This spring has been amazing for kayaking in California. With record snow levels in Tahoe, the rivers are overflowing, and levels are great for chucking water falls. I have been fortunate to meet up with the great folks at the Stanford Kayaking Club, and have been going out on really fun excursions with them. First time out in a boat this year, I went with a new friend named Allen to the South Fork of the American River, paddling a class 4 stretch on the lower section of Kybers, and a class 3 stretch from Chile bar through the gorge. Although I was a little rusty, I had a great time. Allen and his girl friend Ruth kicked my but, paddling over 30 miles in one day. My arms felt like noodles by the end of it. We were so tired; we posted up camp that night on the side of the road. Lucky for us, the South Fork of the American is close enough to Sacramento to attract all crowds, including a group of techno rave dancers, who partied through out the night. I tried busting out my harmonica before going to sleep, but it did not go well with the techno beats in the background.
A week later, I went back to The South Fork with a huge group from the club. We fit 14 boats on the back of my friend Ben’s truck! It has got to be a record. Post a picture if you have put more boats on the back of a truck…I dare u! The first day, we got the whole crew surfing a really fun wave called first threat. We had a blast, and only had one swim.
That night we said goodbye to half the group, who went back to Stanford, and drove up north towards the Yuba River Basin with Allen, Ben, Greg and Mark. After grubbing ugly on some Mexican food, we arrived to the quaint town of grass valley, where we spent the night in an airplane hanger, owned by one of Allen’s family friends. The next day, we drove up to Downieville , home of the legendary Downiville downhill bike race, and a small town that stretches across the north Yuba river. Driving several miles on a dirt road above Downiville, we found ourselves hiking down into a steep moss covered gorge to Kayak Pauley creek. If you have ever seen the movie fern gully, you can picture us in Pauley creek. The water is super clear, there are small waterfalls spilling into the gorge and there are fairies flying around. Seriously! This class 4-5 run has a series of 10 to 15 foot pool drop waterfalls that appear around snake like bends in the river. Although there was not much water (200) CFS, this run was committing and there was not easy way out. At the end of the run, there is a 20 foot water fall, with jagged rocks protruding up in most spots. My buddy Ben points to a small 2 foot landing zone and the right side, and says, “That’s my line”. Not today, I told my self. It didn’t help that Ben also told me about one guy who got a concussion on this line several weeks earlier. None the less, Ben went up and stomped it! Judges are stoked! The following day, we ended our trip with a great run on the South Fork of the Yuba called E to P. I flipped over a couple times watching people panning for gold on the sides of the river!!
This last weekend, Ben, Andrew and I went up to the Merced River, with word of a giant big water wave near the entrance to Yosemite. After driving east for several hours, we arrived to the Merced River, which was overflowing in 90 degree weather. Unfortunately, the wave was not in, because the water was so high. After talking with some river guides, we decided to put on anyways, hoping that the water would go down enough in the evening to bring our wave back in! sure enough, after several hours putting around on the river, we arrived to the spot, and found an amazing curling wave, with a boogy boarder shreddin the nastiest turns. No really, he was really sick! This turned out to be a great afternoon, watching Ben and Andrew throw several air screws (still not sure what it is). The pictures turned out really well, and I even got a couple good spins. The next day, we bounced through the valley, watched a couple people climbing on El Cap, and went to the south fork of the Tuolumne to drop a park and huck water fall at Rainbow Pool. Although amazing, rainbow pool was not as scenic as I originally anticipated. With people drinking beers, jumping off the cliffs, and babies floating around above the waterfall (This was mad sketchy), I felt like I was at an amusement park. None the less, we got some sun, did some hucks and had a great end of our weekend! Stay posted for more kayaking stories soon!!