Tuesday, May 10

Trip Report: American (South Fork "Gorge" - High Flow) - May 8, 2005

Run: Lotus Campground to Salmon Falls
Difficulty: III+ to IV
Flow: 4000 to 5000 cfs (estimated)

Map of the River

My friend T (Tatiana) of Trinity River fame joined me and Brian for her first run of the season down the Gorge. She brought her big ass ugly Wavesport Mutant creekboat and I decided to join the party by doing a demo of the Dagger Mamba. Brian as usual was bopping down doing cartwheels in wave trains in his Dagger Kingpin. I was in an aircraft carrier given the comparative volume between the Dagger Mamba & the Dagger Kingpin - I got a ration of shit for taking the big boat down, but I wanted to check out how a true creek style boat felt on bigger water (see review).

The CBR guage shows that it was hitting over 4000 cfs that day, but given the additional inflows on the way down to the Gorge it's hard to say what the actual flow is by the time you reach Satan's - 750 to 1000 cfs more is probably conservative. Needless to say this was my "new" highest flow day on the American and on the Gorge.

Many of the fun rapids actually get washed out after you exceed 4000 cfs, so it was fun but not what I expected. The one rapid that I really wanted to nail this time was Satan's. On the way we bumped into a lone kayaker who had gotten seperated from his buddy who had decided to portage Fowlers (not an easy place to portage). He had hung out for an hour with no sign of his friend, so given that he was new to the river and visiting from Colorado we took him under our wing for the rest of the run.

We scouted Lost Hat before heading through, it had a couple of avoidable nasty holes and we booked river right to eddy out above Satan's which we scouted. The problem with eddying out on river right to scout Satan's is that you really struggle to get over and out into the channel to get a good line. If you have a good feel for your line, it's better to go straight in and run it or eddy out right above it on river left. There was a nice sneak possibility on river right of both holes in Satan's and so the plan was to head for that. As we set up to head down, T & our visitor decided to bypass it and head down river right around Satan's, but alas, both swam right below Satan's and Brian & I had to book it down after them to gather up the pieces - so we didn't get to run it!!! Bummer, next time.

Hospital Bar was remarkably routine since it was so washed out and then the worst part - the lake was so high that immediately after Recovery Room it was completely flat water all the way to Salmon Falls - what a hike. Our lone kayaker was re-united with his buddy right below Recovery Room - tears were shed - he'd hitched a lift on a raft and they'd missed each other so no need for a search & rescue.


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