Monday, January 2

Trip Report: American (South Fork "Gorge" - Flood Stage) - 1/2/06

Run: Greenwood to Salmon Falls
Difficulty: IV (Given flood stage & consequences)
Flow: 12,000+ (Estimated)

Map of the River

We put-in at Greenwood Creek, using the newly constructed parking lot & facilities. Very nice. The gate was open however the gate to the Salmon Falls lot at the take-out was actually closed. We had a group of five - Bob, Amy, Eric & Alex plus me.

Greenwood Creek was dumping a lot of water into the river and all of the tributaries were flowing including some waterfalls. A run that can take 4 hours took us only 1.5 hours, if daylight wasn't running out we'd almost have done it again!

The Chili Bar guage was around 8,000 cfs and it always difficult to judge how much additional flow is added by the time you reach the Gorge. Given the flood stage and the width of the river banks it could be an additional 4k, but that is a guess based on little evidence. Apparently (so I'm told) Chili Bar drainage is about 598 sq. miles and Greenwood is 673 sq. miles, not counting additional drainage through the Gorge. Don't quote me on that, 'cos I don't know for sure.

Not surprisingly there were many wave trains, some not as big as I expected. Fowler's made us hesitate before heading in. It was hard to see a clean line at that flow, but I felt that the far left line to the left of Fowler's was the best bet. I ferried across river right to catch a moving eddy right before the rapid but didn't hit the eddy far enough up so quickly became committed to running some kinda line without a good plan! I took a quick look then went with the far left. I was worried about the possibility of a huge hole behind Fowler's that might suck me in and one was there, but it was avoidable with a bit of care. I eddied out river left immediately afterwards, raising my paddle to let the others know that I was alive! The hole right after Fowler's was one of the biggest I've seen, definitely worth a look and definitely worth avoiding. It was a crazy sight. Possibly the second biggest hole after the one at Fowler's was at Scissors just left of center, we ran it right rather than the normal left line at lower flows.

Satan's was mostly washed out and completely covered. We went around to the right and Son of Satan's was almost sketchier with lots of wierd currents a two nice sized holes, one of the left and one on the right. Some nice waves.

Bouncing Rock was fun, but the hole was definitely worth avoiding, we were quickly into what I think is called "Double Dip" which was fun wavetrain before Hospital Bar with yet another man eating hole.

Hospital Bar was basically washed out into a moderate wavetrain. The lake was fairly low and so we had current all the way down to Salmon Falls. Surprise was washed out but there were some fun wavetrains after that.

All in all, my conclusion was that the run was a lot of fun but I almost think it is more fun at a few thousand cfs less when some of the rapids have more definition. The weather was reasonably kind, but there was moderate rain for the entire run but fortunately no wind.

I was running the river in my new boat - Jackson Hero - rather than my Wavesport EZG. I need to get comfortable in a river runner/creeker for bigger water. Unless you're a good paddler I wouldn't recommend running the river at this flow in a small boat given the squirly eddy lines & holes.

Consquences are high in the event of a swim. It would be very difficult to recover swimmers and gear, and the hike out isn't easy in many spots. some of the holes look very retentive with high drowning danger so staying in your boat is really important. I didn't roll at all, and frankly didn't want to experience a roll in the middle of some of the powerful rapids since trying to get up, even with a good roll, could be a challenge.

Can't wait until next weekend! No pictures this time unfortunately.


At 10:53 AM, Blogger Darrick said...

If you like to kayak,Let me know?
Darrick 916-607-4315


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