May 2000 Road Trip

For the first time in my 7 year paddling life, I took a week long roadtrip for Sierra Boating. Not that I had not done much Sierra paddling, but most of it was single river destination paddling. This is just a quick recount of the trip.

The week started with a standard Thurs Night drive up 99 and a late night into Caloma. While many people get their first taste of California Whitewater on the SF American - I had never paddled any forks of the American. So Friday Kris Soderman and I took a nice leisurely run down the Chili Bar section. At a rapid I believe was called "First Threat" we spent about 2.5 hours playing on one of the best river waves I've ever paddled in California. Then Friday night was the Teva Liquid Lifestyles party at ChiliBar complete with a screening of Wicked Liquid II, which has a really clever subtitle: "A thousand Cunning Stunts".

Saturday I hooked up with my buddy Tom Diegel who drove out from Salt Lake, and he Kris and Scott Mcquire, and I paddled down Giant gap which was a first for all of us. The flows were very good for a first time, about 1000CFS. The hike down was a litttle more pleasant than the Forks of the Kern hike, as it had more shade. At one point I let my kayak (a 7' Disco) tackle a couple switchbacks on its own before I worried about it careening off the side. The scenery of this run was unbeatable with a couple sections of river carving vertically walled "Gaps" in the canyon. The three of us returned to Caloma where we hooked up with Mike Hobbs who came up from Santa Monica for a couple days to join for paddling adventures.

We heard about a run that had a couple excellent play spots called the Bear - when we put on we soon found that the water was up and we actually ended up hitting some pretty challenging small gorges in the middle of the run. Great rapids really, but not what most were expecting. Tom, being the playboater extraordinaire, started hitting his first 3 point cartwheels, while Scotty showed us all how to Mystery move a Gliss. Scott and Kris returned to Santa Barbara, while Tom, Mike, and I decided what to do next. It rained on us all night, and we were contemplating doing Generation Gap, but in the end decided that it was something left for better weather and we headed up to the SF Yuba.


Although changing into gear in the rain was a new and not all that pleasant experience for this socal boater (let me add that I changed in the rain and snow plenty as a New England Scuba Diver!) once on the river the rain was actually pretty pleasant. We did a section from the rt49 bridge to the small town of Bridgeport. This section is the sight of an extreme race in the spring, so I knew the rapids would not be tooo gnarly, and other than one portage, they were all super fun and clean class V. The next day we were joined by good ole Rocky Contos (aka Mumbly, aka Crocky Paunchos). Mike wanted a short run so he could get a good start back and so we did the Edwards to Purdon Section, a very scenic class III-IV run (again in some light rain) and then Rocky Tom and I continued on with a pretty steep section from Purdon to the 49 bridge. This run was a notch harder than the 49 to Bridgeport section, but still almost entirely runnable (higher flows would have made it a bit more gnarly).

From there we headed North to the region of Downieville and the NF Yuba and its creeks Pauley and Lavazola. Pauley was a really beautiful creek, although Tom broke his boat on the first real drop, but we were able to wedge enough foam in the hole in the nose to get him down the rest of the way. A couple clean little falls, micro gorges, and fun slide drops in dense forest make this a great run. We thought the water was probably on the low side for Lavazola, and given the condition of Toms boat we decided to skip it. The water was also pretty low in the NF Yuba above the town, so we paddled several sections of the NF below town - highlights of these sections were the tougher parts of Rososco canyon, where Rocky once again found his magnetic attraction for undercuts and took his first swim in a while, and a super fun rapid called Maytag (or Mixmaster depending on the guidebook). With the weather now turning and the forecast and flows (Thanks Keith) looking good, we turned back to the NF American to take a stab at the Generation gap section.

We decided while setting shuttle we might as well add on the Chamberlain falls section. Since I took more pictures on this section, I have it written up Separately:

3 Days on the NF American

The trip was finished off with a pretty fun high level run down the forks where I got pretty good and pushed around in my little boat.