Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two Days on the Clavey

On the advice of Josh and Riley we rallied with Ryan Lucas, Toni George and Pete Lodge to the Clavey River. We left early with the hope of doing the Upper Clavey section that afternoon. A couple of wrong turns while trying to do the shuttle left the Toyota Tercel unable to negotiate a muddy ditch so that afternoon was spent exploring above upper upper reaches of the Clavey (above the road bridge). We founds lots of stout rapids and some super stout poison oak. So it was back to the bridge for G and T’s and a Tecnu wash. 

Day one photos

Me on the entrance of the first rapid

Ready to boof and avoid the cave

Ryan on some class five boogie

Toni mid way through day one


Toni reaching to get herself through


Ryan stomping one of the last ones on the first day

Car camping on the Clavey

We woke to find no sign of Josh and Riley so set shuttle for the upper section. 4 hours later and some class 5 driving saw us back at the road bridge and ready to paddle. (If you would like information on setting shuttle for the upper section, we found a much shorter route than what the guide book says). We put on at 2pm, not ideal considering the guide book says “put on early”. At 213 fpm gradient from the start, once on the river things were bigger and steeper than they looked from the bridge. The flow was definitely on the good side of high (a later estimate put 1000 cfs at the upper bridge and closer to 1400 cfs at the lower bridge). With good boat scouting and decision-making, we had a fast trip with every rapid being run by someone. 

Lots of beautiful, some burly, class IV-V rapids. Mostly clean, which was great for us. It took about 4 hours to the lower bridge and the gauge there on River right, said 11.1 – not sure what this relates to. We car camped at the bridge and planned for an early start the following morning.

The early start was hindered by a severe lack of sunshine, so early became 9.30am. We set off making good time… Countless fantastic class V rapids, mostly boat-scoutable. 3 hours of boogie-ing saw us at Hunter’s Bend, which roughly marks halfway through the Lower Clavey section. After Ryan did some underwater paddling to get himself out of a hole, it was time for lunch. From here, the flat water was sparse. After another hour and a half, I was looking forward to a bit of crusier boating. But the Clavey had other ideas. The rapids kept coming all the way to the confluence with the Tuolomne. We managed to do the entire run with only one portage. After a short celebration of our successful arrival at the Tuolomne, we looked downstream to see the gradient continue, but with by now around 10,000 cfs. From here, the next 12 miles was a 60 minute blur of read and run, big water class IV – V down to Ward’s Ferry road. 

Day two photos

Toni, running the breakfast rapid

Me, ready to find out whats next

Toni putting her boat where it needs to be


Pete, hitting the sweet spot

Me, trying to fly

Me, boof into tail stand

Ryan, boofing into a funky slot

Pete loving the Grande

Pete Loving the gradient

The Clavey proved to be a very continuous Class V run. I wish we had done it over three days as it would have allowed us some time to look around. The trip was uneventful which is always good, although everyone did get back-looped at least once. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Sweet Gear

This week I had a parcel arrive from Sweet and have had the opportunity to test out most of the gear. First of all, their gear is stylish and functional. With most of their products I was able to drop down a size from other products because of the length. Their t-shirts are long, their pants are long, their drytops are long and their hoodies are awesome. I hadn’t tried any of their gear on before, but their sizing chart made it very easy to get the right fit. The Prophecy dry-top and Prophecy dry-pants make an excellent dry combination. After accidentally knocking my throwbag into the Clavey and swimming after it, I emerged bone-dry. I was skeptical about the big straps cinching the dry-pants and dry-top tight around the waist but they proved to be very supportive for my lower back. Kind of like wearing a kidney belt. 

Both Jess and I, being tall people, found the hoodies to be a very fantastic fit. Being able to put your hands above your head without showing midriff has allowed us to do common tasks in public without showing too much flesh (for example, putting a boat on the roof of the truck). Lots of people have been commenting on how good all the gear looks. Thanks Sweet and please continue to make awesome kayak apparel.  

This is the link to check out their gear and clothing… Sweet Protection

Slab Creek - American River

Well, adventures or misadventures are the theme of the week. With a mixture of lots of people, different abilities and not that many cars, decisions were taking a long time to make. After resting and doing laundry yesterday, Jess and I were keen to get a good run in. The team was keen for a run close to Coloma, so Slab Creek it was. Slab Creek has one of the most beautiful urban put-ins that I have seen, a very impressive man-made waterfall. We had a large group that almost required all of my digits to make sure everyone was safe. The flow was on the low side of okay, around 700 cfs. It made all of the rapids boat-scoutable, making for some nice boogie water. 

Jess with the man made water fall in the back ground

Sara James about to get her nose up

Ben Nelson

Pete boofing the Grande

Slab Creek felt a lot like the Wairoa in NZ. The shuttle car was left in the wrong place, but meant that we got to paddle some of the bigger rapids of the trip in a beautiful gorge. However, It did make for a long paddle out and a long shuttle that started with a 25 minute uphill walk to find the car (no kayaks though). Three of the team were sent to do the shuttle while the rest of us were given the choice to either carry our kayaks up a big hill (and carry the three extra boats) or paddle down to the start of the Chili Bar run. I wasn’t keen to walk out so opted for the paddle, which I think worked out well. After a 40 minute flat water paddle, sharing the task of towing the three extra boats, we arrived at a dam. I started hauling the extra boats up to get them around the dam. I was semi over it so opted to film everyone else paddle the dam.

Ryan Lucas

Toni George


Sara in a borrowed boat

So with a long day under our belts, it was off to the Pilot Hill Steak House (thanks Josh) for a mean feed and to plan tomorrows mission to the Clavey.

49 to Bridgeport

After an adventurous day of Finding Nemo (Toni's car was Missing In Action), it came back with different hub caps and a Power Puff Girls throw over. Nemo still needed a set of roof racks, so it was off to SOC to buy some. Nemo was set and it was finally off to the South Yuba. We put on at 4pm having never done the run before. With some good reading and running we made good time to the take out. The flow was an awesome 1200 cfs. It's a beautiful run with fantastic bedrock rapids.

Pete Logde, he's in there somewhere

Jess Matheson

Toni George


Pete lining up nicely

Jess, in the same place

Pete on Ski Jump (I think)

Toni George

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back to Cali

It's been an interesting time getting to the States this year... Broken alternator, cancelled flights, missed flights, night-time trains, seized hand-brake, a flat battery and some water features (leaky truck canopy). All the adventures are just opportunities to put my problem solving techniques into practice. 

With a bit of warm up paddling up on the Cal Salmon and getting all our gear together from last year, we are now down in the Coloma region, waiting for the water levels to get good.

 Cascade Falls - Salmon River

 The drive over the North Fork of the Salmon

 Hank, our trusty Toyota

 Breakfast in Phil and Mary's back yard

 Warming up on Kyburz, South Fork American

Hoping that there are many more missions to come, there is a big Kiwi crew here and that crew is just building as the days go by.