Knight was kind enough to get me on the flow study for Lost Creek. I
knew nothing about the run, or even where it was. I quickly learned
that Lost Creek is a small tributary of the South Fork Feather River,
and is part of a major hydroelectric system on the South Fork. Lost
Creek is also very small, and very steep, with an average gradient on
300fpm and one mile over 700fpm, and some bedrock. Overall the run was
four miles, including on the South Fork Feather.
We carpooled down to Chico on Friday night and met
the crew at
Taylor’s house, chilled for a while and went to bed with an
early start due the next morning. We arrived at the take-out around 8am
and loaded the vehicles. The power company was nice enough to shuttle
and ready to go.
The shuttle was pretty straight forward and soon enough we were there
loading our boats and wandering around. We managed to kill a surprising
amount of time at the put-in, checking out the dam and chatting.
release was 150cfs which came spraying out of this pipe below the dam.
Putting in here was an awesome experience in
was a trail
down to the base of the dam and we paddled under the water fanning out
of the release valve. Once we were all on the water the first mile went
by very quickly without much gradient loss. We knew we would be getting
it on soon, and eventually got out to scout. What was saw was a mess on
the left, with a fun center to right slide line that went.
Garringer runs the slide.
After a tiny bit of boogie water we were out of
again. The first drop looked great, a class IV lead-in to a sweet
twenty footer. We all noticed that this was where gradient dropped out
of the run.
Garringer, Taylor Robertson and
Dustin Knapp scout with a big
horizon line in the background.
Devin Knight was obviously fired up about this drop and ran it first.
Taylor Robertson follows shortly after.
While heading back up to my boat I made a huge mistake,
some rocks and took a glance at the lead in, I asked if it needed to be
scouted and he said there was really nothing to look at. At this point
I should have scouted because my boating abilities are nowhere near
Dustin’s paddling skills, but I got lazy and hopped in my
boat. I hit the first drop in the lead in and got flipped by a lateral
hole. At this point I was more then a bit worried, as the lead-in goes
straight into the falls, that is clean but very similar to Split Falls
on Fordyce with a large ledge on the bottom. Thankfully I rolled up in
time and came ripping around the corner and ran straight into the
driving right move on the waterfall and made it through clean. Whew,
what a humbling experience though. At this point I also need to
apologize for the pictures, for some reason I had my white balance set
way too high and most of the photos from the day washed out to some
The group collected on the left after the large pool,
aerial reconnaissance that this was where it was going to get steep.
The drop looked amazing, most of the group was considering it while I
looked at portage routes due to the previous humbling experience. While
scouting we ended up scouting further downstream to find out that this
large drop pushed into a thirty footer, which in turn pushed into mank
and a sixty-foot waterfall that landed on a rock. There was a eddy
below the first drop, but after that it looked extremely hard to get
into an eddy before the mandatory portage. We all started portaging
down the left, skipping this sweet rapid. Taylor and I also shared a
hate if highs and were moving cautiously on some of the steep parts,
with a few moments of early in the day “sewing
machine” leg action in the high spots.
If only there was a pool before this...
After portaging the first two drops we ferried
river right to
complete the portage around the big one on the right. This one could go
to, but pushes into the portage so hard that the ferry across was
surprisingly hard, let alone resurfacing from the falls with downstream
ferries across below the clean
exposure being off shows in
this one, but the gradient is
obviously there. The portage on this one was pleasantly easier than one
would imagine, requiring a little rope work for the second time of the
Here is looking back up at the falls with a rock centered in the
Just after this we paddled for about fifty yards before
coming into the
next portage. There was kind of a funky move on this one, you had to
blast through a small but strong pocket hole, into an eddy on the left,
then ferry across to an eddy on river right. Devin and Taylor went
first, while Dustin tried to blast straight into the eddy on the right
and to everyone’s horror got blown downstream. Dustin kept it
calm and hit another eddy on the left and climbed out to get in the
upper left eddy. I blasted into the eddy on the left, and then
proceeded to entering the current for the ferry with no speed at all.
