Fordyce Creek is a wonderful run surrounded by
intentoned but outdated
and hard to find water
flows. Of course his beta is far better
than mine for shuttle. Flows are best for hardshells from 300-500.
Thanks to American
, Fordyce is
back after a several year hiatus from
scheduled releases. This run is a wonderful introduction to High Sierra
boating, and a nice introduction to class IV-V if someone in the group
knows the run well. Scenery and rapids similar to many of the classics,
without committing gorges or a remote location.
Portaging is always fairly easy and generally consists of "granite
sidewalks" with some bush whacking. Getting to the put in varies from
year to year, depending on how recently PG&E has had to do work
the dam at Fordyce Lake. As of 2009 the road was rough, requiring a
four-wheel drive vehicle. (better in 2010) Taylor
squeezed his Subaru Forrester up the road, but higher clearance is
advised, I bottomed out my trusty '89 Nissan truck.
long seven miles of rough roads
leads to rewarding views at the put-in
Ten minutes or so of hiking and you are at the heli-pad and gauging
station, aka the get in
Just around the corner is a log across the river, avoidable on the
left, which sets you up just right for Eraserhead, the first and
longest slide of the run.
A nice train down Eraserhead.
Eraserhead is a exciting stretch
of IV-IV+ that links together at higher flows. Eventually it mellows
out into a large pool above Atomic Piton, which can easily be portaged
on either side.
Atomic Piton is the most rarely run rapid of Fordyce Creek, due to its
namesake, a shallow ledge at the bottom.
Center boofs over the ledge
Taylor Cavin on the same.
boogie on Fordyce downstream
of Atomic Piton.
This nice rapid leads into
Bishop's Balcony, which is generally run on the far right, and
occasionally on the tougher left line. Bishop's Balcony goes into a fun
mini gorge that class IV boaters will want to scout and or portage from
above Bishop's on the left.
Exiting Bishop's mini gorge, the river takes a steep bend to the right
and maintains class IV character right to the lip of Rotator Cuff, a
clean but potentially sticky slide to vertical fall. Eddy, scout and or
portage on the left.
Taylor Cavin demonstrates a nice boof over Rotator Cuff.
Once past Rotator Cuff the gradient eases off, with a few nice drops
mixed between several miles of meandering meadows.
Dewey scouting one of the
larger meadow rapids, "Big
Squeeze", free of logs in 2010.
Taylor Cavin getting left on "Where's Barry", also wood free as of 2010.
A mix of rapids and flats lead to Insanity Falls aka Bad Seed, commonly
portaged on the right. This drop is run more often than Atomic Piton
and goes better than it looks.
Flat water maintains with a few rapids for the next mile or so, until
the pace picks up with some fun slides leading into Fordyce Falls aka
In Your Face. A class IV entrance leads to a wide and fun 10' falls
that should be finished on the left.
Dewey on the entrance.
Shannamar Dewey enjoys the final plunge.
Just a few rapids lead into Split Falls, which can be portaged on the
right but has proven to be cleaner than it looks and is normally run.
Robertson enjoying one of the
best on Fordyce
Showing how split falls got it's name. Jesse
Bending through a meadow with nice pool drop rapids, the river picks up
gradient again as it plunges over "The Hole that Ate the Donner Party".
Terrible at low flows, the line opens up beautifully at 500cfs.
left on the hole that ate
Knobs lies below Donner, a solid class V rapid that can be portaged on
either side, or run with a strong middle to left move. The run out from
Knobs leads into Just a Big Class IV, a fun slide before the mank
legend runs a legend, Deiter King
exits Just a Big IV.
Devin Knight on the same.
Just a Big IV marks the end of the good stuff, and the river turns into
a manky boulder garden until reaching Spaulding Lake. It can all be
run, or portaged via a trail on the left.
From the confluence it's a two mile paddling across the lake to the
done with a great day on
A bonus to the summer weekend release is close by climbing for those
who find it to be too mellow of a day...