Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nirvana?

The Devil's Canyon run on the Middle Fork of the Feather River is often referred to as the best multi-day kayak run in California (and thus possibly the world). While that is clearly a subjective claim and everyone will have their own personal favorite, I think it is likely that the Middle Feather will top my list for quite a while. Before the season started I put this on my calendar for Memorial Day weekend and then told a few good friends to add it to theirs, just hoping the flows and schedules would work out. We ended up with perfect flows (probably the last of the year), everyone I had hoped to come made it (and a few more friends as well), and everything came together for an awesome trip.

Not to say everything was perfect. We had a group of 9 which made logistics a little harder and things moved a little slower. We had two broken boats, one broken helmet (and sore head and back to go with it), I got seriously worked in a hole and swam (for the second time in as many weeks) and we made it off the water on the third day with about five minutes of partial daylight to spare. Not to mention the midnight shuttle. But all that just adds to the story. Now I can't wait to get back and do it again...

Some video and pictures.
video

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Big Water


While it's not the Grand Canyon or Futaleafu, the peak runoff brings high water to the rivers of California. After a day on the San Jaoquin's Horseshoe Bend I hit the Forks of the Kern - one of my favorites. The level was about 2,600 cfs - the highest I've ever done it. It was a bit bouncy but great fun.
video

The next day I decided to take a break from my little kayak and manned the bow of an oar raft. My buddy Gilbert has been rafting in California since the 70's and he wanted to get a little practice in before a trip to Alaska. We ran the class V Thunder Run and it was a blast!

Here are some more pictures and video from the weekend.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overnighter

Two days on the water, one night in camp, but somehow it's much more than that. An overnighter is greater than the sum of its parts. The chance to escape from the real world for a short period of time and live in a world of your own creation is something special that must be savored. It turns paddling into a much greater experience.

This past weekend I paddled Mill Creek off Mt. Lassen. After a two hour shuttle ride we hit the water where I managed to crack my boat, I swam out of an undercut, we did an unnecessary two hour portage where I suffered from heat exhaustion and we barely finished before dark. It was the best trip of season! Part of it was the great paddling, cool scenery and camping out in the wilderness. But mostly it was because I was with great friends - that's what makes for the best trips.

More pictures and high quality video.

video

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Slab Creek - Again!

The Slab Creek section on the South Fork American River almost never has water in it. It is an eight mile stretch between two reservoirs used for power generation. Only when Mother Nature's bounty of rain is too much for the concrete walls to contain does water spill over and return to the natural river bed. So far this year that has occurred only twice and I have had the good fortune and good timing to get on it both times.

Last time (in March) was a two man exploratory run during heavy rains that turned into a high water adventure. More on the stressful side of fun. This time was an eight person group enjoying low flows in nice weather. A very different experience but both were great runs of a beautiful stretch of river. A shame it doesn't exist more frequently.

Helmet cam footage can be found here.