Californication

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Jim
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Re: Californication

Post by Jim »

Mark R wrote:Anyone know the Californian attitude to riverside wild camping, e.g. on private land/parks etc?
Aside from Ion's answer (I always got the impression that there are serious access issues on some rivers in the central area, never mind wild camping), there are some other useful things to know:

In most of the forestry areas and even state parks there is relatively cheap "basic" camping (composting toilets but no running water, except the river) beside many rivers. All of them are run slightly differently, typically you take a blank permit from a wooden box, fill it in as best you can and post it in another box along with the correct fee, or what you think is the correct fee. Usually the ranger turns up before you leave and explains which bits you filled in wrong and how you should have calculated the fee.

For multiday paddles in such areas you will need to get a campfire permit (and carry a fire pan) which involves a simple test to check if you know how to keep a camp fire under control and put it out. You need to check with local ranger stations for permits and info about whether there are designated camp spots or if you can camp anywhere. I think by definition this can only be done where there is no vehicular access, so not an option as part of the day to trip road trippin' element.

In Yosemite you can only camp on the organised campsites, and you need to book in advance, probably last month (bearing in mind some may still be snowed in....). There is a campsite at Red Bud by the Merced - my memory of that is that we blagged in without a booking and had to be extra well behaved, if it's run by the same ranger he flies a bear republic flag from his camper so is presumably a character. The bonus is that it's right by the river. There is also a hostel a few miles away (something bug?) which does food, I don't think we stayed there but it looked OK.
For the lower Tuolumne we used the commercial campsite/caravan park just outside of Groveland although I think there may be a forestry site of some kind at the put in?
Chamberlain falls has a campsite at the put in, Goodyear bar has one at the takeout, the Kern has about 3 along it (and another at the hot springs below lake Isabella) - there really are loads of cheap riverside spots, I don't think wild camping from the car would really be necessary?

And if you are camping wild or in forestry sites, best find a picture of some poison oak to show the first timers before they get covered in the sap....

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Re: Californication

Post by ion »

Jim wrote:And if you are camping wild or in forestry sites, best find a picture of some poison oak to show the first timers before they get covered in the sap....
Jim hits on perhaps the single most important thing the UK visitor to Cali needs to know, sure we got bears...they'll eat your food, sure we got rattlesnakes...they'll bite you if you are a fool with them, but MOST IMPORTANT we've got Oak (of the non Sherwood forest variety) in abundance at altitudes 0-4000ish feet. Poison Oak is endemic through out California...its all the same plant but depending where you are it could be a little foot long twig to a 10 foot tree, small leaves or big, green leaves or red, or possibly no leaves yet early season. Google it, know what it looks like, go find some when you get here and REALLY learn what it looks like. Some people appear to be pretty immune (I apparently am one) others much less so. If you have a reaction to this plant its a month of misery you will not forget, I have multiple friends who have needed steroid injections after misadventures of the bush wacking variety that involved unavoidable Oak. The number one recommended over the counter treatment is Zanfel and its very pricey, next is Technu. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure..cover flesh with clothes, wash the clothes after in detergent that breaks down oils. If you think you have been exposed wash promptly with soap, dish detergent is awesome though not the most friendly thing to the river. Don't let it spoil your trip, we live with it every day, its no problem if you are aware. Your mantra is "Leaves of three, let it be" you'll see why when you look at the pictures, there are no exceptions luckily to this useful identification hint...except in Winter when it has no leaves.

http://poisonivy.aesir.com/view/pictures.html

(Don't worry about poison Ivy, same chemical, different plant, different part of the country.)

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siwiles
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Re: Californication

Post by siwiles »

Sod the poison oak. We bushwacked through enough undergrowth to have Nam flashbacks. Its the rattlers that scare me.... But you probably wont see any so you'll be ok.....

My favorite memory was a portage on west cherry, one of the guys says watch out for that bush, its rattling at you.... I still had my earplugs in so was oblivious to the angry rattler... I now remove my earplugs in snake country.

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Re: Californication

Post by The Drowned Fish »

I thought Dave's bear phobia was paranoia, but after reading this lot I'm getting really scared.

