Monday, September 1, 2008

The For-De-Shay Creek

I believe that the stream was named by Quebecois fur traders exploring the region by canoe and therefore would take a French pronunciation of the spelling "Fordyce." After a parching August (with even the Oasis of Cherry Creek down to 50% flow for part of the month), it was great to have those f-ing dams do us at least a lick of good right at the end. With 400 12-inch, by 12 inch, by 12 inch cubes of water going from Fordyce Reservoir down Fordyce creek, every second, this flow study provided ample opportunity to study the flow as one floated over, through, and with it. With the crap-ton of dam release classics such as the Gauley, Green, and Youghigheny on the East Coast, there is no reason that California, which by comparison is dammed to tarnation, can't have an awesome Fall draw-down season as well. It seems the key for getting releases such as this one is the effort of motivated individuals in the paddling community who stay involved throughout the lengthy dam relicensing process.
Perhaps fired-up by the jeepers doing their rowdy stream-crossings, exhaust pipes a-bubblin, our group of five went ahead and fired up this rapid. Lizzy puts a little English on it.

Consistent Chris Korbulic hits the 7-10 split. This rapid looked a lot less picturesque from river level, with the big rectangle slab on river right kicking up a fan that could cool a Pharaoh.

Jared Johnson punches his boof-stroke like karate chop through brick. This rapid was the only one I walked back up for, a super smooth granite waterfall with many lines to be had.

Afternoon huckfest as two groups glob together and a whole bunch of people drop the Split Falls, bam-bam-bam-bam-bam. This is me melting it like the Wicked Witch of the West (photo: David Maurier).
Death-style shot: This was one of many standing trunks of trees drowned by Spaulding Reservoir and exposed by the low water level. Fishing line snagged up this Crawdad leaving his exoskeleton to bleach in the sun.

Floating there, with the stratified sand rings around the reservoir, the sight of the Yuba dumping in through a sculpted gorge, and my friends paddling off to the boat-ramp, I reflected on something. The Fordyce was the first California River I paddled over two years ago; I had not paddled it since. I remembered how I'd been impressed, by the exposed granite peppered with pines, by the attention getting rapids (portages for me), the meandering flats through tall forest. Most of all I remember putting on kind-of late, taking out in the dark, and feeling very spent from the scale of kayaking in the Sierra. That first glimpse was a fair indicator of the potential to be found in these mountains. I find myself amazed again and again at what we have here.

Special note: also on the creek this same day were Mike Fentress and Walt Garms who first descended Fordyce 25 years ago. To have that kind of a tenure on class V whitewater is bad-ass as far as I'm concerned.

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