Saturday, June 30, 2007

Been, Seal and Dune it all.

Much to our dismay Oregon has lacked the Whitewater froth we have been searching for.
Instead we decided to head up the Oregon coast and maybe seek out some tidal surf.
With a free guide in our hand our first stop was a huge heard of elk grazing at the side of the road. A few them tried to disguise themselves as bushes in the long grass..
Traveling along the recommend route of 101(which also just happens to be a Tsunami evac area) Florence was our first port of civilization a small old port town, that has seen better days if it weren’t for constant tourists buying up tat and taffy.
In search of huge Sand dunes (that are supposed to be apparent) we came across a lovely beachy area where the seas and dunes spread for miles (reminded me a lot of Roan head at home in the UK). One quick dip of the foot in the water quickly dispersed any ideas we had of going surfing…Artic Baltic!!
We woke the next morning to down pours, and a small glimmer of hope that rivers might just come up…but NO!!.
Looking for indoor activities we arrived at the Sea lion Cave, the biggest sea cave in the world and home to 100’s of seal and seal lions. This amazing insight into colonies of seals and sea lions was interesting to say the least. Imagine a stinky fish market filled with 100 adolescent boys all trying to fart and out burp each other, yes it is exactly like that. The Size of the Sea lions is amazing and the bulls can easily weigh up to a ton.
Oregon’s Aquarium was supposed to provide our next shelter instead we spent most of it outside watching the sea otters be fed and swim about their tank. These adorable animals are delightful to watch. Just seeing the otters was worth the entrance fee. But other attractions included a giant Octopus, a massive shark tank, which include two divers while we were there. A huge amount of very large crabs and a touch pool where you could touch starfish.
Our final indoor activity was Tilimook cheese factory… all I can say it ain’t as good as Cabot!!
We are now in Portland Oregon, update to follow…

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

North California to Southern Oregon

Over the past week we have traveled through northern California and into Southern Oregon. After spending two great months in California, it was finally time to move on, but not before paddling a couple of classic runs in Northern California.

First up was the Burnt Range gorge on the Trinity river. I’d (Simon) paddled this on my previous trip to California, and only remembered the three class 5 ‘Burnt ranch falls rapids’. Well it turns out that there are many other good class 4 drops that I’d forgotten about.

The next day we paddled the Cal Salmon, another run I’d previously paddled. Unfortunately the levels were pretty low on this one. Probably about as low as you’d ever want to paddle it. (or maybe even lower). Plenty of rocky rapids, but some really good gorge sections, overall made it worth paddling. I was biking back up the run to get the van, and had made it half way up, before realizing that the van keys were still in my PFD at the takeout…. DOH

The Cal Salmon was to be our last Californian river, as we headed into Oregon. We had arranged to meet the Jeanne Skalka, the sister of one of our Vermont friends Chris, for a paddle on the Umpqua river. This was a scenic class 3 run with some fun playspots. We had a great day, with Cheryl and Jeanne sharing many women’s kit and boat ideas.

We also bumped into Dave and Sharon again on the Umpqua.
A plan was set to paddled the North Fork of the Rogue the next day, which we had seen on the way to the Umpqua. The Takilma gorge section of the Rogue turned out to be a great run. Walled in and committing, with a number of good class 4 rapids.

Taking a day off paddling we visited the nearby Crater lake, which is possibly one of the most scenic places we’ve ever been to. An enormous collapsed volcano containing a deep blue lake in the crater. Just the thing for a Dr Evil hidden base, except it is a national park.
A short stop at the scenic Toketee falls completed the day.

We’re now exploring more of Oregon before heading to the White and Little White Salmon rivers and Portland.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Upper Cherry the return

After a few days in San Jose, we were eager to boat again. Marc was especially eager to paddle Upper Cherry. How could we refuse....

Water levels were a concern, but we hoped that the soaring temperatures woudl bring the levels up from our last run. But hopefully not too high.

We headed up to Cherry Lake, and sent Kev on a reconnaissance run over to the bottom drops. A long time later he returned with a tale of woe, low levels - not worth it. Despite Kevs warnings, Marc and I had already decided we would paddle anyway, and a plan B was formed. Hike directly into Cherry Bomb, and bypass all the scrapey stuff at the top.

Hiking with your boat is not fun. Don't believe anyone who says it is....

Plan B seemed to make sense, until we were hiking and boat dragging through thick snake infested jungle down to the river. All in all it took longer to get to the halfway point than it would to have gone to the top. I only saw one rattlesnake on the hike down, but I’m sure there were many more, just inches from my legs as we trashed through the thick undergrowth….

The hike over the top to Cherry bomb gorge

Spot the pro-boater

We were joined by a random US paddler Dieter, in the parking lot, but he turned out to be a nice chap… We also ran into Shannon Caroll, who had hiked solo into Cherry bomb also…. We hit up Cherry bomb the next evening, after a few hours rest from the arduous hike in. We needn’t have worried about the levels, they were absolutely superb for the gorges…

Cherry Bomb gorge from up high

Dieter dropping cherry bomb - blurry but you get the general idea...

