Thursday, May 24, 2007

If Carlsburg did paddles…

Just imagine…
Well the guys here don’t have to…they have had two perfect paddles. The first, Lovers Leap was supposed to be a nice easy warm up. It in fact was a steep class V boulder garden with huge log jams.
Unwelcome visitor found on Simon's kayak seat
During their paddle Emma (Musgrove) and I did some biking and hiking and inspected some of the chock fest rapids (Emma is now my new found hero. Emma has actually paddled this river in past, but is now with Bambino in her belly).
We patiently waited as shuttle bunnies do at the take out, and we waited some more and some more. Finally before the sunset for the evening Si shows up a little bedraggled garbling something about the boys partying at a cabin upstream with a bunch of women.
We located them at a cabin a mile upstream still in paddling gear and barely able to walk with 10 women all swooning over them…that is till Emma and I showed up. But the gracious hostess’s, didn’t let it faze them for too long… before we knew it we were invited to stay the night.
An evening of dance off occurred Brits vs. Drunken US women…foolish how could they think they were better than us the box step works for everything!!
Copious amounts of alcohol later and it suddenly downed on us the guys could easily wake up bound, gagged and a foreseeable future of being lady toys. While the offer to stay inside seemed sensible and warm we opted to camp out in the open garden where we could all watch each others backs..
We did a head count in the morning just to make sure… all present and correct sir.

Bald Rock Canyon 6 miles of class V+, heinous portages and death defying ferry glides above atom bomb falls sure to wipe you off the face of the earth if you miss it.

The guys faced a 13 mile flat water paddle out across the lake at the end. They sent me (Cheryl) on a mission to cut short the 13 miles anyway I could. I scoured all the dirt roads most ended up with a 2.5 mile hike from the river.
My final option was the Marina…I hoped to blag some local into using his boat to pick them up. I ended up with one better my own Patio boat rented to me for the whole evening, and they were letting me drive it all by myself.
So off I toottled… I found the mouth of the river semi moored up and sat down for a nice afternoon sunbathing.

I was quickly awoken by raucous English voices. It took a minute for the guys to believe it was me. But the joy on the children’s sorry guy’s faces was amazing. Like children getting puppies for Christmas. Even better I had stocked the boat with cool drinks and food…fantastic.
We decided since we had the boat for the evening, we would drop the boats off at the car load up with BBQ stuff and spend the night on our mini cruiser boat.
A perfect night under the stars soothed to sleep by the lull of the lapping water and the gentle purr of snoring.

A couple of other sections of the South Fork American, the Kyburz & Golden Gate sections:
The South Silver completed the paddling in this area. Beautiful extreme steep granite slides, for more than a mile.
We’re now looking for the multi day Fantasy Falls and Upper Cherry Creek runs to be at good levels.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Touring California.

Since Yosemite, we have toured around a bit, picking off some easier runs. We had planned a quick trip on the Lower Tuolome, but shuttle difficulties meant it was better to hold on until we had more people and vehicles. Instead, we headed north, and ran the Chili Bar, and gorge sections of the South Fork of the American, which were ok, but the one car shuttle meant too much running and biking up large hills. Don't Californians like hitchers???

We then Stayed in Tahoe South - Casino anyone??, then cut into Nevada for the Reno Whitewater Park. We timed out visit to perfection, the Reno Riverfest had finished the previous day, so we had the place almost to ourselves.

The next day saw us paddling the North Fork of the American - Chamberlains falls section. A quality piece of class 3/4 whitewater, but a gruelling bike shuttle out of the gorge. There were other paddlers around, but unfortunately, they decided not to shuttle until I'd made it up the hill.

Whilst camping at the pu in, we met a group just taking off, who had paddled the Royal gorge, Generation Gap and Giant Gap (3 day trip). The last day was 9 miles of the royal gorge, plus the two lower sections. Reports were great level, and very stout section.

With a trip on the Lower Tuololome on our minds, we headed back down south, but with a day or so in hand, we decided to head up to Cherry lake to take a first look at Upper Cherry creek. We camped at the incredibly scenic campgroung, and boated up the lake to the end of the Upper Cherry. After we'd hiked round the massive logjam, we saw that the river was way too high.... Hope it drops soon.........

