California Trip Report / Edit

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    • #6051
      • Total Posts: 313

      Terry, Levi, Josh and I were fortunate enough to pull together an extended trip to California to check out some flows!    Thought I would share some of the highlights;

      We departed STL on May 1st and began making our way out west.  While it is too early in the season for most of the Colorado area runs to be going, we made a quick stop at Gore Canyon to get in some warm up paddling and get out of the car for a bit!

      Terry and I had run Gore a few times, but it was neat showing Levi and Josh down the run for their first times and kicking the trip off on a strong note!

      From there, we proceeded to make the long haul across CO, UT, NV and into the Tahoe Area.     After a full days drive, we woke up not but 30 minutes from our first California Classic; The South Yuba.       Eager to get on with the paddling, we opted to tackled the 49 to Bridgeport Section of the S. Yuba.     This run proved to be a remote, action packed, scout everything kind of run.    After paddling away from the Put In Bridge, I can recall working our way down river for close to 30 minutes only to turn around and see that we were still within a stones-throw of the Put In.  It was around this time I think the reality of what a long, stressful and intense day it was going to be on the river without a guide.    After several hours of non-stop scouting, and 7 miles of technical whitewater behind us, we had completed our first run in California.

      We stayed in the area, camping right along the beautiful North Yuba outside of Downieville.     We jumped on the N. Yuba for a day run and found it to be a really neat, big water fluffy feel.

      The following day, before leaving the Downieville area, we took a locals advice and decided to locate “Pauley Creek.” Having not heard of this creek before, and no other prior knowledge of this run, I can’t say we were all super pumped to find it, hike in, and run it.    Much to our surprise, we found the Put In easier than ever, and gave the creek a run for its money.    It did not take long before it was clear that we had stumbled upon a hidden gem.   The creek was full of fun drops, chutes, and fun pristine rapids.   To end things off, the very last rapid is Pauley Falls, a boney, but runnable 20’er that soon thereafter dumps into the N. Yuba in town

      Having bagged three runs in the Downieville area, we were eager to get on with it and headed south to find the infamous South Silver Creek.  For those unfamiliar with this creek, the lure is that it is arguable “the steepest runnable creek, with the least amount of ‘sketch factor’ on the continent.  With this being said, we all were excited, yet very nervous to see it in person.     Needless to say, when we hiked in to the run, what we found was absolutely horrifying.  The water levels were bumping, creating whitewater like its hard to imagine.  Disheartened with the high water, we paddled the Kyburz section of the S. Fork American.   From the road this run appeared to be a harmless, rather tame few miles;     However, it turned out to be a great 6 or 7 mile section of fast, western style water!

      After the S. Fork American, we began making our way further south, down toward Yosemite nat’l Park.  The plan in Yosemite was to buck up and complete our first overnight, self support kayak trip.     Armed solely with a recommendation, Levi and I found ourselves shoving gear in the back of our boats at a bridge crossing the South Fork of the Merced.    With 24 miles of whitewater in between our Put In and Take out, it appeared it was going to be a ‘no brainer, in and out trip.

      We put on around 2 p.m., making our way past the 3 miles of class III boogie and began tapping into some of the more complex rapids and boulder gardens.    The river bed was steep, so Levi and I found ourselves leapfrogging down stream;  He’d get out and scout the horizon, relay instructions to me, we’d run it, then so on…

      After about 3.5 hours of paddling, and an overall comfortable day on the water, we found a great campsite and set up along the banks for the night.   Excited about how the first “day” went, we knew we hadn’t gone far and would have some distance to cover the following day.

      Upon waking up, the mood was good around the campsite between Levi and I.   I think deep in our heads we both felt like we had paddled some of the more difficult, challenging water the day before, and were in for a cake-walk on day 2…

      …As mother nature would have it, the river had come up roughly 12 – 18 inches over night….

      We pout on at about 9 am on day 2 and we blessed with a 100 yard section of boogie water;  This would be the last “boogy” water we would see for 9 or 10 hours.

      The river quickly let us know that it was full and ready to stomp the offline paddler.   Having doubled in flow, the already technical boulder gardens became warzones;  We were doing great, scouting and blasting our way down the run until I got complacent.   Levi and I scouted a long, complex rapid to what we thought was the entirity of it.  We put in and started hammering our way downstream.  After a few hundred yards of whiteout action, the river whipped around another bend and into another bigwater boulder garden without a break.  Careening down stream, I managed to find a big nasty ledgehole that was eagerly awaiting me….swwiiiiimmmmm

      The thrasing, to swim was humbling, stealing not only my confidence, but my nerve for the day…    The day went on much like that; Hour after hour of paddling a hundred yards, scouting, etc.    11 1/2 hours later, we finally made it out of the gorge and to the car at roughly 8:30 p.m.    A long, humbling day it was.

      The next day, we paddled a fluffy section of the Merced inside of the park, along the main road.   It was a great run enjoyed by all!

      After Yosemite, we headed south towards Kings Canyon Nat’l park to paddle some of the Kaweah drainage.         Levi was able pull some strings and got us in touch with the California Legend, Darin MqQuiod to show us down the goods!   Day one in that area consisted of more man-eating boulder gardens and smooth granite fun!   Darin was an incredibly hospitable guide and directed us to a local favorite, Clover Creek.

      It was our last day of the trip and we took Darin’ advice and headed deep into the park to see if we could seek out Clover Creek.   Upon finding it and hiking in, we knew we were in for a real treat!  We scouted the entirety of the run for a few hours, trying to summon up the courage to fire it up.

      The top consists of multiple “TeaCup” Ledges, leading into some high velocity slides.     After looking at it too long, we opted not to fire up the top stuff, but got our feet wet on the lower slides.  The plan was to stay one more night, come back early in the a.m. and conquer the beast top to bottom when we were feeling fresh.

      The following day, we did just that!     We hiked back up to the run, set safety in necessary spots, and let the fun begin.   Clover creek proved to be everything we were in search of in California; Slidy, fast, clean and fun!    We all made our way down the run injury free and began the looonnnngggg drive back to St. Louis.

      Below is a clip I put together of the first few days of the trip;  River’s consist of South Yuba, North Yuba and Pauley Creek!

      And, here is to my favorite run of the trip;   Clover Creek


      • This topic was modified 7 years, 11 months ago by CJW4D.
    • #6054
      • Total Posts: 8

      Outstanding Chris! Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us. I always enjoy your posts!

    • #6062
      • Total Posts: 69

      Great trip report.  The video is awesome.  Thanks for posting.

    • #6068
      • Total Posts: 557

      Great report. King’s Canyon is an awesome place, bet you hated to have to leave!

      • This reply was modified 7 years, 11 months ago by McChuck. Reason: When we are arguing, and Di says "FINE!". I know that it is indeed NOT fine....and I will pay later
    • #6071
      • Total Posts: 413

      You lucky dogs you! Great report and glad you got home safe. That Clover creek looks even more fun than the Tellico to me. I’ll make it there eventually.

    • #6076
      • Total Posts: 49

      Fantastic trip! Thanks for posting. Living vicariously….


    • #6090
      Levi Rhodes
      • Total Posts: 125

      Another video of the same trip with some slow mo and more off the water goofiness.  Enjoy.


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