and trying to figure out the
With a put-in on the Eastern Slope of the Sierras, and a
the Western foothills, a six hour shuttle through Yosemite is necessary
for kayaking the Middle Fork San Joaquin. Due to common issues in a
shuttle of this magnitude we ended up with a down day in Mammoth and
got directions to some great local hot springs.
group enjoying a relaxing afternoon
telling stories of debauchery.
Thursday we also checked out the flows…we told our selves it
perfect, knowing perfectly well that it was a little high and rising.
We woke up early Friday morning and headed straight to the
full mission mode, intent on making downstream progress. Putting in
below Rainbow Falls we found ample flows and quickly made our way down
through class three drops and a log portage, eventually arriving at
Lower Falls. To quote the Seven
also said that the first rapid should look “not runnable or
barely runnable” and that the river should be almost not
float able. We were facing ample flow, easy to float on and the first
rapid was “Awesome” We found the exact same thing,
us a little nervous about our flows, but optimism prevailed and we
pushed downstream where we started the infamous portage on river right.
Carroll having an awesome time
at Lower Rainbow Falls.
Tyler, Evan and Taylor take a
break from bushwhacking through
We portaged the first several miles on river
dropping back down to pick off a rapid or two.
Bradt at the start of the good stuff in
Sturges on the same fun drop.
A true joy to run such a unique drop, Scott Ligare.
Robertson scouting downstream
while we finished running the drop. Beware the rapid below the above
pictured has caused serious pins.
The scout revealed a small mini-gorge containing a rapid with a few
boxed in holes that Charlie fired off while the rest of us walked.
Center punching a mean boxed
in hole on the San Joaquin.
portage on the right was resumed
as the river sieved out for long
Five hours since putting on, mostly portaging and
later, we arrived at a sweet slide and our first gorge.
Brown enjoying the slide above the
Taylor Robertson probing the rapid leading into the gorge.
The mini-gorge was composed of three rapids, one was a
long slide that
Tommy ran in Seven Rivers and barely managed to escape the backwash of
a pothole. We opted to portage the top on the left and seal launch in
below the pothole but above the sweet slide. I sent Taylor and Charlie
off from the seal launch with a small push, watched them style it and
got my boat setup for the seal launch.
I was so excited about running the slide that I
to push me off from the seal launch. I dropped over the slab with just
enough speed for my tail to catch. I gritted my teeth knowing this
wasn’t going to be good as I went over vertical into the fast
moving water above the slide. Resurfacing upside down I tried a quick
roll and was immediately pushed into the rock dividing the flow at the
top of the slide. I tried several more roll attempts while going around
the rock and starting down the slide, thankfully getting my boat
somewhat upright as I went over the first ledge and then went upside
down again as I accelerated down the slide. Gaining speed I quickly
rolled up on the shallow slide, right before going into a gigantic
pillow, taking a big bounce off the rock behind the pillow and going
upside down into the hole at the bottom. Thankfully it wasn’t
sticky, and after going through upside down I quickly rolled up, spun
around and finished the bottom drop of the slide. Amazingly I
didn’t even scrape a knuckle or take a hit in the whole
although it looks absolutely horrible on video.
Moore runs said slide on a subsequent trip.
The rest of the group ran the slide with no problems, and
down through the next few drops to the lip of an innocuous looking
rapid where Evan was eddied out making sure everyone went left. This
little drop is known as “Clay Wright’s
on a descent several years ago he pinned in the middle of it. From the
top it looks good down the middle, but contains an underwater sieve
that Rush briefly pinned in but thankfully came through no worse for
the wear. We stopped for lunch after this drop and knew we were making
decent time, considering this is where Clay had pinned at the end of
their second day.
Smith on the post lunch slide.
We enjoyed a nice long lunch and put back on to more sweet slides, one
that was about two hundred yards long before ending in a great ten foot
Smith and Thomas Moore enjoying some of the great read and run slides.
Kevin Smith and Shannon Carroll enter the long slide.
Here is looking back upstream at the
the corner a tributary came in
at the top of the second
and Tyler look downstream into
the deep gorge.
We tried scouting on the left and couldn’t get down
see if it all went, so Charlie and Tyler ferried across and scouted
down the right, coming back up with a big thumbs up. Going up a shelf
on the right we portaged the entrance of the gorge and dropped into the
walled out section knowing there were some big drops downstream.
years have proven that the rapid goes better than it looks, Kevin Smith
Shannon Carroll finishes the same.
Downstream the locked into the gorge continues as we run though some
sweet fifteen footer.
David Maurier in the majesty of it all.
What followed is a long serious of tough and dangerous
boulder gardens deep in a gorge, culminating with one of the best
completely walled in below boof-o-matic we saw a
line that Charlie was able to scramble out and scout on the right. A
three foot pour over led into a ten foot falls landing in a pothole
with some questionable backwash. The boil was coming up as far as
fifteen feet downstream. We were all both relieved and concerned when
Taylor opted to probe the drop, Tay stern squirted at the bottom but
was able to paddle out through the backwash. The rest of the group
bombed down through the pour over holes with varying degrees of success
but no real trouble.
Carroll exits boof-o-matic gorge.
Rapids continued and the gorge opened up on the way
down to the
confluence with the North Fork San Joaquin, where we pushed on a little
bit further until we found a nice campsite. Our map showed a large
gorge shortly after the North Fork confluence, and our map ended after
this gorge, leaving the rest of the run shrouded in mystery. We assumed
the gorge down from our campsite was the infamous Crucible. We drifted
off to sleep glad to have safely covered so much ground on day one, but
knowing we would have a lot more to deal with in the next two days.
Bradt fishing late in the