Monday, November 26, 2007

Feather River, California, USA

I was very excited about my first trip to the South Fork Feather. I had just recently come off the North Fork on the Tobin and Lobin sections. The Lobin had been one of the most intense stretches of river I had ever experienced. Lobin was only about a mile... maybe a little longer, but it was continuous whitewater with many boos in the 3-6 foot range, with lots of gnarly consequences. From what I had heard, the North Fork of the Feather was a very burly run. I was pretty nervous, but I was with my close friend Wolf who is the definition of gnarl.

We didn't leave Auburn until 9 pm or so. Wolf said it would be a two hour drive to take-out. The nice thing about the North Fork of the Feather is that take-out is very hard to find. It is not marked in anyway. After driving for about three or so hours, we finally made it to where the pavement ends and the unmarked forest roads starts. We started searching for the takeout.

Driving aimlessly in the woods for about two or so hours, we finally decided to leave our shuttle vehicle (Wolf's less than adequate mountain bike) at the Golden Trout Crossing. The bridge crosses the correct river, just not at the right takeout. Ha ha ha. Then off to the put-in or ingress point which we arrived at about 2:30 AM. We both fell asleep very quickly and slept tight through the night.

In the morning, we took our time getting ready, in hopes that another group of paddlers would come along to help us with our shuttle. (... love this advanced planning mode...) There’s also safety in numbers when paddling, especially difficult rivers like this one.

Wolf had been down the run once, so we had a little information, but a lot of unknowns in the missing sections. The other rafting info we had was that the run was a very long. We did not put on early since there was a strong possibility of us spending the night on the river. (Note from W.E.T. River Trips: exploratory whitewater rafting requires a paddler to be ready to camp in the river corridor due to unknown circumstances and emergencies...) Armed with that info we knew we could and should not wait too long to ingress.

So after slowly getting ready in the morning and making a hot breakfast, we put on the river at ten thirty. Almost immediately after getting on the river, the first big was right before us. The rapid was fairly straight forward but with a big consequence if the kayak was near the right side. I decided to portage down about five feet and get back on in a narrow slot of water, missing any major obstacles. I was full of hesitation before the run, now I was just very nervous.

Immediately following that rapid, is a mandatory portage of a 30-foot waterfall that drops into a very shallow pool. We also walked around the next small boof because of the consequences of missing the boof stroke and swimming (capsizing). That’s really all the details I remember, but the rest of the river turns out to be an amazing.

The river canyon is very deep and remote with very little human impact. There are so many high quality white water rapids on this stretch, that I can not remember them all. So as the day was coming to an end, our minds again turned to the set which we had half-way done. Our plan was to just paddle the remaining miles to the bridge, but the egress is a diversion dam. To our dismay, the dam was robbing the 300cfs that we were on and leaving us with 10cfs below the dam. Paddling was out of the question.

The walk to the car was about five Wolf miles, and if you know Wolf that could be six miles or it could be fifteen miles. So Wolf took off walking, and I just stayed and tried to stay warm. Well, as it turns out, lucky karma Wolf (extreme ray of sunshine) caught a ride, and was back within two hours! I was very glad to be putting on warm clothes.

After looking back on the trip, that river is one of the prettiest river canyons in all of California. The South Fork of the Feather had turned out to be one of the most difficult rivers in my very short river running career. I am looking forward to visiting more of California rivers very soon!

Post by Heffe... mentoring with Wolf is an adventure in itself... we guarantee it!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rafting: Old Farts

Since the spring of 1977, I have been a whitewater rafting professional (guide, outfitter, shuttle-driver, food-buyer, shuttle-vehicle mechanic, equipment manager, and camp chef... and most of the time, the tasks have been assigned simultaneously). The past few years have seen me rarely on the river; but, this year has been different.

A first personal descent (river, snow slope, mountain bike trail, ocean wave, skate ramp, or twisty mountain road) is always a notch up on the fun meter. The added bonus of a first-personal
descent is the heightened awareness of your surroundings: colors, vegetation, rock formations, and those amazing whitewater rapids!

This rafting season started early with a first personal descent of the Smith River with clear sunny weather in February. The Smith is a crystal clear stream running through the redwoods along the California Oregon border and is a sister river to the Klamath, Salmon, and Trinity. I've run over 17 rivers in California and the Smith is on the top of the heap and not for whitewater... the rapids were great; however, the water, the rocks, and the surrounding old-growth redwoods made the trip (also Vladimir's, another old fart, mid-night escapades!).

