Tuesday, September 27

LL Ultimate Hook Up Video Contest - shaneslogic blog

Checkout Shane's blog for some very cool new kayaking streaming video: The Winners of the LL Ultimate Hook Up Video Contest!

This one has a high "ouch" and "oh shit" factor: "In Between Swims"

American River (South Fork) - Video of Troublemaker Rapid

Map of the River

Troublemaker Rapid on the South Fork of the American is one of the more challenging rapids on the run. It is dramatically different in winter with flows over 5000 cfs versus the typical summer flows of 1500 cfs. Here are some clips showing different lines at different flows. If you notice the rocks in the middle of the river in the second set of clips, you can see how far under water they are at the higher flow. Quicktime is required for all of the movies.

Here's a view of the entire rapid to give some perspective: Video 10MB

High Flow (5500 to over 6000 cfs):

* Here is Brian's line river left, going across the tongue and then over "Gunsight" which is completely submerged. He tries to catch the surf wave at the end but doesn't quite make it. This is the obvious and easiest line at high flow: Video 10MB

* Here's Dave's line on river right just left of "Double Trouble" on the same day: Video 12MB

* Melvin takes the same line as Dave, but eddies out above Double Trouble first: Video 9MB

* A couple of guys head down together, one takes a nice line down middle/left but the other eddies out at the last second. You can't see it from the video, but there is a nasty ass rock pile on river left below Gunsight. At that flow you need to punch out of the eddy to get around to the right of Gunsight to avoid it - some might say the eddy isn't a good option once you get towards 7000 cfs. Check it out: Video1 9MB and Video2 9MB

Low Flow (1500 cfs):

* This is me on the "standard" line at most flows - eddy hop down river left then peel out to either go over Gunsight or go around to the right. Depending on the flow level, Gunsight can get very bony on the far side: Eddy Video 9MB and Gunsight Video 16MB

* Brian takes a tighter line further towards river right and catches the eddy further down after Troublemaker: Video 9MB.

You may note that there is no video of me running the rapid at higher flows - I promise you I did, just no one had the camera. ;-)

Sunday, September 25

Trip Report: Feather (North Fork "Cresta" - 1000cfs) - Sept. 24, 2005

Run: North Fork Feather (Cresta)
Difficulty: III+ to IV
Flow: 1000 cfs
(Includes Video)

I had my first experience on the Feather this weekend, with a nice run from the Cresta Dam down to the Cresta Power House. I had some trouble figuring out the best directions from San Francisco, so here's what appears to work best:

* 80 East across Bay Bridge from San Francisco toward Sacramento
* Highway 113/99 North from Davis to Yuba City. Alternately via I-5/99/70 through Sacramento.
* Highway 20 East from Yuba City to Marysville
* Highway 70 North from Marysville to Cresta Powerhouse

All in all, it's about 175 to 185 miles from San Francisco. The drive took about 3.5 hours with a short stop and no traffic to speak of. Highway 113 is a two lane highway in most places, but avoided a lot of traffic. Be careful of the speed limit since the Bold Brian ran afoul of our friends at the CHP in a 55mph zone.

I hit the Cresta Powerhouse takeout about 50 miles or so from Marysville. That day it had a "Special Events" sign and "Whitewater Parking" courtesy of American Whitewater since they were running shuttle that day. Otherwise it's the second PG&E power generation facility on the way up just after Poe Dam. Don't get it confused with Cresta Dam, which is the Cresta put-in.

The American Whitewater Shuttle helps a lot given the limited parking at Cresta Dam. Although the shuttle is only supposed to take 10-15 minutes, it was a busy day and it took us about an hour to get loaded and dropped off after a short stop at Shady Rest to drop off other paddlers for the class 2-3 section. The bus was standing room only - with some paddlers smelling fresher than others! The shuttle seemed to come about every 45 minutes or so on average, except of course when it's packed and takes longer to do the drop off. We missed a shuttle and so had almost 2 hours of waiting around and shuttle before getting in the water.

The put-in at Cresta Dam is pretty infamous. Many talk of it being a "class V" put-in, which translated means that it's a steep drop into the canyon below the dam and is near vertical in places. The path is narrow to non-existent with loose rocks and dirt, a challenge to stay on your feet with a 50lb kayak and all your gear. Don't bother if you don't have the right footwear. There were a couple of alternative routes down, one with ropes that had been setup which we didn't try. It's manageable, just gotta be very careful. I saw a snapped Werner paddle but no other injuries.

I always get way too nervous on new runs and this one wasn't an exception. I was stiff and out of my groove for the first mile or so, but soon got settled in. I hadn't been paddling in a few weeks, which didn't help.

In my humble opinion the run down to Shady Rest is a solid III+, of course County Rapid is a IV all day long. Much of the III+ is technical at 1000 cfs and really bony in places. Rolling is often not a great idea at all.

County Rapid (IV) is worth the scout for a first time, but the moves weren't too hard. The hole at the bottom was a bit sketchy but flushy at 1000 cfs if you rolled over. It would side surf you for a while otherwise. Check out Brian as he takes a line through the main event: Video 7MB

Some of the moves on the run are definitely "must make", especially at Table Rock (aka Cow Catcher aka Cave Rapid). This is one of those rapids where paddler stories abound about rescues and death - unfortunately they're true. The GCP forum has a report of one incident. There is a big undercut rock with a submerged cave that will suck you in if you swim and get close to it. Given the consequences this seemed like a class IV to me, although the moves themselves aren't really hard. There is a little ledge drop/chute right above it which could catch you unawares and a swim there might not be recoverable before you get taken into the main rapid. With some apprehension I sailed through - sometimes talking it up just makes it worse. There's always the balance between sharing the right amount of information vs. getting caught up in too much drama & speculation.

Brian & Bob on the Feather Posted by Picasa

The run below Shady Rest is pretty tame, except for a supposed class IV at the takeout. It has a relatively straightforward line on river right, but the rapid definitely has a risk of getting pinned if you roll or swim.

I'd definitely recommend the run for solid III+ paddlers, I don't think it's a good run to do your first class IV - just my opinion for what it's worth. I didn't see any novice paddlers on the upper part of the Cresta run, since I think it has earned some respect. I'll be back. It was worth the long drive.

View of the Feather River Posted by Picasa