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San Joaquin
-Tied for First-

 Below Mammoth Pool lies a rarely run section of river known as Tied for First, named after the humorous story of its' first descent in Holbek & Stanley's classic Best Whitewater in California. This river is hands down one of the best IV-V runs in the whole state. It is a good sized riverbed with countless boulder gardens, most of pool drop nature and two half mile long rapids, plus two harder rapids thrown in for good measure. Mix that with an easy (if long) shuttle and fantastic scenery and the recipe for classic whitewater is complete with the exception of one ingredient. Water. Unfortunately this section of river rarely has water and has seen too few descents. Due to maintenance on the turbines we had water on the last weekend in October 2011.

Looking downstream from the spillway on a cold November day.

It looks like it might be tough to get to the base of the dam, but there is a road to the left of the spillway and it leads all the way to the water.

1,000cfs aka 6.9' direct from the big tube.

Daniel Brasuell and Shannamar Dewey at the gorgeous put-in gorge.

The run starts off very pool drop with nice big class IV rapids between even larger pools. Will Pruett boofs an early one.

Will Pruett and Ben Scheib read and run a fun one.

No paddlers but a look at the river character at "Grandma's House"

Several miles into the run, Ben Scheib runs a great rapid above the most dangerous rapid of the reach.

This rapid is worse than it looks, it really would like to put you in the sieve on the right. Thankfully there is also an easy portage on the right. Will Pruett.

Same rapid, pictures just can't do justice to the scenery on Tied for First.

There is a lot of class IV, a sprinkling of V and some fun little boofs in mellower sections.

A little ways below here the river drops into a half mile of non-stop class IV moves that are fantastic.

   Near the end of the run is the largest single rapid, Zero to Hero, which is big but safer than the earlier sieve rapid. Just don't boat scout too far down the left, because all the routes dead end. If you bout scout to the last eddy on the right, you'll have to do some creative attaining to portage on river left.

Will Pruett boofs into Zero to Hero.

The crux is getting a good boof and then going left of the divider rock. The right side would go too, but looks unpleasant.

Daniel Brasuell, Stefon Shelton and Logan Smith scouting Zero to Hero, it goes better than it looks.

It's a shame that portaging Zero to Hero is no easy task, it requires traversing a loose scree field and then some rope work or throw and go to get past this section.

After Zero to Hero the river eases up and it's quick time down to the take out.
Take Out: Near the small town of North Fork head up Minarets Road for ~14 miles until a right turn on 8S03. It's a steep three miles to the river - gear down. Parking and access is obvious.

Put In: Return to Minarets road and head up river 24 miles to Mammoth Pool Dam. You can just follow signs the whole way. Follow the road to the left of the spillway all the way down. You can do this whole shuttle with a regular car. ~3 miles is on good dirt road, the rest is paved. Shuttle takes about an hour and a half.

Daniel Brasuell's video of Tied for First.

If you are bold and aggressive, the river can take as little as two hours. On the other hand, if you want to scout a lot, plan on five to six hours to figure out the eight miles of quality rapids.

Flows: San Joaquin below Mammoth Pool

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