December 01, 2005

Middle Fork Feather, Devil's Canyon

Level: 1,300 cfs @ Milsap Bar
Date: ca. June 15

We decided to hit this classic overnight run after the SF Yuba. This was my second trip on it and the other's first trip down. For them, it was their first overnight trip in their kayaks, and last year this same river proved to be my first overnighter in my kayak.

Adam Griffin gave the commentary for this run:

"The Middle Fork Feather was one of the runs that we had to do before returning to Tenn. After spending a day driving north to Millsap Bar and packing up our boats, everyone was very anxious to get up to the put-in to camp.

Since this was the first overnighter for three of us, packing up your stern was very stressful because you didn’t want to forget anything. After the trip we realized that it is similar to backpacking in the sense that you always pack unnecessary things but never enough booze.

At the put-in we found a guy camping/ living off of his motorcycle. It would be impossible to describe him so I will just say that he made all of us very uncomfortable so we decided to put on and paddle to the closest beach to camp. We found what we hoped for about a mile from the put-in on river left, a sweet beach with tons of driftwood.

After a cold night of rest and an awesome breakfast, we slid into the river we knew would exceed its reputation as one of the best overnighters period.

We paddled approx. 10 miles to our campsite for the night which was hidden by a boulder field. Since we arrived by early afternoon, we spent the rest of the day sleeping, fishing, lying and eating. The water that day was flat with no memorable rapids but the scenery diffused all adrenaline needs. The next morning brought anticipation of quality ww and camping on the platform in the middle of Devils Canyon.

After making it thru Franklin Canyon quickly by shoulder scouting most everything, the weather began to change for the worse. Before committing to Devil’s Canyon, we thought it best to get out and have lunch. At this point the weather was getting very bad; it was overcast, very windy and rainy and the temperature dropped close to 20 degrees in less than an hour. None of us were prepared or dressed for cold weather (Cali in June?) so our lunch turned into a scurry to build a fire before all the wood was soaked. While warming by the fire and eating, I convinced everyone that it was going to be a cold, wet, potentially hypothermic night in there and we needed to make some serious take-out motion.

Warming up by a fire after Franklin Canyon

Photo AG

We guess that there was about 12-15 miles from our lunch spot to the take out, with the last few being 3-4, so we would be fine if we could get there by dark.

We bombed to the take out and seldom looked back. Nick remembering the portage was critical to getting out. Most of it was a blur but a few highlights were: unmatched scenery inside of Devils, John’s pin, me pulling my skirt, Helicopter (awesome rowdy rapid), the platform we had hoped to camp at (compete with prayer flags) and John finally satisfying his position as team probe.

At Millsap Bar we were greeted in the dark by a nice family who shared their fire, hot food and women, oh wait that was only Bryan. This was followed by the Benz, fully loaded making the sketchy drive out of Millsap in a downpour and then heavy snow back to the put in where we ended an epic day warm and dry.

We were disappointed we didn’t get to spend the typical three days in there but we will be back. At the take-out I couldn’t help but think about Bald Rock which we knew would be coming in soon. The M.F. Feather exceeded it scenic reputation although we very seldom looked at anything other than the next boof. "

The only thing I could add to that is that Adam's skirt pull was one of the more horrific swims I have seen in a while. He went upside down thru and entire chunky boulder garden rapid where the rocks were definetly in play. Good to know that the Watershed Drybags kept everything dry as John and Brian chased the boat down.

I guess I could also add that the drive out of the canyon via Milsap road was very terrifying and involved everyone sitting on my hood to balance the weight in the car (to keep from bottoming out) and getting directions from Adam and Brian at the same time, each with their own plan. It was great to be in Quincy buying a beer at the Safeway, a store we would come to know all too well in the next days to come...


At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Video link not working.


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