Friday, June 26, 2009

Kayaking on a bottled-water label

Macy Burnham balancing his boat for a moment's rest.

Up and over Piute Pass, in the headwaters of the South San Joaquin, lies a creek that is fed by glaciers. Looking out over the Moraine as I cleared the pass, an unusual altitude headache throbbing and gusts of wind tugging at the kayak on my back, a single prosaic thought occupied my mind: what are we doing here? We were exploring a creek, going trans-Sierra ,East side to the West side (no-diggity), starting at the source, taking a gamble, and signing-up for who-knows-what. It was an awesome, cold, spectacularly-scenic adventure shared in good company. Enjoy the show.

Piute Creek from Taylor Cavin on Vimeo.

Flow Study v. Yuba Gap

Time slows down on the hourglass slide. Chris Korbulic enjoys it.

The Diesel 80 boofs well, resurfaces predictably...

...and is easy to roll!

Darin Mcquoid has a laugh over one of those moments where someone sees their line, goes for it, and eats it!

After the first rapid on Yuba Gap, all I could think was, "That was the coolest rapid I've ever run!" That it has easy access(Take the "Yuba Gap" exit off I-80), big,classy rapids(think East Kaweah size with Hospital Rock class), and a richter-factor that will push past what you may want all goes to show: recreational releases could give California incredible resources. I can easily say this was the coolest flow-study I've hopped on because it was also the coolest single-day stretch of river I've ever run. I say let's all fill-out some paperwork, and see what we can make off with here. Un-scientific statistic: I reckon that 30% of the 100 V+ kayakers in California made time to capitalize on this run during a 3-day window.

Photos 2,3 & 4- Chris Korbulic.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

a vertical mile, 5,280 smiles

Lower Silver Fork stack-up, Thomas Moore

Over a three day weekend I decided to gear up for the coming vacation of California kayaking by going California kayaking. First up was 2009 closing ceremonies on the S F American as Jared and Thomas and I ran a one-day trifecta of Lower Silver Fork, Lover's Leap, and South Silver at low-ish flows. Hightlight: running all of Lower Silver Fork blind except for the car-wash/bruised falls set, which we portaged. California kayaking lesson: Keep that momentum rolling.

Portaging over the Lover's Leap logjam, site of the 2010 lumberjack games.

The next day, I met up with Carleton, Willy, and the SE crew of Daniel, Brooks, and Matthias to freeze our faces off at high elevation on Fordyce Creek. I got us good and lost on the shuttle partly because the cloud cover was hanging like the Fog of War and we couldn't really see far enough to read the topography, partly because duh. Then it snowed. We debated whether to put on, then ran the creek in a 3 hour race against hypothermia. I had to laugh for our South Eastern friends because they have their Lie (the Green always runs), and in California we have ours (it's sunny all the time). Highlight: remembering how fun it is to remember rapids. California kayaking lesson: Do not be discouraged by logistical hiccups. They are to be expected until we find a cure for ADHD.Brohelm throws down some torso-rotation on "rotator cuff"

The day after that, Willy had the sharp idea to put on a river that is still semi-steep, but a lot lower elevation, Bald Rock Canyon of the M Feather. It is all about being in that place, and it was sweet. Highlight: exploring caves in the Atom Bomb Falls neighborhood. California kayaking lesson: Gotta pay to play, in this case either with dollars to the boat man who can take you accross the reservoir, or with thigh-presses to hike out of the canyon (we chose the latter). To cap off the weekend, I ate what I am sure is the biggest burrito I have ever eaten.
Brohelm says that Curtain Falls could be the best boof in California.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lower Mill Creek: a true gutter

Katrina Skarda thinks this run is a hoot.

Mill Creek is a stream that cuts through an ancient lava flow that spilled off the flank of Mount Lassen. This gives the river a surreal character, because you can imagine how the liquid rock flowed and formed as you float down the water which in turn carved and shaped the rock. While the whitewater itself is not spectacular (volcanic rock is better for removing foot calluses than slip-sliding kayaks), the river canyon is nothing short of wild. In many places Mill Creek is less than a boat-length wide because the water has made quick work of cutting down into the soft conglomerated rock. Trip highlights included: Seeing a bear lumbering along on the shuttle road, raw-dawging water from Brita-quality side-streams (river right= good to go, river left = cow town), 3 liters of chardonnay-in-a-bag stowed in my boat, and angry beavers whose tail-slaps told us to "recognize!" as we paddled into the outskirts of Las Molinas. Mill Creek!

Bryant Burkhardt used to be my boss! Now he runs the show @

Katrina, Bryant and Matt make like the blue angels, minus the sonic booms.

Try to guess which way the creek is flowing.