Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Keeping on

Thanks to the incomparable Darin Mcquoid of the newly incorporated darinmcquoid.com for this photo from Long Canyon.

Has it been six months already since the latest, cutting-edge, up-to-the minute tweet on guttersoftheearth? Yes.

Maybe it's because of the discourse surrounding the BanksMag (thebanksmag.com) article, "We came, we saw, we facebooked the shit." This commentary on the self-aggrandizing nature of publishing "exploits" made bloggers out to be exploiters. If an RSS feed fires across the internet, and no one's there to read it, does anybody care?

Maybe it's been a long, trying winter that has shaken my motivations for running rivers... The "why kayak?" question can be answered easily when the costs are shelling out for gas, spending time crammed into a car, and wearing cold wet gear. But when kayaking entails spending time away from loved ones and passing up on life's other offerings, motivation is tested to the core.

Maybe it's been a long wet winter that is still going on even in mid-May. Rivers that rarely run, either due to being de-watered by dams or having low, rain-fed watersheds, have been going off for months. The Upper Middle Cosumnes has been running too high for comfort since February. Sequoia National Park recorded their highest snow-fall since 1891.

It's probably because through it all, I've been kayaking.

New rivers to me for 2011:

Lower North Fork Cosumnes. One of the last days of December 2010 come to think of it... Will Pruitt, Darin Mcquoid and I made the first descent putting on below the Buck's Bar Gorge (alternatively called the Buck Gnar Gorge). We ran the "good-to-go gorge" and the thrilling "mini-crucible gorge."

Deer Creek into Lake Wildwood. It goes to show how loaded Cali is... Like how crazy it is that Upper Cherry sat unexplored for so long above the commonly run Cherry Creek section on the Tuolomne... And for years after that, Middle Cherry went un-completed... Anywhozles, the take-out for this run is just a few miles from the classic Bridgeport take-out on the South Yuba, the run I paddle most often. Deer Creek had been run before, but gone largely ignored for such an interesting creek.

Lower Silver Creek into the South Fork American. Thanks to Hilde for relaying the flow info! This creek was in the guidebook, but no one I knew had run it due to the massively thirsty Union Valley reservoir upstream. Classic like Credence Clearwater Revival cassette tapes.

Love's Falls of the North Yuba (bottom half at high water). I landed the namesake falls on my stern, dump-truck style. The rest was gripping. Thanks to Ben Coleman for letting me follow his wake.

Forbestown section of the South Fork Feather. Same gnarly rock as Little Grass Valley section upstream (site of GnarlFest, the world championships of kayaking). Same cool waterfalls.

Lower Jesus Maria Creek (likely first descent of this tributary of the Calaveras River). Driving around in this obscure drainage, on a day the locals claimed had brought the highest water they could remember, yielded a run on this steep but mostly class IV creek along with Alex Wolfgram and Ryan MacPhearson. Highlight was blind-bombing the ten-foot waterfall due to complacency.

Long Canyon into the Rubicon. Just when it seemed that the road-blocks of snow had dashed our hopes of running a multi-day, a frantic map session yielded a re-route into this tiny but classic stream. Just over the divide from our planned run on Screw Auger Canyon, we luckily found a perfect flow and a just-right level of challenge for the early season. We also fortuitously chose to camp on a granite ledge that would later prove to be the only real camp spot through the entire 10 mile length of the canyon.

I got to surf the Gay Wave on the North Fork American on all 3 days that it ran, one of which was a soulful after-work session with a hike-out in a hail-storm.

End of the World section of the Middle Fork American. Cool but not as cool as I was expecting based on the final stack-up that can be seen from the road. I should know by now... expectations management...

Dry Creek Falls. Watching Will Pruitt stick the upper falls was the gnarliest thing I've seen run in person. Evacuating the injured Jason Craig from the lower falls was epic but possible due to Jason's teeth-gritting fortitude through the ordeal and the many talents of the members of the team.

Send him your positive thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, and your money, as you are able.


The length of season we've already had, combined with the water content piled high and deep in the mountains, will make this summer a true marathon. There will be opportunities to run rivers that are typically hard to catch or do not run at all. Here's to health, staying motivated, and keeping on.

Thanks to the true people who are there watching your back, making you laugh, and there to affirm that this is really happening.