Simon

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Re: Californication

Post by ol »

Folk wrote:.....Nam flashbacks...............we got rattlesnakes.........Poison Oak is endemic through out California.........we got bears......a month of misery you will not forget...........gun waving drug fabricating methamphetamine addict land owners .........lynching..........your burning cars being pushed into the river............angry rattler.............
Hmmm, looking like fun ;-)

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Re: Californication

Post by kevinf »

You forgot the Mountain Lions!

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Re: Californication

Post by Mark R »

Ion - or anyone? - do you know please, what the Kern River drainage is doing at the moment?

Trying to decide whether to meet up there or at the American River drainage, but of course the Kern has no online gauges.

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Re: Californication

Post by Jim »

Mark R wrote:Ion - or anyone? - do you know please, what the Kern River drainage is doing at the moment?

Trying to decide whether to meet up there or at the American River drainage, but of course the Kern has no online gauges.

Cheers,
I'm sure there was a gauge for Fairview Dam when I was last out there..... I'll see what I can find.

This is on the local paddle shop's website, current flows look pants but if I'm reading it right they are saying that they have had recent snowfall that makes the season look promising?
http://www.sierrasouth.com/news.htm

If all else fails, just contact Sierra South, the shop is on the river bank, they run raft trips and have a slalom course and stuff just outside the shop so they are quite keyed in to state of the river....

Dreamflows http://www.dreamflows.com/flows-canv.php still has some Kern data on it, takes a while to relate it to the sections though, I think pretty much that "above Borel powerhouse" tells you what is in the river between Fairview Dam and the Powerhouse (just outside Kernville), but I don't think there is a gauge for the sections above Fairview which will have more water (including the forks section). The local creeks aren't gauged, we just got info by calling into the shop when I was last there.

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Re: Californication

Post by Mark R »

Cheers Jim.

Anyway, I think we're pretty much now decided on starting at the American River.
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Re: Californication

Post by ion »

Mark R wrote:Ion - or anyone? - do you know please, what the Kern River drainage is doing at the moment?

Trying to decide whether to meet up there or at the American River drainage, but of course the Kern has no online gauges.

Cheers,
Sorry Mate, Been in Chamonix for a long weekend and just got back....Kern is just starting to ramp...the gauge you would be interested in is labeled "North Kern" on Dreamflows (http://www.dreamflows.com/graphs/day.104.php). I'd say that todays flow (~900) is not worth rushing there for...it will build in the coming days, 1500+ then its worth the visit....Dry Meadow and Brush Creek are going down there now though. American drainage is looking good, I expect the NF American to stay good for the next 2 months now, and upper sections on the SF (Lovers Leap/Kyburz/Peavine) will begin building if the temps stay warm the next few days, there may even be some early season South Silver before it gets too big. I'll PM you my email and telephone in case you need any beta whilst you're here, and I might even be up for some paddling, my crew is going a little bigger than my back is feeling so far this year. I'll try to take a long look at the flows and post something back latter, need to catch up on work first.
-ian

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siwiles
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Re: Californication

Post by siwiles »

Mark, I'll send you Alex's email, he should be rafting down on the Kern when its in season, so should be able to let you knwo what is happening down there.

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Re: Californication

Post by S.P. »

Hi ion ,I've arrived in sf and cant seem to find any one stocking a nomad .If you know anyone with one for sale ?Have registered on boof but am still waiting to go live.Any creeker except Jefe and Jackson considered. Cheers Stuart

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Re: Californication

Post by ion »

S.P. wrote:Hi ion ,I've arrived in sf and cant seem to find any one stocking a nomad .If you know anyone with one for sale ?Have registered on boof but am still waiting to go live.Any creeker except Jefe and Jackson considered. Cheers Stuart
Stuart, sent you a PM, give me a call, I'm sure I can help somehow.
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Re: Californication

Post by Mark R »

Hi all, having a great time so far, but the weather has turned cold and rainy (it was 80 degrees for the first few days) so we're a bit slow in setting out today.

Had various adventures on the North and South Fork of the American River, as well as the North Fork of the Yuba - group paddling really well, only one swim (a stopper pasting for Mr D***d S****m).

Highlight was Giant Gap of the NF American - I paddled this in 2002 and convinced myself at the time that it wasn't too tricky, and we agreed it wasn't all that good - we renamed it 'Giant Flat'. We must have had our heads stuck firmly up our arses, because it's quite exceptional - loads and loads of pushy uninspectable 4+ in a very long walled-in canyon. A bit harder than the group were counting on, but they coped admirably!*

Anyway, better rally the troops to get out on the river...

