If you havn't checked it
out, read day
We had been dreaming of that gorge all night
our first campsite on the North Fork Mokelumne was the well known
second gorge. All we could see from our extended scout the night before
was a low angle slide with some steeper spots and several large holes,
all told two to three hundred yard long and only one rock in the
riverbed. Absolutely incredible. Absolutely made me nervous thinking
about it as the day’s warm up rapid.
The first thing we noticed after getting up was
were down over a foot since we had gone to bed the night before. One
waterfall was directly below where we took out to sleep, and in the
morning it didn’t look nearly as nice as it had the night
Boom, and day two starts off with no warm up. Jonas Grunwald.
Not wanting to warm up on a folding waterfall followed by sieve on the
right and boxed in hole on the left, I tend to opt for a quick warm up
by walking down the next rapid.
Good morning boof.
Photo Kevin Smith
our overnight loaded boats
would help punch through several
large holes, we gave the long rapid two thumbs up. Around the corner
was a short pool followed by a large horizon line with a rather
unsettling rooster tail that was spraying copious amounts of water. Not
wanting to stand around I quickly ran one of the most fun rapids of
my life, this long slide is just pure fun!
Garcia in one of the most amazing
sections of river in the world.
Smiles spread across all
our faces after scouting the rooster tail
horizon line. After dropping five feet on to a nearly river wide ledge
causing the large rooster tail the river slide down beautifully.
Thankfully there was a left sneak around the rooster ledge.
I’ll stop talking and let pictures do it justice.
Kevin Smith on the rooster tail slide.
Downstream we had another
large horizon line. This time the river went
left around a massive boulder and then proceeded into a steep, slanted
slide. The entrance was a bit tricky, it started off with a low angle
slide and a few holes, then required threading the needle to the right
of a large hole, and left of a sieve under the large rock. The line
wasn’t really in between these two features so much as it was
over a large pillow bouncing off the rock. Prior to 2010 this could
only be run at high water due to a log sticking out from the sieve, but
it's currently clean and goes well at lower flows too.
Tate in the entrance of "big
Once again another epic drop on Fantasy Falls, here is Chris Korbulic
on the entrance of the same.
Adam Bixby reaping the proverbial rewards, Big Boy Pants of Fantasy
Ledges holes were the
line-up for the next series of rapids, and I
probed away with a large tail stand in a ledge, prompting Chris and
Kevin to scoot left on the largest of the ledge holes. The gorge
started to open up and we switched back to making time with more
aggressive boat scouting.
This is Chris on one of the many clean bedrock drops downstream of the
second gorge. This is also my lens giving up the ghost after eight
months of abuse.
Fantasy Falls is filled with high quality boulder gardens that you
never hear about, almost all read and run filled with multi-move
goodness and the occasional scout.
This high-quality classic boof requires climbing quite high uphill onto
the rock, a line Chris styles for the shot.
Ryan Knight on the same, 2008.
After the boof we quickly portaged a log, deciding to push on until the
next scout and take a brake for lunch while scouting.
beautiful scenery on the whole run, here is a quick view from our lunch
Our goal was get past the
third gorge on day two. The infamous third
gorge is rarely run, completely boxed in, and has a tempting class IV
lead-in. This led to us scouting anything that looked boxed in,
eventually getting to a gorge containing the correct number of drops
(three) with the bottom one looking very questionable from above.
The right side looked to offer better access for returning to
level, but we had to start off with steep manzanita bushwhacking,
followed by passing boats up steep rock ledges until we hit the
plateau. Returning to river level we were surprised at the bottom rapid
of the gorge, it looked big but not too marginal…
[Returning in 2008 we ran the whole gorge, and at all flows you always
have the option of running the first two rapids and portaging the
third, Jedi Mind Melt, on the right. Jedi Mind Melt is larger that it
looks in the photograph, but surprisingly friendly.]
2008, medium flows, Ben Stookesberry running first rapid in the Jedi
Mind Melt Gorge.
The Second of Three
Ryan Knight about to get the Jedi Mind Melt.
The force is strong with Devin Knight.
Chris on top of the world.
Stoked that we had made it
past the third gorge, but feeling like we
still hadn’t covered enough ground, we decided to push on.
One quick rapid led into a long section of meadow with no gradient but
incredible vistas and rapid down river progress. Two or three miles of
meadow paddling later we came to another gorge. With the sun dropping
we determined it would be in our best interest to camp for the night
under a gigantic pine tree. Another afternoon scout revealed a walled
out gorge containing several large boulder gardens with hungry holes
and big water. This has come to be known as The Rifleman's Gorge.
Kevin marked the water level with a stick before
scout, and by the
time we finished scouting the flows had already come up six inches.
Over the next two hours of relaxation the river came up an astounding
ten inches. I have never seen a river with a daily cycle like this, my
guess would be that in two or three hours the river went from roughly
1000cfs to at least 1500cfs. As the sky darkened we headed off to an
early bed knowing we had a full day in store for us tomorrow.