybe better than Lee.
12-18   Huge waves (5 to 7 feet) appear above El-Horrendo.  El-Horrendo
        is a pair of 5 foot breaking waves about 200 feet wide.  Surfing
        ledge is washed out.  Buck and Flush hole washes out completely
        around 15 or so, but the waves are FAST and extend around the
        corner below.  This is floodstage paddling, so expect to defend
        yourself against trees, etc. comming down the rapids.  A screw
        up at this level will mean massive loss of gear and/or
        breathing ability.  Clear Cr. and Cedar Cr. are cooking!  Fall Cr.
        is also probably up, as is Blackburn, and if rain was very recent,  
        Hart Cr. might be going
18+     A lot of stuff starts to wash out, but Surfing Ledges reincarnate
        as a huge wave-hole on river right (where the big shelf used
        to be.  You will have to fight for your turn in the hole
        with all of the trees and debris comming down the river.  The
        current is 15+ mph and there is nowhere to stop.  A swim would
        probably continue to the Mississipi R.  Video taken of the creek
        at this level looks like the Grand Canyon with lots of trees.
        Scary stuff!  If you want some hair at this level, go to Hart Cr.
        (class IV+) or Fall Cr. (which is getting very high and will have
        a lot of class III).

Hope this helps.

- Fish 



I've been studying the Baron Fork at Dutch Mills guage for a while now and I think it may make a much more accurate indicator of high water conditions on Lee Cr. than the Lee at Short gauge. The Baron Fork headwaters are near the Fall Cr. headwaters and I've been using it to gauge Fall Cr. for a while now. The correlation seems to go like this: Baron Fork Lee Cr. Fall Cr. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 2.5 4.0 to 5.0 (low) way too low 3.0 5.0 to 6.0 (opt) too low 3.5 6.0 to 7.0 (opt) maybe if it's comming up 4.0 7.0 to 9.0 (opt-high) minimal or better 5.0 10.0 to 12.0 (high) optimal 6.0+ 15.0+ (flood) cooking Also check out this graph from the USGS page demonstrating how the two gauges correlate: Source: http://ar4darlrk.er.usgs.gov/rt-cgi/gen_tbl_pg?page=1 As you can see, the Baron Fork gauge responds almost instantly to rainfall, and the Lee at Short gauge will lag behind it by 6 to 8 hours! It may not correspond as well to Lee Cr. because of localized rain and because it only reflects a small part of the Lee watershed. But it certainly corresponds well with Fall Cr. If Baron Fork is 4.0 and coming up, Fall Cr. is running for sure and Lee will be at least near optimal. It's also the closest and fastest responding gauge for Hart Cr. and maybe Clear Cr. If rain is widespread, it might reflect West Fork of Cedar pretty well too (which I finally got to run last week - a super play run). - Fish