Mark Rainsley

*They had no choice.

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Re: Californication

Post by ion »

Mark,If not wanting to drive too far but tiring of the American you might take a look at sections of the East Branch North Feather along Hwy-70, bunch of class 3&4 there. Its not Giant Gap quality but less trodden territory for out of state visitors. Also low water on the Tobin section of the North Feather, again very road side, can't miss it a sea of large granite boulders. It all goes 250+cfs but route finding once you are in there is intricate and there are a few places "you don't want to be" but its super fun 4+/5- at current flows. Also Spanish Creek in the same are (one V+ portage) otherwise mostly class 3.
Also Upper SF Yuba if it warms up a little, super (dangerously) cold water but very easy access and quality stuff. (http://www.dreamflows.com/guides/Yuba/Summit/index.php)
If you head south, NF Stanislaus, again cold water but good granite class 4 stuff (http://cacreeks.com/stan-nf.htm)

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Re: Californication

Post by Diamond Dave »

Has anyone had any experience with travelling around California on public transport with kayak (& probably a big bag or two...)?
Can they be accepted on the Greyhound/Trains? If so is it fairly easy or a whole load of hassle?
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Re: Californication

Post by S.P. »

Hi, I'm in Tahoe region until wednesday looking to paddle the chamberlin run or anything else of 1V. Anyone interested I've got transport. Cheers, Stuart 7073641560

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Re: Californication

Post by Mark R »

We're all back/in the process of flying back now.

Great trip - I forgot just how gorgeous Cali is, how wild it can be, and just how great the medium volume G4-5 rivers are. Group paddled really well on generally harder rivers than our 2008 India trip - some nerves on display, but no lack of skill. Only two of us escaped swims and there were a few spectacular beatdowns, but the only casualties were a lost paddle and a dinked helmet. Really enjoyed paddling with the team, a fun chilled out bunch.

Photos/notes to follow ad nauseum ....
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Re: Californication

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We arrived in two groups at LA and San Francisco, and both got given really small hire vehicles, despite both having booked monster trucks - this was apparently something or other to do with the economy. We joined up at the South Fork of the American River and paddled this Grade 3 bimble as a warm-up. We were joined by UK ex-pat Marc Musgrove for the day.

We were also re-acquainted with the pointless vastness of American meals, and met bikers and hummingbirds.

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Re: Californication

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Day 2 - we relocated to camp beside the North Fork of the American River near Colfax, and ran the G4 Chamberlain Falls section. This (and pretty well everywhere else we paddled) was Gold Rush country, with 'established 1849' signs everywhere and a few mining remnants to be seen along the banks.

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Re: Californication

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Day 3 - Giant Gap of the NF American. As noted above, this was much better/more intense/harder than I recall from 2002, and was certainly a trip highlight. It's basically a deeeep canyon which sometimes narrows to a few metres wide (with 1200cfs flowing through!) and has many powerful unportageable/uninspectable G4+ rapids. You have to walk in 2 miles, descending 1500 feet. I made things harder by forgetting the way and as a result, some of us ended up launching too far upstream on a gnarly trib by a hidden mining shack. Our legs hurt for days afterwards!

In the afternoon, a weather front arrived and we paddled in the rain, ending up all huddled in my group shelter for warmth at one point. Landing back at our campsite, we were dismayed to discover that our $30 Wal-Mart tents had blown down/leaked. We recuperated by trying (and failing) to eat the largest pizzas known to man, in Colfax.

I couldn't really get any pics in the meat of the 'Gap' as it was all a bit lively and tricky to stop/ inspect/ grab camera. A classic run though, you'll just have to take our word for it.

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Re: Californication

Post by Mark R »

Day 4 - it pissed down all night, and in the morning we made a dash for the cars and headed north. The SF Yuba was too low still, so we went to Downieville on the North Fork Yuba, a rather splendid 'old west' town, population 330. We checked into a great cheap motel by the river (the owner practically begged us to stay) and became full citizens of Downieville over the next few days - in the bar, grocers, cafe ... everyone knew who we were and what we were up to! Sadly the weather was crap for the duration of our stay, with constant rain and low temperatures - perversely cold weather lowers the river levels, not rises them.

