Tuesday, September 22, 2009
So it never fails. Every year our loving dam operators on the South Feather decide to drain Little Grass Valley Reservoir. The only decent way to do this is of course to provide a sweet manageable 300-400 cfs that kayakers are able to enjoy. On its journey through this incredibly cold, twisty, at times reminiscent of the drainage canal that they use to escape from the tyrranysaurus rex canyon, the river makes its way over the stout 20 (not 30 you cheating taxpayers, no wonder our state is so broke) foot Russell Falls. (Named after Russell Sage's less than glorious descent of it at a whopping 180 cfs). Anyhoo, about my trip down said river. Despite its source being named after the conjoined twin town to my hometown, I had never paddled this run til a week ago. Let me tell you kayak nerds out there, this run is the business. Ok ok, so I haven't done the lower part yet but I hear its quite good above 350. Anyhoo, the short sweet stretch from Little Grass Valley Reservoir to Post Creek starts off with a bang. A sweet ten footer that lands in a seam. After skirting by a hole you arrive at the entrance to Mad Dog. On my first time down this run, led by the ever intrepid Taylor Cavin, I was briefly informed of the line before scrambling to catch Taylor as he peeled out from the eddy. What happened next can only be described as a gong show. Taylor dropped off the lip at the right spot but decided that he'd have a better line piloting his craft at an inverted angle. I somewhat tentatively plopped off the lip excpecting to piton in the shallow looking landing but was relieved when it turned out to be a big flat tongue. After rolling up quickly Taylor dropped into the next slot. The lip was an uneven junky mess. The Left side looked like it dropped in a crack (It does but its runnable) and the right side had a large hump in the middle and a sweet looking boof flake on the left. I charged as hard as I could at the left flake expecting a sweet boof over the rock into the eddy. However el rio had planes diferentes. I soon found myself stern pirouetting down a convoluted slot that looked pretty ugly on the bottom right. Alright Kim and Jesse youre up haha. Apparently it was a predetermined pattern that followed next. Jesse managed to enter the ramp upright, but like taylor before him, felt it was necessary to change his point of view to better understand the rapid. Kim managed to humble all 3 of us guys by styling the heck out of it. So maybe not a complete gongshow. As our day had been dubbed the "South Fork Hangover Tour Part 1" (Part 2 to come after this weekend), The other 3 in the group deemed they had seen enough stouts the night before at the American River Fest and opted to be trail support. Sore and tired as I was the 18 ft super delayed boof looked fun so I opted for the cascada. As I hilleke'd my way off the lip I was very pleased with my decision and enjoyed the view as I pulled my knees to my chest. The next drop is a super super sick notch that slams into a cave right above a rolling 10 fter with a cave below it. Highlights that day included Kim Russell's gigantic airwheel in a Diesel 80 out of the subnotch. The notch is super awesome because you drive super hard left, boof the business, and land in a seam and go deep......mmmmm. Probably one of the most surprising and unique features of the river for the next few miles is the foliage. Since the run is usually dewatered, lush foliage grows right to the rivers edge. Big fronds are everywhere and I half expected to see a dilophosaurus stick its tongue out at me. Alright enough of that shit. The next gorge has a manky entrance but turns into a crazy bending narrow corridor. Some flatwater..a drop...boogie water...sieves...boof...sieves...log duck...curler boof (one of the best of the run despite its diminuitive stature)...arrive at Post Creek...begin hiking. As a general rule on this run, caves are on the left and sieves on the right. idk why but it always works out that way....after the waterfall of course. Below Post Creek is supposed to be fun with a uniquely dubbed "Cali" section, a nasty Gorilla drop, a sieve and some other business...oh yeah and a lot of mank, flatwater, and the takeout is cold. Hiking out at post Creek provides for a great workout slogging up switchbacks and then eventually just open forest. Also if youre feeling adventurous you can do like we did the first time and takeout right at the log instead of above it, shlep across a slippery ledge, start hiking up the wrong side of the creek, drink some unfiltered creekwater(still no word if that was a bad idea or not), and then drop your boat when your near the top. Oh wait that last one was just me haha. It must have been an amazing sight seeing my 6'2'' 200 lb frame roadrunnering down a steep hill in full kayak gear. All that said, the hikeout actually only takes about 20 min if you just keep moving and its a lot flatter than the hikeout of the South Branch of the Middle Fork of the Feather (I know cali drainage names are crazy but do a little bit of research before spreading the word). Ok Im sick of talking about this run, I just want to go paddle it. Which I will, this weekend before and after the North Feather Race. If your ever in Cali in the fall I highly reccomend paddling the South Feather. Along with Fordyce, the South Feather marks the end of the summer season and the beginning of the Fall season. And if youre reeaaal lucky you might even get the North Yuba below Bullard's Bar. And I know I stole Taylor and Kim's photos but i feel justified considering I never signed a model release form.
PS. Old Greg may drink Bailey's because its creamy, but we drink Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade when we get done routin some stouts cuz were hard and like the pink.