November 14, 2005

South Fork of the Yuba, take 1

Levels: 1,500 cfs @ SF Yuba

We woke up in the misquito infested area along the NF Yuba, which has lots of poachable campsites FYI, and headed to the very next watershed over, the classic South Fork of the Yuba, 49 to Bridgeport.

I heard before going out there to not underestimate that run, which Stanley and Holbeck give a class IV-V @ 1,500 cfs. Well, I couldn't help but put on passively while looking around at all those huge white granite boulders everywhere around the put-in, definetly one of the prettiest put-in sites I've been to. I quickly found, as did all of us, that the run was much more powerful than we thought, and as eastern boaters, we found the water level really high.

Though the run was pretty much just go with the flow, we still found the run much harder than the guidebook described. Especially when we got to the lower gorge about 1-2 miles from the take-out. The boulders eased off and the sweeping flow of granite bedrock filled the riverbed. This definetly made for some of the best slides of the trip, but also gave us some of the best hole rides of the trip.

John in the lower gorge
Photo Adam Griffin

Nick in the lower Gorge

Photo Adam Griffin

Nick below another big slide

Photo Adam Griffin

One in particular, called Corner Pocket we later found out, gave us all a good ride, except John who scouted it for us, go figure. John jumped out on a cliff side and told us to just stay in our boats and he would give us hand signal directions. The hand signal we got translated to,"It's really big, but good! Two drops, go right, then further right." We all looked at each other not wanting to go first, finally Adam stepped up and peeled out. The rest of us watched John for an update on Adam's run. John gave the "Hold" sign, as if Adam was in trouble, then gave the "Good to go" sign. I thought whatever and peeled outjust wanting to get below the rapid.

John disappearing in Corner Pocket

Photo Adam Griffin

I soon found myself plugging deep into a huge hole. Rolling up in the backwash and getting pummeled for a second, I exited the rapid. John was still on the cliff giving the "No good, don't go" sign, then after he saw me in the pool below, he gave the other guys a "Good to go" sign. Adam and I watched Brian and Jeff come flying down the rapid and go right into the corner pocket, get spun around for a minute, then wash up into the pool below.
We paddled the rest of the way out of the gorge, getting pummeled in another huge rapid that was really a piece of shit, and pulled up on about a 100 swimmers and sunbathers at the take-out.

One excellent thing about Cali is you know you're getting close to the car when you see nude sunbathers. And the really fun thing is that it's a gambleas to the quality of the sunbather. Sometimes you find a cute girl with big knockers, other times it's an old man with a wrinkly penis to show you. Good for laughs either way.


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