On this day we paddled the Goodyears Bar section of the NF Yuba - not bad, pooldrop Grade 3, 4 and 5. We didn't find any gold in the river, although apparently it's full of the stuff.

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Re: Californication

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Day 5 - still in rainy Downieville. We paddled on the Sierra City section of the NF Yuba above town - G4 but could have used more water to be at its best. A few of us did the Rossasco Canyon section that follows on, this is a short blast of Grade 4 and 5 and portages.

Later we hit the (ever so slightly scary) bar.

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Re: Californication

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Day 6 - we paddled Lavezzola Creek, a Devon-style ditch which runs into Downieville. We were also going to paddle nearby Pauley Creek, but it was a bit on the low side so we hit the road and finally escaped Downieville. We thought long and hard about where to go next (cheers for the ideas Ion) and eventually decided to head to the Coast Ranges in the north of the state for a few days. Cue 4 hour drive north to Weaverville...



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Re: Californication

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Day 7 - up north in the back end of nowhere! We turned up at the Trinity River and tried our hand at Burnt Ranch Gorge. Running at 1400 cfs, this is a fairly burly G4+/5 paddle with big churning rapids created by massive jumbled rocks - with plenty of nasties around like siphons and suchlike. The crux is a series of three Grade 5 rapids/ falls in the heart of the gorge - upper/middle/lower Burnt Ranch Falls.

How did it go? Well, we had an amazing start when we found ourselves eddied out right beside a huge Bald Eagle at the entrance to the gorge. He and his mate (and a couple of Golden Eagles too) watched us through the first few falls from just metres away, incredible. All went well paddling the gorge until the final biggie, Lower Burnt Ranch. We approached trip meltdown here, with the fall dishing out some nasty beatings and several swims - this very big gnarly rapid couldn't be portaged! No one was hurt however, and we reassembled ourselves to finish the trip tired and mentally fried, but elated.

We camped at Willow Creek, which is a very small town near nowhere at all.


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Re: Californication

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Day 8 - a rest day after Burnt Ranch Gorge! Well, sort of. We paddled the Grade 3 section of the Trinity River from Pigeon Point to Big Flat (the name of the takeout kind of says it all). Bizarrely, a couple of our better paddlers took swims on this section - simply too tired from the day before. Lame but hilarious.

In the evening we headed deeper into the wilds, following the Klamath River (along the Bigfoot Highway) past the Hoopa Indian Reservation Lands to Somes Bar, which is basically a grocery store in the middle of some big empty mountains.

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Re: Californication

Post by Mark R »

Day 9 - the Cal Salmon, a fantastic Grade 4+ run in the wilds of godknowswhereexactly. This had about twice as much water as last time I paddled (and dismissed) it and it was an absolute classic. Beautiful canyons, a wide variety of rapids, perfect.

Two things stood out from this paddle - firstly that among the most solid group members, Andy L, had an inexplicably awful day and managed to swim the full length of the two gnarliest rapids (he destroyed his Sweet Rocker) and secondly, that my wife paddled like a demon and made me well proud (okay, I'm biased - but somewhere along the line she's got quite good at this paddling stuff).

In the evening, we headed further north (saw elk en route) into the wonderful 'Siskiyou Wilderness' and ended up at the weird Indian/redneck community of Happy Camp, camping at a disused site outside this 'town'.

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Re: Californication

Post by Mark R »

Day 10 - we checked out Clear Creek, a fantastic remote G4+ trip in the Siskiyou wilds that I've done before. Only Simon was keen to take it on (among other things it includes a walled in uninspectable G5 gorge) so as it was just the two of us, he and I walked in and just did the top section, climbing out before the gorge.

We then all regrouped and with regret, left the wilds - we started the big journey back south towards the Sierra Nevada, winding up in a bland motel in a bland town somewhere.

Weird weather on this day - we found ourselves inspecting falls in blazing warm sunshine, and a blizzard at the same time.


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Re: Californication

Post by siwiles »

Looks like you all had a fantastic time..... they are all great runs you did!!!

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Re: Californication

Post by Mark R »

Day 11 - we carried on travelling south until we finally rocked up at the Tuolumne River. We planned an overnight on this, and sorting out the epic shuttle took all afternoon - poor Ol and Andy had 2.5 hours of driving poor tracks and shifting gear around. By the time they returned, we just had time to paddle a short way down the Tolumne and camp.

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