Monday, November 17, 2008
(photo sequence: Sean Manchester, pictured below)
Leaves change, days get shorter. Flows drop, work picks up. Fall has made us parched beggars dependent on the faucets randomly opened up here and there.
There were the South Feather days of boofing down that classic dark gutter lined with Indian Rhubarb. The way the seasons worked out this year made for brilliant fall colors and not so bone-chilling weather. Taylor Robertson decided that the waterfall right in the middle of its first gorge would be a whole lot cooler as a rapid than a portage and started a charge of exercising the demons one huck at a time. Following hot on the heels of Taylor and his homeboys, my last run saw me at the bottom of the first gorge about 3 minutes after launching into the uninterrupted flow.
The North Yuba (pictured above) has been a welcome surprise witness in the kayaking court while the Yuba County Water Agency tinkers with the tubes and has no choice but to gush the water down the river to keep their contracts with the dams downstream. It is a beautiful place once one floats away from the seventy-story dam looming over the put in like the Gotham skyline, bristling with cameras, antennas, and the equipage of Homeland Security.
This was also the scene of the most hilarious turnaround in public relations ever after several weeks of hassling and stink-eyes from the dam personnel. After a friendly chat with Steve the dam operator, he radioed his people up top to leave a gate open so we could drive down to the river instead of hiking in. Our group was paddling mid-week on Veteran's Day and apparently the flow had been dropped down a little after the weekend. Steve was apologetic, "If we'd known you were coming we'd have left it up!" Steve, I just need your address, and I'll make sure you get that basket of mini-muffins!
I'd rather pray for whitewater than beg for it, so that is why my favorite day of boating out of the fall was when nature delivered and Thomas Moore and I got fresh tracks on the South Yuba, catching a spike of the first natural flow we'd boated on since the Kings. No pictures were taken, and few eddies were caught as we bombed down, Thomas leading like a hound dog sniffing out boofs he'd buried in his memory. Driving home through the lingering patches of the storm that had brought the water, I saw a double-wide rainbow. Not two concentric rainbows, but one that had a more full spectrum than any I'd ever seen. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green was only the half-way point of this mackin' 'bow. That's where Blue, Indigo, Violet took over and the spent wavelengths gasped their last with a glow of White like the northern lights on the inside of the arch. I'll take it as an indicator of lots of rain and snow and good things to come.
It's not trespassing if you're a guest.