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. 

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