The beauty of California seems to surprise me year after year. Sometimes in life to find adventure and fun, the easiest way is to utilize what is close by. For me I have been fortunate to come from such a great place and have made a good community around the rivers of California. This Spring I started out early in March in search of whitewater in what most people call a “Bad or low water year”. No matter how bad or low snow pack is, it is always good to see friends and there is always some gem around you just need to search it out.
From the return of the Tour de Sueños in Mexico, I spent about 2 weeks with the family in San Diego with visits to La Casa en Baja . I got to spend some time with the Bigness and get some work done at the house and enjoy the surf as well. Eager to get back in the kayak I headed North to meet up with Chris Madden. On the drive north I made a stop at the Kaweah and my buddy Johnny came down from Kernville to boat and give me some new gear I purchased. This season I invested in some new gear that cost me a bit, but well worth the investments. Stoked on the new Kokatat dry suit, paddle and the Shiva-the yellow beast.
It was good to meet up with Chris who was quite fired up and had been doing some good winter boating. He gave me a chance for a bit of a warm-up since I was feeling a bit rusty from no kayaking since December. We hung around for a few days at the Madden compound enjoying some quality time with Patso and Tim, Chris’s parents. The first run before we went for our first little mission was laps on 49 to Bridgeport on the South Yuba and a Gorge run on the local South Fork American. It was good to get on the water again and be paddle with friends.
The first mission from the Madden compound was Spring break for Chris’s brother, Drew on the Tuolumne. We headed out in the afternoon without Drew and met up with Thomas Moore in Groveland and rallied up to the put-in of Cherry Creek proper to drop a car and head up the road to hike into Middle Cherry which starts a few miles upstream from the put-in to Cherry Creek. The run had some quality drops on it and went through some beautiful country. The following days consisted of Cherry Creek laps and then finished up with meeting up with Drew and doing a super chorbel 3 day self support kayak trip on the main Tuolumne.
No sooner than a few hours after getting off the water was Chris pacing the parking lot with cell phone in hand and making plans for the next river drainage. The next stop was to meet up with some All Outdoors folks who where taking some rafts up to the Middle feather for a 3 day river trip with some really good people. This section known as “Devils Canyon”, will be a place that I hopefully return to many more years. The river is loaded with tons of class IV rapids and multiple class V rapids as well. Chris and myself ran out in front of the rafts reading and running many class IV rapids and getting out to scout some of the bigger ones as well.
When we got to take out we went for a short walk to check out the South Branch, which is a tributary coming in just below take-out. On our last night on the Middle Feather it had rained throughout the night so the river came up about 800cfs and also caused the tributaries in the area to come up as well. At take-out, South Branch looked liked a good flow, so we made out next stop the put-in to South Branch. We spent 2 days running the steep creek with good flows on our first day and a bit lower on the second. Both the Middle Feather and South Branch were PFD’s (personal first descents) for myself and held some ultra classics drops and rapids.
The Sueños continued the trip to the North Coast to do some boating on the Trinity and the Cal Salmon area. We drove up to the Cal Salmon after getting a lap in on Burnt Ranch and the night brought a good constant downpour of rain. A friend of ours, Evan, claimed that he had a buddy who had a house near take out and we would not have to camp outside in the rain. Well like a many good plans on road trips, things just tend to change. So there we where at 10:30pm at Jimmy’s house with no Jimmy around and still plenty of rain coming down. We left to head up to the put-in of the Nordhiemer section on the Cal Salmon to camp. When we arrived we where stoked to see a camp of rafters with tarps and easy-up shelters set up with a raging fire and hooting wildly.
Some of the best things about the river are the people you meet along the way. We met an amazing group of people and hung at there camp for the next few days. They had all the good set-up for a multi-day raft trip; tarps, kitchen, tables, chairs and beers for all. It was a great 3 day weekend hanging with these guys and getting laps on the Cal Salmon at some juicy flows.
The return of the North Coast trip brought us back to Lotus for a few days before I parted ways with Chris to go to the Kern for a wedding and some chorbel time with friends. I met up with Becca and enjoyed a good celebration for Tom and Amanda’s wedding then ended up sticking around and teaching guide school for 4 days on the Kern with KRO. It was good to be back in the homeland and see some of my favorite people and enjoy a beautiful river even though it was a bit on the low side.
After a good time on the Kern, Becca and myself headed up to Groveland and packed some gear to head into upper cherry creek for a few days of camping in the backcountry. The hike was amazing and was really good to camp out at Flinstone camp for a couple days of sunshine and chilling. Its amazing that for how many people live in California there are still places where you can go and be all alone.
From hiking Becca continued on her own little suenos trip up North and I was back to kayaking. I met up with Chris again and we made the drive south to the Kaweahs with Kiwi Gordy and met up with a crew of paddles down south. We spent a few days at Three Rivers, boating something everyday and getting our boof on. I really do love the Kaweah drainage and it is probably some of my favorite boating around. From the Kaweahs we headed North to Dinkey Creek which is a super steep tributary to the Kings and consist of multiple huge slides and waterfalls, epic overnighter. To start off May and celebrate my birthday we did a 2 day trip on the South Merced and I finished up back here in Groveland. Now I am hanging around and getting into the working scene with All Outdoors up here on the Tuolumne, and have got my first few trips. Spring Season has been great and my love for California continues to grow. Life is Good.
|Curt on the perfect 20ft @ Dinkey Creek|
|Chill out time below Nikki Kelleys @ Dinkey Creek|
|Chris @ South Silver|
|Thomas @ South Silver|
|Gordy @ East Fork Kaweah|
|Hiking toward Flinstone camp @ Upper Cherry Creek|