For most Americans the name Rubicon brings up
expensive four wheel drive Jeeps and the bragging rights associated
with completing a trip on the famed Rubicon Trail. "Sports" in American
parlance. Or perhaps for internationally aware it conjures images of
the more famed Rubicon River in Italy. For a select few it brings a
smile to the face as they recall miles of classic whitewater. great
camping and probably a swim or two on California's Rubicon River.
Tragically it's only
a select few, as the river
rarely has water due to extensive hydroelectric projects situated
There is convenient access to the Rubicon and the water is
a short hike down from a bridge. Two things are obvious at put-in. The
water quality is surprisingly good for a river with a hydroelectric
project. There are a lot of willows because of said hydro project.
Gareth Tate gets going
on the Rubicon.
Sections of the Rubicon
non-stop than the average pool-drop river in the Sierra Nevada, and the
first bit of whitewater is one of those sections.
Daniel Brasuell and
Diane Gaydos in the
first notable rapid.
The first long pool and some classic Rubicon scenery.
Two of our group had
already done the Rubicon earlier in the week, and
their knowledge helped us make quick time down to the first portage. At
higher flows it can be run in the right channel, but at our flow the
left side was the only option and Jonas decided to give it a go.
Jonas Grunwald, you can barely see the yellow of his boat in there.
Jonas finishes strong in the big rapid
stayed in our kayaks
until one of the more aesthetically pleasing gorges of the Rubicon
River. From previous experience Jonas and Gareth knew it was worth a
scout, because there are a couple big flushy holes and one final,
sometimes sticky hole.
Gareth Tate gets a good stroke in while Jonas Grunwald looks over his
The final hole is also the most retentive. Jonas Grunwald.
Gareth Tate squirts out of the same.
Looking back upstream at the stack up. We portaged the first very
sticky ledge and seal launched in where Daniel Brasuell is standing.
Diane Gaydos gains some speed.
Diane shows some great skills getting out of the bottom hole.
Daniel seal launches.
It's awesome and beautiful here. All smiles as everyone comes out of
the ledges in their kayak.
A few boogie rapids and we are in another gorge. This one is harder to
scout and we listen to beta, driving far right to avoid another sticky
hole; Gareth Tate.
The pace didn't let up and soon we were at another possible portage.
This one looks a lot worse in person. Jonas Grunwald.
Again and again big fun rapids, mostly read and run. As shade came into
the canyon we decided to call it a day and camped in a nice spot on the
left. Gareth Tate interviews about the day.
A lot of the in between on the Rubicon is like the stuff in the top of
the image. Braided with willows in spots, sometimes hiding good sized
Jonas Grunwald runs a tough one.
On the second day there were a few I wish I'd had warning to take
photos of. As it was, we routed hard running some big fun drops, with
some more super classic rapids coming early in the second day.
Too soon we passed the
confluence with Long Canyon, and I knew there were only a few rapids
left before take out. We came out of the trip with three swims, not an
unusual number for the Rubicon. Something about the nature of the run
creates solid hydraulics. I can say without a doubt that if the Rubicon
had flows every year, I'd be there. As it is, when it does flow,
getting on it should be a high priority, because who knows how long
you'll have to wait if you miss it. There is a
much better beta at Daniel Brasuel's A Wet