To my alarm I caught my edge and tripped. I was only slightly relieved
to be flushing into two rocks at the bottom of the eddy. Going into the
rocks I bridged my paddle across the two rocks and to my comfort was
able to roll up in the eddy and hit the ferry across with a little more
gusto. Right after this we had a lunch break and contemplated a large
but run able drop by the lunch spot.
lunch I set safety for Taylor
and Devin, who both ran this meaty
drop, of which I wasn’t able to get shots while setting
safety at the top.
A few more manky drops we portaged, then we got to run this fun drop, a
brief respite from the sieves.
Knapp with the mega boof.
Next up after this was another huge horizon line. The
initial drop was
a somewhat clean 35’ waterfall. It had a rock in the middle
that a lot of water was piling up on, but required a right to left move
down the right hand side. I think we all liked it, but it pushed
straight into a sliding 35’ falls. We debated it for a while,
since it looked fun and the portage looked horrible. Dustin said there
was a decent portage requiring rope work down the left side, and that
it wouldn’t be too bad as long as you weren’t the
last person. We both chuckled at this, but I proceeded to make sure I
was in the middle of the group. Taylor and Devin both hung back a bit
and seriously considered the drop. I had just gotten across the first
sketchy move of the portage and had some serious sewing machine leg
going on, while I clung to a rock and lowered Dave’s boat to
him. Taylor saw this and decided to go high, accompanied by Devin. I
was already too far along to go high, and ironically I was now the last
person and knew I had to take the ropes down as I went. This was the
most intense moment of the day for me, as I had to use a different tree
to rope off of, and had to leave the rope for a while. I was clinging
to a sloping slab and had to jump 5’ down to another sloping
slab and hope I stayed on it. This took me a fair while to do. While I
was contemplating the jump Eric had chosen to portage on river right,
and became cliffed out at the top of the second drop. He eventually got
a throw rope across and sent his boat off the cliff, and followed it
shortly after. Eventually I made the jump and scrambled my boat and
butt down off the cliff, glad to be standing instead of clinging. Here
is looking back up at the double drop, we portaged left down the cliff
to where the water is splashing the rock about 8’ up from the
base of the second drop.
never looked like so much.
As the picture shows, light was starting to fade a bit,
to get our hustle on. We hustled a portage around a 30’
waterfall downstream. It could have gone, but went through a good-sized
crack and looked like you would take a hit on the way down. We were
hoping with fingers crossed that the run would turn back into the fast
boogie water we had on the mile in.
in the mess Dustin runs a
It never did clean up, we ended up portaging through huge
manky boulder gardens, and eventually took a game trail for about half
a mile downstream on river right before dropping back to river level.
Back at river level light was fading fast, and the rapids were still
terrible. We boogied down the mank anyways, with all parties wanting to
avoid a night out. I was exposed to a new style of kayaking in here;
paddling up to the side of a drop, and if it didn’t go just
sliding down the rocks beside the riverbed. I felt for my poor new
boat, but after twenty plus previous portages time and energy were key.
Downstream we saw the canyon begin to open up, and were all quite
relieved. We ran another fun, clean 15’ waterfall right above
the final portage into the South Fork Feather. At the confluence Devin,
Taylor and Dustin walked upstream to run the last big rapid on the
South Fork, and we all proceeded to run the pleasant class IV run out
to the reservoir. We paddled into the take-out around 7:30, after a
long ten-hour day on the water. I’d estimate that we portaged
about six or seven hours of the day. This run was still worth it just
to see. All parties agreed that less water (75-100cfs) would make a lot
more of the rapids in the gorge ago, but add to before and after
portages. More water would make the gorge impossible, but the paddle in
and out better. They have posted flows for this run on dreamflows
. I’d perhaps go back in
once every few years for
it’s a special place to see and be. Needless to say the area
has plentiful poison oak and fantastic scenery.