Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back at it on BRG

It's good to be paddling again. And on something of consequence this time. I headed north to get on the only class V river still running in California: the Burnt Ranch Gorge on the Trinity River. It's not exactly the hardest of class V runs (it may be the easiest, in fact), but it's still a solid run at a decent flow. Twice the flow of the only other time I've done the run five years ago.

A picture of me for a change
Considering my lack of paddling in general, my recent experience on class V runs (a paddle to my face on a portage, a hike out after a friend breaking his boat, not to mention the Rubicon epic of last year), and that there were only two of us, this definitely had the potential for disaster. But I'm happy to say that this day (almost) everything went smoothly.

I drove up in the morning and we put on by 1pm. After a mellow warm up section we hit the first significant rapid. We snuck it last time at low flows but this time we took the heart of it. I got flipped in the hole at the bottom but quickly flushed and rolled up. Sometimes the best thing that can happen is an early flip - it settles you down, you remember your roll works fine, and it's not so bad getting your face wet.

The finish of #1, vertical log and all
The heart of the run are Burnt Ranch Falls numbers 1, 2, and 3. None are actually falls, but each is a multi-step class V rapid. We scouted #1 and it went fine. We scouted #2 and it went fine. We scouted #3 and decided to walk. The bottom hole looked a little sticky and the lead in was a little junky. But the portage is on steeply sloped granite and our only injury of the day was when I fell and landed hard on my butt. So I decided it was safer to run the rapid and it went fine.

After that I was more relaxed. It felt at home being on a river again, leading down rapids I barely remembered, enjoying some lovely scenery, watching the salmon jump, the eagles fly, and the otters play. Now if only there were some more rivers running...

The next day we drove out to the coast just checking out the area. I got in a little photography practice (still loving my Nex-5n) and then had dinner with friends in Arcata before heading home. It's good to be back.

And here's a quick edit of the video:

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