Well, now that I have a little time in between working all day on the river, and writing papers all day for school, I figure I will take a break to briefly document some of last summer’s better adventure rafting trips. The year started off very well for the W.E.T. crew, completing the 2 day run of Generation and Giant Gap on the North Fork American River. Along with several other W.E.T. guides, notably J. Orban and Data Dax, we made the 5 mile hike into the Generation Gap with some Kayaker assistance (Heffe, fem Alex, and The Wolf), and put on at a perfect spring flow on a perfect spring day.
The Generation Gap has been run multiple times before in rafts, but was still a very challenging class V run, involving a few good portages, some quality boxed-in canyons, and Wolf-scouted rapids called “lefty lefty, scrapey scrapey.” (Note from WET staff: LOL!) On the second day we reached the confluence with the North Fork of the NoFo, and got a healthy boost in water to run the Generation Gap with somewhere a little under 2000 cfs. (For the record the Kayakers portaged Locomotive, and we styled it in the raft with Orban guiding). The run finished with no mishaps, a few sketchy backwards moments, and a bunch of tired, cold, hungry, and happy guides.
The highlight of summer boating was without question Wolf and my descent of Upper Cherry Creek. With little argument about attempting to make the six to ten mile hike, and nine mile high Sierra run, The Wolf and I set out in the Toyota searching for steep drops, big hits, and granite super highways. After receiving great beta from veteran rafters such as Guy (“you’re going to die”), we were fired up to check out what the upper Tuolumne tributary had to offer.
Along with us, and central to the success of the trip, was Fem Alex and adventure dog Marley, who provided quality ground support and photography. To my best knowledge, Upper Cherry has been run maybe three other times in rafts in the last five or so years. While we were not the first raft to make it down the run, I am almost positive that we did make the first decent in a bucket boat. The Wolf Special, a 10 foot, superlight, all black, two thwart, PVC bucket boat, was the perfect inflatable to boat this run in.
We set out early in the morning with a heavy load and a long day ahead. Before leaving on the trip I struck a deal with Wolf, where I would carry all gear for the trip (food, sleeping bags, first aid, throwbags, repair, top-off pump, ect.), if he would carry the boat. Good to his word, Wolf hauled the raft with a camstrap like a purse, while I managed the hike in with a hefty drybag load. Without any major incidents we hit the river around 3:00pm, and then made the hike up into Cherry Bomb gorge to begin our run.
Due to anticipated lower flows, we opted out of hiking into the section above Cherry Bomb because we didn’t want add miles of additional portages to our trip. As expected, we had a fairly low flow, which made for a great amount of water for exploring the run. Our first set of rapids involved a 200+ yard slide, into a boxed-in teacup section. Luckily both Wolf and I have had extensive slide and waterfall practice up on South Silver Creek, so we were fairly prepared for how the GI Jane bucket boat would handle down the drops. Even with our foreknowledge, I think we were both surprised at how deep you can go in a raft when you’re full of water going over teacups. After an extremely long first day, we camped just below the drop known as “Dead Bear,” and enjoyed a spectacular high Sierra evening.
The next morning we awoke like little kids on their birthdays to about a mile and half of read and run class 4+ slides and small drops. The highlight of day two was probably a 35 ft. off-vertical falls, into a picturesque, Shangri-La pool. This one was so fun, Wolf and Fem Alex hauled the boat back up the granite cliff for another run.
The entire trip went without mishaps. While there are several significant portages on the run, (dependent on flow), we were probably able to boat about sixty percent on the water, which was much better than what I had in mind when we set out. We managed to make it to Cherry Lake around 5pm just in time for a healthy three mile paddle across the flat-water. To top the run off Wolf ran the seven mile shuttle up the ridge to our cars, cruising in to pick us up at 9:30pm, just in time to make the 1:00am Denny’s crowd in Jacksonville, and our 8:00am South Fork American rafting trips the next morning. All in all it was an outrageous summer full of good times on the water.
Hope everyone had a good rest this fall and winter, so we can gear up and go big this coming spring. Also mad props to Wolf’s Tunnel Chute flip for some of the best rafting photos I’ve ever seen.
Note: Thank you Alex for the memories! WET crew is ready for rafting! Cya all on the water!