Anyway, Tomorrow we paddle the Lower T, with a run on the Cherry creek section on Saturday. Hopefully we'll meet up with everyone as expected........ Lots of UK boaters converging.... What could go wrong...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Yosemite and the Mighty Merced River

Yosemite is truly one the most beautiful US national parks we have been too.

We hit it at the right time of the year to find it reasonably quiet and see the waterfalls at their best.
While in the park we hiked up to the top of Vernal water fall. A steep but relatively easy climb. At the top some cheeky squirrel tried to climb up Simon’s leg to try and steal his fruit loop… cheeky rascal.

Throughout the park runs the Merced River.

While illegal to run in the park, it is fine outside. We scouted it from Road side and decided that From the park sign down was good to go…above that and it was serious class V+.

Cheryl put in by the El portal Garage for a less hectic paddle or so we thought.
I guess scouting from the road even if we were only 20 ft above the river didn’t show it’s true scale.

The river provided some excellent continuous class 4+ for a mile or so before mellowing out slightly… we did wonder why all the other kayakers were putting on 5 miles downstream.

Finally a Yosemite bear attacked and broke into our Vehicle and decided to join us on our journey, meet Growler.. (an official Yosemite black bear)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A longer than planned stay in Kernville

So we are still in Kernville, Astro our faithful van has broken down and is in the garage, hopefully to be reunited with us tomorrow morning (fingers crossed).

We were fortunate enough to have somewhere to stay whilst Astro is incapacited, Thanks Alex, and whilst it is a low water year, the Forks of the Kern is a classic whitewater run, just upstream of town.

During our extended stay, we ran the Forks section a couple of times, together with some other sections of the Kern, and also did some amazing mountain biking.

The Forks of the Kern is a Class 4/5 run, usually 14 miles long. We cut a bit off by hiking in about mid way, and cutting out some of the flatter bits. This is a remote wilderness area, and we didn’t see anyone else on this section.

Dry meadow creek drops in about two miles from the end of the run. What people don’t tell you about Dry meadow is the heinous boat carrying that is needed. Levels were too low to be worth running, but we hiked up. I was glad I didn’t carry my boat up there….. The last slide of Dry meadow creek provided some amusement without too much boat carrying.

The Forks section has many long lass 4 rapids, and a couple of short harder class 5’s. It makes for a long day after the shuttle and hike in.

Taking a break from boating, we broke in our new mountain bikes on the ‘Just Outstanding’ trail. Starting up in the clouds at 6800 ft, we decended on some superlative singletrack through dense manzanita tunnels to 2500 ft. There was snow in the trees at the top!!! And about 80’F at the bottom.

Hopefully Astro will be well again tomorrow, and we will be leaving Kernville, and heading north. Thanks to everyone who made our stay here so enjoyable!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

California – pure granite heaven

First stop in California was Kernville, home of the Kern River. We met up with out friend Alex who was kind enough to show us around for a few days.

First river was a warm up on Brush Creek, a short steep series of slides and falls, which drops into the Kern River. Levels were low, but a lot of fun was had. This was followed by the Limestone section of the Kern. We finished the day with some play on the Kern through Kernville.
The next day we hooked up with more locals (Eric and Rebecca from Kern River Brewery!, plus others) and headed up to the Kaweah drainage, and the Sequoia National Park. Rumor had it that Clover Creek was in condition right now, which had unbelievably great granite slides and drops. As we drove up through the National park, up past 6000 ft, we passed through the giant trees forest, where enormous Sequoia trees soared into the sky all around us.

A short hike brought us to river, and all out doubts were erased as we cast our eyes on a slice of Californian perfection; good water levels and beautiful slides that went on forever. Unfortunately the trail ended at the take out, so we continued our hike up the granite bedrock alongside the creek.

A mile or so hike was all time and energy permitted, but gave us numerous excellent stretches around the odd portage. All went well, and several hours later we were back at the cars.

We camped in the national park alongside the Kaweah river, and the following day Cheryl, Simon and Alex ran a mellow class 4 section on the Kaweah down to Three rivers, while the others headed back to town.