After a long flight direct to San Francisco, four kiwis and their boats made it to the States. We got off the plane and into our rental car, and straight to home depot for our roof racks.
The next day we were straight to South Silver for our first taste of granity goodness. We were told not to look at the river and just get on. After three laps down sky scraper we were ready for the next river. The weather dropped to 38 degrees and we were wondering where the Californian heat was.
After meeting up with some locals we were off to the Golden Gate run. We picked up our 5th member of the group and were told Dinkey Creek was in and headed to the river trying to organize a shuttle on the way. We camped near the put in where another group met us and the boys rallied the shuttle in the morning in record time. After a steep walk in with the sun beating down on us, we made it to the river early afternoon. With a crew of eight and luckily a couple of the boys who new the river well, we routed down to our camp before sunset. The people, the river, and our surroundings were amazing. We had a super sweet camp spot across river from some friends who joined us for a fire.
The next day we pulled into the famous “In and Out Burger” where we ordered up a storm, and made our next plan to get on the South Merced the same day. After a couple of pain killers it was read and run down the river until we got tired and decided to camp. We passed a couple of other teams on the river, feeling lucky to have got another good flow.
Driving into Yosemite National Park, we heard through the grapevine that Clavey was in. We headed to the river but no one was around to run a shuttle. We sat at the petrol station on the wifi when a local rolled in and offered to help with our shuttle. We hopped on the river and realized quickly that it was on the low side, thinking it must get better further down. Well it didn’t increase in flow until it met with the Tuolumne River on the end of day two, and we were stoked that our boats stayed together.
The next river on our list was Bald Rock Canyon, so we made the long drive to our friends who drove our shuttle. After two days of outstanding scenery and a couple of bald eagles, we were stoked to see our friends arrive in a boat to pick us up so we didn’t have to paddle 11 miles across the lake. To make sure we used up our time with the hired boat, we used the chilly bin lid as a wake board and found some cliff jumps.
After four back to back multi day trips we were ready for a break, so back to the South Silver and then a day exploring Yosemite National Park. The next river was the San Joaquin. Carl and I took a detour and ended up meeting the rest of the group at the take out after walking twice as long and paddling half as much as the others. We hired another boat to get across the lake. A soak in the hot springs topped our day off.
The next day we started the journey to three rivers where we met up with some other kiwis. We spent the next few days doing runs on Hospital Rock with a big crew. Dinner on Moro rock was outstanding! We explored Sequoia National Park for the day waiting for the East Kaweah to come down. The following day it was at perfect level and we had an epic run down, with good lines by all. After a couple of days in a campground using the washing machine and shower, we were ready for our next mission.
The crew was down to three kiwis and we spent the day doing bombs at Rainbow Springs and getting supplies in Groveland - sausages to cook on the fire, porridge, and cliff bars were our staple diet. After checking levels for Cherry Creek, the boys were keen to get on Upper Cherry. I decided it was too high and hiked into Flintstone camp with supplies. Seven hours later and a near miss with a rattle snake, I made it to the camp and cooked dinner for the boys. Just at dark they arrived at camp after an epic high run on Upper Cherry with few portages.
Another day at Rainbow Springs perfecting our manus (kiwi bombs). Word on the street was that Fantasy was in, so we camped at the put in and ran the shuttle the next day, only to find our friends car had broken down again and the river was too low. Disappointed we had missed it, we went back to Groveland to check West Cherry flows. After walking in the next day, we had an epic day meeting up with some other crews and didn’t even mind the lake paddle out. A friendly boat driver did give us a ride for the last half.
The time we had been dreading had approached, our return flight was one day away. Carl decided to change his flight and stayed in BC Canada to kayak for another three months with a younger kiwi crew. A change from multi days to day runs with a bit of racing in between. He managed to take a couple of wins and collect some prize money to keep the trip going. Too many runs to name, but he paddled the classics like Ashlu, Callahan, Chekamus, Elk, Toby Creek, Yoho, as well as the drainage ditch and Skookumchuck.
I went back to New Zealand for a couple of weeks before heading to Tibet for a Rafting World Cup - which our NZ women’s team won, followed by two weeks in Nepal.
California was some of the best boating ever. We all had the most epic trip and got to run so much good whitewater! That California love - Warm weather, amazing rivers, back to back multi days, cooking on fires, riverside camping, middle of nowhere, life styling. Hard to beat that!
Whiteheads on Whitewater
"California was some of the best boating ever. We all had the most epic trip and got to run so much good whitewater."