Four days into the mission we were all feeling a little tired but had a
big day ahead of us. We planned to paddle through the last of the
Middle Four, take a quick break in Tehipite Valley and push as far as
possible into the Bottom Nine.
Not the most ideal campsite.
Seymour exiting the Middle Four.
We made relatively quick work of the last few
miles of the
Middle Four, with one portage
around the Big Bad Beaver, a massive slide that has seen several
descents but none from our group.
downstream view just above
There had been forest fires raging for the last
weeks at lower
elevations, and as we came into Tehipite Valley the sky was grayed out
from the smoke, so I didn’t take any pictures during our
quick lunch break.
Valley & Dome in October, surprisingly no fall colors.
Tehipite Valley is a brief respite from the larger
If you have
the time it makes a lovely early in the day camp or layover. Once the
winds out of the valley, it’s on again for the Bottom Nine.
Seymour running an early rapid in
the Bottom Nine.
The Bottom Nine has a reputation for dishing out trouble to tired
kayakers. It’s filled with big boulder gardens full of hungry
holes and the occasional portage, all non-stop for nine miles. Ben was
on it for scouting and giving us the beta, so I rarely got out of my
boat except to portage or get a few shots.
another big boulder garden.
Most of the time I walk this one, apparently Ben Stookesberry does not.
Forrest Noble bombed away boat scouting down some big drops too
Bottom Nine: When in doubt portage right. Big boof after a seal launch.
Halfway through, we camped out looking forward to completing the Bottom
Nine and pushing through the Garlic Falls runs (once considered it a
two day run!).
Bottom Nine campsite view.
We finally got up earlier on our fifth day,
knowing it was
a long ways
to the take-out. From camp it was just like the day before, gloriously
fun boulder gardens, one after the other with a few portages thrown in.
Kelly and Eric Seymour with the
South Fork confluence in the
This section of river really isn’t that
demands a focus on downstream progress and safety to come out the other
side. At one point we thought the South Fork confluence was just around
the corner, but it didn’t take long to find out we had
another mile of significant rapids to push through. We were all glad to
see the confluence, where the Yucca Point trail
meets the river. Many groups opt to hike a steep three miles out here,
but we had chosen to push through the semi-classic eight mile Garlic
Pushing into Garlic Falls our fatigue group
show, and as we
spread out communication started to fail. After a few warm up big water
rapids, the full volume of the river narrows into a twenty foot wide
slot that drops ten to fifteen feet into a sticky hole that is commonly
run with a hard drive to the right followed by a late boof.
drifted in with no speed to a delayed boof down the middle, resulting
in some carnage.
miles down stream we finally had
everything recovered and patched
The river gradually eased as we pushed downstream, eventually turning
into a nice II-III as the sun dropped over the horizon. Splitting off
from the rest of the group Ben, Forrest and I pushed downstream just in
time to catch Chris Korbulic on his way out.
up from the water,
my beat up truck was a welcome sight.
Consummating a nearly
California paddling, the Middle Kings stands above all other runs. For
the first time in my life I thought “I am ready for a long
break from kayaking”.
I've thought the same every time every time I've finished the
Middle Kings. It's a run to satiate the whitewater appetite.
The Middle Kings is best done with
around 1,300 when you start hiking.