San Joaquin drainage.
Coming off Upper
reunited with Chris
, and started the drive
back to Oakhurst, where we had been a week before on the Upper
Fork San Joaquin missions.
The Fish Creek trailhead is the same used for the
Postpile run, as is the take-out. This meant that we would have to deal
with the dreaded, six-seven hour one-way shuttle. With only one car,
and an unregistered motorcycle, we knew we would have to get creative.
Scouring our maps, we found that from Mammoth Pool we could drive about
thirty miles on dirt roads, then hike six miles and be back at the Devil’s
Postpile National Monument
put-in. Depending on the speed of the shuttle hiker, it looked to be
faster than the drive too!
my ’74 Suzuki, food and
liquor at Mammoth Pool, we
embarked on another long and tedious shuttle through Yosemite, arriving
Mammoth with time to finish our food shopping and then wait until the
mandatory shuttle closed.
Rainbow Falls is likely the worst gauge possible. The water spreads out
over the lip over the 101 foot falls, and it is high up in the drainage
so it constitutes only 25% of the final flow. As of 2010
there is a
gauge at the
Devi's Postpile, but no one
knows what the ideal range is yet.
started our hike early in the
morning, loaded for six days and the
flows at Rainbow Falls looked identical to my previous years San
Joaquin trip, perfect.
With perfect looking flows it was hard to walk
we’d miss the best part of the Devil’s Postpile
run; boof-o-matic gorge. Inspired by the spirit of exploration, we
pushed into the nine miles of hiking on Fish Creek trail.
author “enjoying” the
Fish Creek hike.
On the first three miles we would be paralleling
Middle Fork San
Joaquin, but one ridge over. Two miles into the trek, Chris’s
back started acting up on him. It seemed that six descents of Cherry
Bomb Gorge last week were taking their toll. After careful
consideration, Chris decided to hike back out and hopefully rest up
enough for the Middle Kings. Ben
I weren’t stoked to be down to two for a major first descent,
but we didn’t want to give up on the cusp.
Several miles into the hike the ridge separating
Joaquin dropped away, and we hiked to the edge, enjoying a high above
view over boof-a-matic gorge.
exit to boof-o-matic on the Middle
Fork San Joaquin, with Fish
Creek coming in downstream on the left.
I couldn’t help but wish we were down in
climbed away from the San Joaquin and toiled over the ridge to Fish
Creek. On our way to Fish Creek Ben spotted this incredible tributary.
not hiking that
far” – me
about the steep tributary.
Perhaps we were spoiled by our recent Upper
North Fork San Joaquin
but six miles from the confluence, Fish Creek had nothing to do with
Stookesberry, probably reminded of
his Colorado roots.
It was steep, but oh so not really clean, for
end. The benefit
that we didn’t have to portage, or spend too much time
eddying out in the nonstop boulder garden.
like back home.
Hampered by only one short wood portage, the miles
by, until we finally hit bedrock with a nice class IV.
Stookesberry class IV aficionado.
Ben grabbed this shot of me on the same rapid from
upstream. Note the
beautiful meadow to the right. After hiking so far and boating around
five miles, we decided it was fitting to call it an early day above
what we hoped would be the rewards for all our work. The camp site was
one of my favorites of the year.
Whereas the camp site was beautiful, sleep was not on the same page for
both of us. Benjamin says: beware of ants and more importantly,
habanero hot dogs. To relieve the pain, Fish Creek started off day two
with a sweet ten
Stookesberry gratified by the
first of Fish Creek’s goods.
Creek turns into pool drop
goodness, scenery quality all the way
off waterfalls and landing in
it was relatively pool-drop, Ben
Stookesberry on the other side of
Warmed up by the slides, Ben and I were stoked to
big three move
rapid that looked pretty good. It started with a four foot boof, then a
big fold followed by a final slide into a decent hole. Overall the
potential for fun was high and carnage moderate, so I gave her a go and
was followed by Ben.
Stookesberry nailing the initial
Boofing into the fold.
didn’t matter, melt down!
the fold and finishing strong.
Fired up by such a good drop, Ben and I pushed downstream, and while
the scenery remained top notch the river mellowed out too soon and we
were on the Middle Fork San Joaquin.
To be honest the most memorable thing about our
was how scary and epic the paddle out on the Middle
Fork San Joaquin
Flows were absolutely too high, and we were relieved to escape the
Crucible by the skin of our teeth. Exhausted when we finally hit
Mammoth Pool after four days, we finished against a strong headwind and
unfriendly boaters, only too glad to see the boat ramp at the end.