Sunday, September 26

Trip Report: American (South Fork) - Sept 24, 2004

Run: Marshall to Salmon Falls
Difficulty: III - IV
Flow: 1300 cfs

We ran the South Fork of the American River yesterday (Saturday) from Marshall to Salmon Falls/Gorge at around 1300 cfs (according to the flow guages).

We put in around 12 Noon at Marshall, the water was still looking very low with many of the small rocks still visible in the middle of the flat water at Marshall. Overall the flow was on the low side and although we had fun, I don't think I wouldn't run it much lower, especially from Marshall to Greenwood. I think that the Gorge below Greenwood is much more runable at lower flows. Although the flow says 1300 cfs, I can't help think that the actual flow was lower than that. On other days at 1300-1400 cfs I think the flow looked significantly higher. Even though the temperature was well into the 80's, the water is damn cold and the Gorge gets chilly at the this time of the year because the sun is off the water. So layer up if you head down the river.

The run down past Greenwood was uneventful and routine, apart from a collision while surfing Barking Dog! It did get more fun below Greenwood, since the Gorge stays interesting at most flow levels.

Bouncing Rock and Satan's were unremarkable, but Hospital Bar was CRAZY! Damn, that wave was big. My friends ventured in to surf, but I just watched from the sidelines. The "Surprise" hole towards the end of the Gorge was also damn big, it was a total blast. Due to the low flows we had rapids practically to the end of the run with a very short paddle out on the flatwater at Salmon Falls - one of the benefits of low flows.

The last time we ran this we did a fun seal launch right by Fowler's Rock. On the way into the rapid, there is a big rock on river right, the flow goes around the rock to the left and there is a small eddy right in front of it. There is a big crack through the rock, large enough to wedge your kayak bow first. You can stable yourself and climb out, then haul your boat up to the top of the rock. The seal launch is off the back of the rock facing downriver. Very fun. Be careful you don't break your neck climbing up there.

It is unclear how many more weekends there will be water, but it sounds like at least two more in September with potential for some weekend flows in October. I think we'll be putting in at Greenwood and just running the Gorge. The unfortunate news is that my collision in Barking Dog managed to break two of my ribs!! So I'm told it'll be a few weeks before they are back in decent shape, so we'll see what that does for my kayak adventures over the next couple of months.


At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that ribs #10 and #11 are broken. Hope you get better soon!



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