one of the most well known
of Scott Valley creeks, our beta was limited to
vague accounts of steep mank, wood, and something around twenty five
feet with a log. Perhaps the most accurate beta I've heard was
“it’s a mean little creek”. Matt Thomas
and I both
grew up in Scott Valley, but never picked up
kayaking until we were living in other areas. We grew up swimming and
creek hiking Shackelford so it was a bit of a home coming for both of
us. Matt was down visiting for Easter, flows were acceptable and we
were off to explore, expecting a fairly quick day.
Valley is a beautiful and
special place, here is the view looking
up Shackelford creek, which drains several lakes of the Marble Mountain
We quickly completed the straight forward shuttle and were
Shackelford and saw exactly what we expected, slightly low flows and
lots of mank.
Thomas on the first rapid of the
is Matt about halfway through the
same rapid, which got rockier on
the second half.
We hopped out of our boats to scout the next horizon line
water split around a large rock in the center of the creek. The right
side had some unfriendly wood, and from the top the left side looked
ok, but closer inspection showed that about eighty percent of the water
was going under the massive boulder in the center. We made a quick
river level portage on the right and continued down through multiple
river level portages and amazingly steep boulder gardens, staying
optimistic about getting some bedrock drops in. The mank became rather
mind numbing, but we made the most of it enjoying the scenery and
shrugging off the occasional horizontal pin.
Matt and I were both grinning when we saw the first bit of bedrock on
Shackelford, a nice rapid consisting of three clean drops.
running the second of three drops
in the first bedrock section.
This rapid is great, here is Matt finishing it off, one drop is
upstream around the bend and two more 4-5’ ledges were
downstream of this one.
The bedrock disappeared after these two, but the rocky
both incredibly steep and entertaining. Within a short amount of time
we were scouting a drop, which at higher flows must be the
25’ slide involving some intimidating wood. We
didn’t like the look of it and took a lunch break after the
back upstream at the slide
that has been run…
We ate quickly enjoying the California sunshine, and got
ready to run
the next rapid downstream. Looking upstream is the log drop pictured
above, and the next rapid lies directly below with a very short pool in
between, to give an idea of the gradient in here. The next drop was a
super sweet slide dropping about 25’ and through a corner, it
contained a large but easy to avoid undercut on the right.
probing the post lunch slide.
We were elated about the fun slide and in good spirits
made quick work
through more mank, then one stout mini gorge that at high flows would
have really sticky holes, but was quite chunky at lower flows. In this
section pictures started to become less of a priority as getting off
the creek before dark moved to the top of our agenda. A blurred mix of
rocks, portages, and monkey boating continued until we reached a big
horizon line and got out to scout. At first glance it looked like the
best rapid on the run, a sweet double dropping entrance into a twenty
entrance drops viewed from halfway
sweet looking twenty footer viewed
from the side.
we scouted our excitement started
to die down as we noted the
landing of the last drop, it went right into the wall only fifteen feet
downstream and had an unfriendly room on the left.
This wouldn’t have been too bad on it’s own,
the right side of the falls had a rooster tail spraying water almost
all the way across into the wall. I thought it might be possible to hit
the falls with some left to right momentum, land in the center but
facing right at the bottom and use the momentum gained to jet across
the current and escape the room. Even closer inspection of the lip made
this move really marginal, because the hole upstream of the drop fed to
the right, making it very questionable to achieve any left to right
momentum across the lip. We decided to let this one go today, at higher
flows I think the rooster would be gone and it would be a sweet drop to
Downstream the creek went back to a steep boulder choked
we laughed about Shackelfords bad attitude. We had started off the day
doing things right, scouting every drop that we couldn’t see
the bottom of, but by this time exhaustion was setting in and the
afternoon was wearing on quickly, and we were boat scouting drops and
running lines where one of us would say “it probably goes on
the right…” Thankfully everything did go, although
this lower section is just as chunky. One more nice bedrock slide was
run and we eventually made it to the take-out, surprised at how steep
and long this run is. Matt and I opted not to run the take-out falls,
an infamous little fifteen footer with a mean room of doom that has
tragically claimed the life of both kayaker Jeff
a number of local swimmers over the years.
Three pins and countless rocks later, I wouldn’t
this run a classic by any means, in Scott Valley both Upper
this one away in terms of quality drops to mank ratio, but at the same
time I know I’ll be back on it after I’ve had few
years to think about the good drops and forget the bad…these
memories will be sweeter than they seem.
Logistics: Shackelford Creek has easy shuttle logistics and the road is
generally open although occasionally washed out. From I5 North take
Yreka South/Highway 3 Exit, turn left at the bottom of the off ramp and
left at the stoplight. Continue on Highway 3 until you reach Fort
Jones, turn right on Scott River road (across from the gas station and
immediately after Ray’s Market). Drive down Scott River Road
for seven miles and make a left on Quartz Valley road. Follow the paved
road over a bridge (Scott River) and cross another bridge (Shackelford)
and for several more miles until you cross Shackelford again. After the
second crossing keep your eyes peeled for Shackelford Creek Road, a
right hand turn. Follow the road for a few miles until you cross the
creek, make a left turn on the small side road fifty yards after
crossing. Go up this little road two hundred yards and this is your
take-out at Shackelford Falls. Go back out to Shackelford Road and go
left, staying left the whole way. The road climbs above the creek but
eventually drops down, there is no official put-in, just go for where
access looks the best.
Valley scenery on the drive back
shot does it more justice, Mt
Shasta with some nice afternoon glow.