Monday, September 9, 2019

Notes From an Oregonian: California (May 23 - June 1, 2019)

Tick check along the Trinity headwaters.

***Here are some notes from a recent trip to California.***

Sacramento (Box Canyon)
May 25

This is a great run, and maximally convenient when heading to the Sierra's from Oregon.  I am pretty certain this is the only shuttle I have run along I5.  It had many class IV rapids and some ledges in a beautiful section of stream.  We did the full run down to Dunsmuir at what I gathered from the Box Canyon Facebook Group was a level of around 5.5'.  This flow felt medium.  I would choose doing the full run every time.  Paddling under Mossebrae Falls was pretty cool and there were plenty of enjoyable rapids on the lower part of the run.

Campsite: Steve's house in Los Molinos (530) 519-1040

Food:  Camp food

Mill Creek
May 26

We camped at Steve's house, who is the go-to guy for running shuttles on Mill Creek.  He is a generous guy, with plenty of space to throw down a number of tents.  There were a cacophony of sounds that night likely exacerbated by a storm rolling through, including a cow mourning a lost calf, the thunderstorm itself, wind blowing metal structures repetitiously, and mid-night bass practice at a nearby party made for a long night.  This would all be fixed with ear plugs, which I'll be bringing on any future rural-residential camping trips.  The overnight rain brought the creek up to over 4,000 cfs which was higher than we wanted to run it, so we drove south to Pauley Creek.  Priscilla and I would return one month later to paddle Mill Creek.  Be sure to get your gas in Red Bluff or Chico, Los Molinos does not have gas.

Pauley Creek
May 26

This is a fantastic little creek, and probably cracks my top ten repeatable runs list.  It felt like it belonged in Oregon, except that the rapids were more sustained than is typical for where I'm from.  The ratio of fun:stress was extremely favorable.  We split into two groups for the run as we had a lot of boaters.  There was one hickup when two from the "let's route it" group pinned on a log.  They were able to get out ok, but I was happy to have elected to be in the second group who were scouting blind corners.  I really liked the town of Downieville along the NF Yuba near Pauley Creek, and I would be happy as a clam spending a whole week there, boating and mountain biking. 

Picking up the pieces on Pauley Creek.

Campsite: Rocky Rest Campsite, it is a pay site 39.513368, -120.977775

Food:  We ate at the bike shop in Downieville.  They had kayaker friendly pricing, and WIFI.

SBMF Feather 
May 27

This was a cool place, I did not boat the run, but others did.  I think I figured out a gauge more relevant than the Milsap gauge for this one.  After gathering data and consulting with some California experts, we determined Spanish Creek nr Quincy is indeed a reasonable correlation to use in most years as a starting point for guessing flows, though a final a visual check is still required to ascertain levels.  From what we gathered from 15-20 data points the following is a starting point for guessing flows:

Low 150 -250
Med:250 - 350
High: 350 - 450

 The run takes a long time for most groups, and even with someone who knew the run it took over 8 hours for the group who did the run at what they called a high flow a day after heavy rain.  Reportedly, the ferry above 199 problems is the crux at high flows and genuinely frightening.  They paddled the creek the next day as well and it was a more favorable med-high flow and the ferry above 199 was not scary.

Working on reducing the length of the hike out.

Campsite: Pinchard Creek, the last small tributary crossed on the way to the South Branch put in.  Free, plenty of room.  39.713635, -121.174839

Food: Camp food, this is a long way from any food you can pay for.

NF Feather (Tobin + Lobin)
 May 28/29

A staple of the California boating scene.  Priscilla and I had been there a few years ago for the festival and were scare-mongered from putting on the river on that trip.  It was nice to return and see that the run was just as manageable as it had looked from the road. The flow was 1200-1300 which seemed good.  Lobin was filled in compared to what we had seen during the festival.  Some of the boofs were covered, and there were a couple long pushy rapids that I hadn't remembered at low flows that were as good as anything on Tobin.