Rafting PictureAfter a wild early season filled with a full menu of South Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork American River trips and the ensuing milieu of shuttles, food-buys, trip logistics, and guides in need of parenting, I was able to run off to Idaho and work as a guide on a 6-day trip followed by an amazing 800-mile motorcycle ride back to Sacramento, California on a KLR 650 with fresh knobbies... huge fun at 80 mph across Nevada!

The season continued on with a hectic
Middle Fork American and South Fork American River season that ended the first week of October. But, the season didn't end until Country Mike rallied us up for a first personal (for all of us) first-descent on Silver Creek that helps to form the headwaters of the South Fork American.

The trip was a constant surprise of sights and rapids at every bend and through every log-jam portage.
It didn't matter that I was approaching retirement age and 30 pounds heavier than I was in '77.

I shared the day with 10 of W.E.T. River Trips guides that ranged in age from 20 to 42 years old (not counting myself). We ran the same rapids, we saw the same sights, we were all cold. At the end of the day, we all smiled and no one had regrets. We all knew the same things: It was a great day.

Let it snow! I'll be back for more.

Note from W.E.T. River Trips: Posted by an Old Fart! Just kidding... Big Poppa rocks! The ol' man hit the whitewater with us... he did good! Hehehehehe...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

South Fork American - Troublemaker Rapid

Country Mike is one of our newer guides for W.E.T. River Trips. Not a young buck, but a professional banker addicted to whitewater rafting in a big way. He started river rafting with our company a few years ago, got hooked and proceeded to rope in every river in California. Those trips that we didn't do, we sent him over to our favorite competitors so that he could do more esoteric river trips throughout the state. Like Heffe exclaims in a recent message to our myspace blogger... 2007 season ain't done yet! And Mike just verified this in an email to me on Sunday...

"Just wanted you to know we all had a great trip today. Three plus me headed up to CB (Chili Bar on the South Fork American) to see if the flow was good. Looked like about 1300 (cfs). Had a solid surf at the hole (Chili Bar hole; home of the annual Kayak Rodeo) and headed down river. The day was great. One yakker (kayaker) at CB and three at 1st threat (popular class 3+ rapid with a big standing wave). Only people on the river. Great wildlife with deer, buck and wife, swimming across below Coloma Lake. Right after that, a great looking blue heron was on shore and flying around... very cool."

"We cruised through TM (Troublemaker Rapid, class 3+ to a class 4) and I said, 'Hey, lets carry back up shore and try to surf the hole.' I was trying to sucker the guys (his personal friends) into some carnage. One fella opted out, so the rest of us carried up and dropped in the peanut gallery eddy (favorite spot for photographers)."

"Could not get enough mo (movement) going back up river from a dead stop, so the current spun us around right into the proper grove for another perfect run left of Gunsight (easy rapid but a common wrap rock). A rare opportunity to hit it twice in a raft in about 15 minutes. Shortly after, it was off to the Sierra Nevada House for some gold kayaks (mixed drink), food and laughs."

"Anyway, the most important part is a big thank you goes out to (W.E.T. River Trips) for the opportunity to be on the river with friends to enjoy such perfect weather and setting."

"Again, it is appreciated. All the best and the happiest of holidays if we do not talk!"

Country Mike (Already a seasoned guide...)

Note from W.E.T. River Trips: hmmmm, how about a Christmas run to close out the year, people???

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

BIG BOY: Weekend Warrior

Nowadays, you hear the term, "Weekend Warrior" more and more. What is it you ask? Someone who takes care of business and responsibilities Monday through Friday and on the weekends... well we will get to that...

Every time I heard the term, I would think of my dad or an older adult who lives it up on the weekends. Someone who works 10 hour days Monday through Friday and has 14-hour adventures on the weekends. The past couple years of my life, I thought I would always be able to go skateboard, hang out with my friends, go on road trips, and even party everyday; no matter what day.

The last couple of weeks have sure proved me wrong. Being a full-time student and a part time employee, had to buckle down a little, tighten the notches on the belt so to speak. My social life dwindled, and I started to become MIA (missing in action). I was also recently given the opportunity to interview for a personal assistant job with a financial brokerage house. Being the adventure seeker, I am, I thought to myself... hey, maybe there is a future in this, and it's probably good money, so I jumped right on it.

I am very confident and obviously I love to talk, I am a people person, that's what I am. The interview went well and I was offered the job on the spot. So, I took it. After a few days of work, I realized I got myself in over my head. Two part-time jobs, a full load of school, and a social life... well, lack of social life that is. I now work and go to school Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm. Whether it be from work to work or school to work, I am on the run constantly. The longest break I have is a half hour for lunch and a half hour to drive from one destination to another.

