So, California has been going off this year with an incredible amount of water and kayaking to be done. I have been getting after it pretty hard this year tacking up many runs that I have yet to do. The Sierra's really are an amazing place holding some of the best rivers in the world as well as some of the most remote.
I can't begin to explain to you how much i love the rivers here in California. Growing up here for the first 14 years of my life, i once fished some of the lakes and rivers that i now dream to paddle. The clear water, smooth granite, and diverse ecosystems will keep me paddling here the rest of my life.
Recently, i was fortunate enough to paddle the Royal Gorge on the North Fork of the American. This run is known for its committing gorges, large waterfalls, amazing scenery and geology. My first run on the river was amazing. We had a nice medium high flow, that made some of the drops pretty intense and action packed. I left some of the bigger drops unrun because of the unknown nature of the river, and the committing gorges that stood before us. Feeling humbled but satisfied we took off the river. I had run a couple of the big drops, but left a bunch unrun. Feeling that i had unfinished business, I went back in a couple days later.
The run is normally a three day trip. Its about 40 plus miles of whitewater, the most challenging taking place in the first 8 miles. On the first expedition we decided to do the trip in two days. Not a wise choice, for any of you thinking of this as an option. On day one we got to the heath springs gorge. It starts with a rowdy entry drop followed by a 40ft waterfall, and then a 50ft waterfall, and a 15 ft slot drop exit into another steep gorge. I had never seen anything like it in my kayaking career. I was amazed at is grandeur and power, and began to plunge my way downstream. After the first falls, we ran into a two man team that had lost their boat in the second falls, and the boat was circling in a nasty cave unreachable. We had to rapell in clip the boat and haul it out. We spent most of the day helping these guys out, and it left a ridiculously long second day, one i hoped i would never have to repeat. We took off the river that next day at around 10:30 at night.
Feeling like i walked a lot of the river, i proceeded to go right back in a couple days later. With flows a little lower i felt great about the upcoming massive drops and gorges. After running the entry drop and then the 40ftr i decided to run Heath 2, the committing 50ft waterfall with the 15ft slot exit. It was one of the most beautiful places i have ever been. Dropping in, i felt the reconnect, set my angle and tucked up. I had a super soft line and went deep, popped my skirt, and paddled into the eddy above the 15ftr. It went incredibly well, considering my skirt is rather old. Moving on, we ran the gorge below, specifically named the royal gorge. Diving deep into the unscoutable gorge we made our way through. Getting to Rattlesnake falls that evening i felt pretty fired up and decided to give it another go. Rattlesnake is about 50 plus feet as well. I had a great line to end the first day. Possibly one of the best days of kayaking i had ever had. Looking forward to tommorow, which could possibly be one of the toughest days i have ever had.
Waking up that morning, i felt anxious about two of the notable rapids downstream. Scotts drop, was the first. A forty foot entry with a rowdy exit rapid. This drop had only been run a handful of times, but i felt good about it after watching evan garcia style the entry. Most horror stories of this rapid have all taken place at the first falls, and after watching his line i felt confident i could make the move. Coming into the first drop there is a huge lateral that envelops you while you fall 40 ft. My goal was to embrace this swirl and turn in the air and fall with it to the pool below. YES!!! great success, i ended up in the pool below with my paddle and skirt and body in tact. I charged the second part with everything i had, hit the very last kicker at the bottom......and then it was lights out. the kicker threw me hard right against the wall where i impacted rock at the bottom. I was tucked up and felt my teeth slam against the cockpit of my kayak. Sure enough, the second drop had knocked my teeth out!!!! Bleeding and in pain i knew i needed to get to dentist. I made the choice to paddle out that evening, making it a two day trip once again. Being out there so far from any help was finally sinking in as i paddled the remainder of the 25 miles with busted teeth, bleeding and spitting, as i charged the class 5 below.
Made it out safely that night with a hell of story of my royal gorge experience. Thankfully, my teeth arene't too bad, as i should have them fixed soon. Just on lots of vicadin now, and i'll be back charging next week. Be careful out there in California, because you really are in the wild. Hope you guys in enjoyed this story. Keep charging the swirl.