Thanks to an unusually large snow pack this spring, we
managed to get a late season run in on Mill Creek, with flows of 450cfs
at Los Molinos. Mill Creek is a 30 mile class V mostly wilderness run
that is listed on both Ca Creeking and in Holbeck & Stanley's
Whitewater of California. It's a two day run and we were doing it at
pretty low flows. I met Jon at his house in Redding the night before
and we got a nice early start the next day, with a quick drive to the
shuttle, part of which is 20 miles on a dirt road...ugh. As a highlight
of the shuttle drive, we did see a bear that ran down the road for
quite a ways, and took off once Jon managed to find his camera.We got
an unusually early start and got on the river about 11:00, and started
off with a nice brisk pace, stopping only to pick up random gear other
campers and kayakers had lost, and adjusting to paddling a loaded boat.
The crossing seems to service a cabin that seems to be inhabited and
way, way off the grid. Far enough off the grid I wasn't interested in
meeting the locals. (and I grew up way out in the sticks)
is also some cool antique
I'm not a huge high desert fan, but the scenery on this run was
beautiful and has caves all over in the hills.
Jonas Grunwald on a second trip years later.
Camping earlier on our second run.
Out of camp the run is fun and entertaining. Shannamar Dewey
this point I was
starting to get really thirsty, having only brought a bottle filter for
getting water. Mill Creek is volcanic and has a lot of silt in it, with
a color similar to the Klamath, something I wasn't interested in
putting my filter through the rigors of, so I started looking for side
streams. The next several miles went fast, and Jon and I decided to
camp at the next flat spot that had water. We eventually got out to
check out some caves and relax and make a new game plan, as we were
many miles into the run, it was 5:30 and there were no side creeks
coming in at all.
I believe we were right above "Deep Gorge" at this point, as this rapid
was just beyond where we relaxed and snacked. I gave Jon hand signals
and he ran this one, probably wishing he had scouted due to my poor
decided to camp at the
next creek or paddle all 30 miles, whichever came first. Another long
stretch of river and we came to the portage, Dead Man's Narrows. At
this point we weren't sure how far along the run we were, and missed
the long but safe portage on river left, so we ran the entrance and
eddied out for the somewhat sketchy river right portage. The final
launch from this portage shoves you towards a undercut a lot harder
then it looks like.
The portage is around mile 23, with a few drops and many
very narrow spots after it. Beware of one longer rapid with a pin spot
in the middle, in the top of this image.
Brasuell enjoying some incredible canyons.
The surprise ledge at mile 25 gave me a
really good surprise. By this point I was tired and feeling lazy
(excuses) and I thought it was boat scout able on river right. Somehow
assumed the right wall against the bank would not be undercut (unlike
every other rapid on this run) and that there would be an eddy on river
right. Unfortunately the eddy did not exist, and the right side had
moving water that pushed into an undercut rock in the right 1/3 of the
river, and rebounded into the undercut bank. I debated swimming on the
way in thinking I might have a better chance of flushing, but decided
to stay in my boat...and went right through and came out upright with a
small bruise on my elbow, and a huge grin of relief on my face. If I
had scouted it I would have never run that side. Post scare the river
mellowed out and at low flows we found all the low head dams to be
runnable, and boogied on down to the takeout at 9:00pm, followed by a
long drive back to the put-in.
arrived at Ponderosa Road crossing
around 11:30 that night.
Creek is high on my list of things to do again, but the generally short
flow window and long dirt roads have kept me away. If you do manage to
get it, the experience is worth the effort. Daniel
has the best detailed beta at A Wet