My body is exhausted from no sleep and perpetual brain functioning. I verve and run around strictly on two things, coffee and cigarettes. Both which are absolutely HORRID habits of mine that I would like to break everyday, but at this time in my life, they help me get by. I'm hoping that my routine will become habitual and my lifestyle will serve me well in the long run. I was tired of being a poor college student and had to start building my bank account up again. I just didn't realize how hard it was to do just that.

Most people who have graduated from college tell me, "I have one thing to say... stay in school as long as you can..." But why would I want to be a poor college student for as long as I can? No way, I want a degree and I want it fast. This leads to another problem with people my age. Our minds change everyday, and it's hard to stick with one subject of study. I, myself, still have no idea what I'm in school for but I'm on my way to figuring it out.

So back to my daily routine. Once I'm done with work and out of school, I'm way too burned out to get to any of my social life or skateboarding. I can't even start to begin how many phone calls I get asking, "Where have you been? Come hang out?" My response, "Sorry guys and girls, I have to be a Big Boy now and take care of my priorities." Most of my friends don't understand. The few that do, I respect them for understanding that sooner or later, we all have to grow up. Hence, the "Weekend Warrior" term.

I now look forward to living to the utmost on the weekends. It's seriously the only time I can sit and relax and be on my own time... K-Dog time... I like that. Most people go through a phase like mine, and yes; it's a challenge. Personally, I like a challenge to see what I am really made of, and what I can prove to myself. I'm not going to lie though; this is one of my biggest challenges I have yet to deal with in my life.

There is no telling if I will continue to work both jobs and stay in school, but for the time being, I plan to do so. A lot of people say that they are waiting for their "big break" if you know what I mean. Yea, I used to wait around for that to; someone to come up to you and offer you the job of a lifetime or a opportunity of a lifetime. But, NEWS FLASH everyone!!! It's not going to happen!!! Sometimes you just have to go out there and take life by the horns, grab them, and hold on tight to the bull. It's a wild ride and you might get bucked off but you gotta get back on and give it your all.

My two jobs are the horns and college is the bull that I am sitting on in my life right now. If I fail this time, at least I know to approach the bull a different way next time I go on for a ride.

I'm going to leave everyone with one last quote by the infamous Shane Cross... rip...


K-Dog Post... he's growing up folks...

Note from W.E.T.'s teen blogging staff: hey, parents, we do finally grow up...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

South Fork American Silver Creek Run

On October 20th, W.E.T. River Trips whitewater guides rallied up for the pure air of the high Sierra's and the unique opportunity to run the Silver Creek: one of the tributaries to the South Fork American that flows from Ice House Reservior. PG & E (Pacific Gas & Electric) is providing test flows of 500 cfs for 10 days and we hit it!

Country Mike of Gold River, Saul of Newport Beach, Jason of Marin, Nate of Lake Tahoe, Andrew of Lotus, Wolf & Little Alex of Auburn, Justin and his brother from Grass Valley, Ryan Mac of Lotus/Rio Vista, Alex H. of Berkeley, and Big Poppa from Sactown got together for our collective first-ever run on the elusive (10 boatable days in 2 years) Silver Creek flowing out of Ice House Reservoir and eventually contributing to the South Fork of the American.

We started out with a leisurely load and a caravan to breakfast in Placerville as we then traveled to Ice House where we met Nate and a friend of his from Kirkwood. We launched 3 rafts and three kayaks at the base of the Ice House dam where 500 cfs blasted 75 yards into the canyon at the lip of a class 4 rapid... nice start. The day was incredible with beautiful fall colors, old growth trees that were saved from the massive Ice House fire 20 years ago and a non-stop read-and-run day of whitewater.

The day included some big whitewater fun with 4 portages around log jams and Country Mike wrapping on a log jam (saved by Nate who literally walked on water and when called on his miracle... he calmly responded that he is a Jewish carpenter... makes sense - ha!).

The 11 mile run ranged from fast flats, steep creeking, limbo moves under massive old-growth logs, and the bonus surroundings of high Sierra geology, and forestation that glowed in oranges, yellows, reds, and every conceivable shade of green.

Beautiful, precious day... just cold as F'n Hell... Bonus: we were met at the takeout by Bird and Heffe and we handed off a raft so that they could make the run on Sunday (they had just been hired at the Sierra Ski Ranch job fair... lift tickets, anyone?). Also... mad props to the kayakers that built the fire at take-out... the warm was another bonus....

Unless something else pops up, our 2007 season started the first week of February on the Smith River and finished on the Silver Creek in October... ten months and 11 rivers over countless days and miles in three States... nice, nice, very nice!

End of 2007 Season

A Big Poppa Post