Campsite: The big spot where everyone camps for FeatherFest, it's free. 

Food: Camp food supplemented with some fish.  Then Sierra Nevada Brewing on the way out.  Fairly priced, but not cheap.

Tangle Blue Creek
May 30

A run I had heard about from Bryanna Lyons, who said it was full of 5-ish foot ledges.  It was.  Zach, Ben and I had a good time working our way down this obscure class IV creek in the headwaters of the Trinity River drainage.  1,000-1,500 cfs in the Trinity above Coffee Ck seems like the sweet spot.

Campsite: Just far enough from the highway that the river drowns out the noise of any passing vehicles, and made for a nice take out for Tangle Blue Creek. 41.222966, -122.646949. 

Food: Camp food.

Trinity (Headwaters)
May 30
After getting off Tangle Blue Creek, we ate lunch and headed up to paddle the Trinity back to camp.  We scouted out the headwaters and were pretty excited by what we saw.  We decided to paddle a short section to get a feel for the run before returning to do the whole thing the next day.  Priscilla hurt her shoulder in the third rapid so she and I hiked off while Zach and Ben continued downstream through bouldery rapids.  The section from Cedar Creek to Picayune Creek has the most bedrock and has class V.  The stretch downstream of the Little Trinity to the confluence with Blu Tangle was open class IV.  The rest was bouldery and tough on boats.  Walking on the banks was easy.  1,000-1,500 cfs in the Trinity above Coffee Ck seems like the sweet spot.

Campsite: Another spot along the Trinity 41.183782, -122.656579

Food: Camp food. 

Kidder Creek
May 31
Ben had raved about Kidder Creek, and this was one of our "must do's" of the trip.  Flows were a fair bit lower than his last trip, so we only did one lap but even at ELF flows it was a good time.   The Scott gauge was around 1200, but that's only a rough indicator of what you will see in Kidder.

Food: We ate at Dotty's in Etna, a nice burgers and shakes place.

Darin Mcquoid

May 31
After Kidder Creek, we ate lunch and Zach investigated what else we could do in the area.  Patterson was very low and the road was gated so he directed us to Shackleford Falls, which ended up being a fun park and huck at the low flow.  There was still a pocket on the left to be avoided, so we were studious about safety, but it proved easy to stay safe at this flow.

Campsite: A roadside spot along the Scott River that doubled as a nice put-in.  41.634000, -123.093322

June 1

I had done this run once a number of years ago.  An overnight rainstorm led to many of us waking up in puddles, and high water.  A few of us decided to paddle while many decided to head home (it was our last day of that trip).  We put in below the landslide rapid, Joni Randall and I and followed Lucas Glick as he read-and-ran the river, I think the hole in White House is still the largest hydraulic iv'e ever seen in a rapid I was running.

This time around things were at medium-low flows of 1,000 cfs on the Scott Gauge, which was enjoyable.  We got the shuttle situation all boggled up but after 2 hours returned from what ended up being a 6 mile shuttle (we had driven over 40 miles) to a worried Ben and Priscilla.  The take out for the short section we had been looking for is at Townsend Gulch (41.688529, -123.083061).

The landslide rapid ended up being not too hard, but blind.  I scouted from a brushy island to the right twice and gave verbal beta.  Ben and Zach ran down the main flow, Priscilla and I took a line with a couple boofs on the right at the crux.

The next 6 miles were classic, mostly IV with a couple IV+ or V- rapids.  We scouted White House as a group, and one other time Priscilla hopped out to give us the line.  We all really enjoyed the run. 

Campsite: We made the drive home to Salem, after a pit stop at OTT's 50 year anniversary party in Grants Pass.

Food: Five Mary's Burgerhouse in Fort Jones.  I'd go back, meals were in the $15 range.  This seems like the hot spot as far as date night goes in Fort Jones.