Awesome teacup falls above camp

The next day, We ran down from flintstone camp to the take out, Shannon proved why she’s one of the worlds best women boaters by showing us all up and running Kiwi in a pocked and Big bear falls while we “provided safety”

Kev and Shannon on the waterfall

Kev on Double pothole

Shannon dropping into Kiwi in a pocket

Shannon on Big bear falls

Weather being warmer than last time (i.e. it wasn’t snowing, just 90’F temps) there were a lot of hikers and even some adventurous tubers on the river. We didn’t stick around to see if they survived….

Cheryl was hiking down the bank, and had a much harder time than we did on her descent of the river.

Another grueling hike in, but it was so worth it for the amazing granite gorges that Upper Cherry holds in store.

Running the final drops out to the lake

Kev and Marc departed back for San Jose, Cheryl and I are heading back to Reno for some play before heading north for the Cal Salmon and Klamath, then Oregon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

San Jose

We have spent the last few days staying with Friends Marc and Emma in San Jose. While there we visited San Francisco and were lucky to have clear enough weather to enjoy views of the bay... an apparent rarity.
We also visited the birthplace of O'neil surf wear, Santa Cruz... a beautiful beach resort south of San Jose and a most definitely surfer town.
On our day off from doing tourist things we hit the local water park, unfortunately at the gates they refused us entrance with our kayaks. Instead we doned our swimwear and sent our selves down numerous raging water slides.

Pictures can be found on our pictures link

Today Fri 15th: back in Groveland!! Marc's Upper Cherry is being popped. The temps are in late 90's at 10 am in the morning. We are in for a grueling day hiking 13 miles to the put in of the river.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Classic Upper Cherry Creek

After our taster on the West Cherry Creek, it was only a matter of time, and water levels dropping before we would hit the fabled Upper Cherry. Much to Chris’s relief, water levels remained high until he and Andy departed, and it was a reduced team of Si, Kev, and Young Max who set out. Kev had paddled the river before, and had warned that the 12 mile hike in was probably the most grueling thing he had ever done. He wasn’t wrong.

The night before, a cold front moved in, so we packed warm. Drysuits, Down jackets etc, all added to the weight that had to be lugged along. And its mostly uphill….. Oh, it also started snowing on the way. We had planned to split the hike in half, but due to Max’s work commitments we decided to do it all in a day.

Much huffing and puffing, and back strain later, we finally reached the river. The skies cleared, and we collapsed for the night. (A very cold night). At camp, we were visted by cute fluffy Marmots... They looked good enough to eat after that hike.....
By morning, skies were blue, and river levels seemed low. We met up with Josh and Matias at the put in, and headed out onto the river. The first couple of miles of slides were pretty scrapey, but soon the river gorged up and we were into classic granite drops and slots.

Mid Afternoon we took out and inspected the Cherry Bomb gorges. And miraculously they all looked good. After all the LVM pre-inspection video watching, it actually looked paddleable! Both Kev and Josh had been here before, but both had passed on the gorges due to levels. This time though, things were different and very manageable. (But still very scarey!)

Cherry Bomb Falls (from above)

Runout from Cherry Bomb Falls

An hour later we were at Camp, having all successfully notched our first runs of Upper Cherry Gorge, and Cherry Bomb gorge. The teacup section afterwards was a relaxing warm down in comparison. We were all relieved to have paddled it that evening rather than leaving it to the morning….

Max (intentional Wavewheel, or something) - teacups above camp

The next day, runs of the Waterfall, double pothole, and the second set of teacups went smoothly, despite some backwards double pothole runs.

After these gorged sections, the river spread out some, and alternated between being scrapey, and gorged up. That was the price to pay for the right levels for Cherry Bomb….

After the West Cherry Confluence, we paddled the Red Gorge, and the runout rapids. Only incidents were me breaking a paddle, and Matias spending a short time in a cave……

A short trip across the lake, and we were done…..The cold weather had made for an interesting hike, but had dropped levels perfectly to allow a full run of Upper Cherry gorges. Perhaps we could have done with a little more water for some of the other bits, but I wouldn’t have wanted too much more for a first run of Cherry Bomb Gorge.

A day later, my back still hurts from the hike in……

Yosemite Wilderness

The temps dropped and the flurry of snow flakes I (Cheryl) decided not to hike Cherry Creek and instead go off on my own adventure.

My first hike was in to the back wilderness of Yosemite to Lake Eleanor. A short 5 mile round hike, I didn't meet a single person except a ranger hiking into his post in Miguel medows. The unkempt trail meant hoardes of beautiful flowers and wildlife, unlike the animals in the main Yosmite park they run away on my appraoch.

Day two I went to Hetchy hetch Reservoir in Yosemite a complete contrast to the day before lots of tourists all doing the same hike to Wapama falls. Hetchy Hetch is breathtakingly beautiful. The water is aquamarine blue and clear as glass.

More Pictures available on our Webshots Page... Use the Our Pictures link to the right of the page to take you to the main page.