Monday, September 19, 2011

Middle Fork of the Kings - MFK B9er!

The Middle Kings is one of those rivers that rates on the top of many of the worlds best kayaker’s hit lists. And after being lucky enough to experience this amazing run last year I was eager to get back in and enjoy the Cali goodness. Beginning our walk at a leisurely 2pm from the Bishop Pass Trailhead, ready for the start of our five day adventure, this time I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as last time and packed plenty of extra chocolate goodies (into Jordy’s back pack who hiked in most of our food up and over the grueling Bishop pass) knowing that they would come in handy on the last couple of days.

And the walk begins... (p. Jordy)

On the walk we took turns alternating the lead along with Taylor Cavin and his team who started at the same time as us.That evening we camped on the Le conte canyon side of Bishop pass about 2000m below the top of Bishop, Well me Snarly, Pruett and the Jugonaut did, the rest slept where they fell and were re united with us in the morning for the final couple hour slog down to the river.

Barny dwarfed (p. Jordy)

Preacher working for it (p. Jordy)

Barny and Preutt almost at the top of Bishop Pass (p. Jordy)

Little Will Preutt (p. Jordy)

No fires above 10,000 feet... we were AT 10,000! (p. Barny)

Putting on mid afternoon we made quick progress through a couple of miles of manky whitewater before Snarly pulled over in dismay after putting a 20cm crack in the base of his boat. Making the tough decision Snarley decided to walk out knowing that he at least had a track to follow at this stage.Gutted to see Charles having to walk out the rest of us carried on our way paddling through some lush meadows making a few more miles progress before pulling in for the evening. The next morning we awoke to the sounds of Taylor Cavins crew. Putting on again we made some quick progress through some some sick slides and rapids before catching Taylor’s crew at the 7 rivers cover drop. All of us decided to give this one a miss apart from Dan the Man Menton who fired it up. In the next 2 minutes I witnessed one of the most full on beat downs I have ever seen as Dan surfed for 40secs before pulling the pin. After having his hands on numerous ropes he finally held on tight to Pruetts miracle bag penduling him in just in time before he swum of the next drop.

Barny going big (p. Smurf)

With our team carrying on it wasn’t long before we came across one of the coolest things I have ever had the opportunity to paddle through. A Snow Tunnel. This epic tunnel had obviously been created by an avalanche earlier in the year and being witness to just how big a snow year Cali had this year was still in full force in the middle of August!!! Getting through the snow tunnel we all were in a state of awe.

Will paddling towards the snow cave (p. Barny)

Below this we made quick progress with us all remembering snippets of what lay downstream. Before long we arrived at the waterfall Gorge where I pulled over to empty my boat feeling as thou it seemed a bit full. Turning it over I soon realized I had a 30cm long crack in the base of my boat. Knowing I was past the point of no return I left my boat to dry in the sun scouted the waterfall Gorge and with the help of the boys applied a layer of bitchothane to the inside of my hull and got back to business. The next few more miles progress we camped at the sweet 'Pruett' camp, a nice spot on river right at the end of a few miles of cruisey whitewater.

Peacher on his maiden voyage down the MFK-B9er!!! (p. Barny)

The following morning we motivated early putting on at 10am, running some good cruisey water for the first few miles. I was happy to be making good downstream progress with my wounded boat. Soon however the intensity picked up and after another couple of miles of chunky whitewater we reached the “BIG BAD BEAVER”. All deciding to give it a look the only one with the fire in his eyes after about half an hour of chilling at the base of the Beaver was Smurf. Avoiding the killer hole on river left with ease Smurf showed us all how this bad boy should be run. Below the Beaver we were in for a few more sweet rapids and a friendly meadow before reaching the towering dome of campsite of Tehipite at 2pm. That afternoon we chilled out knowing the next day would be a big one as we planned on pumping out the 20 mile section of both the bottom 9 and Garlic falls in one day.

I guess Big Bad Beaver had a pool at the bottom, thats
smurfs criteria for running drops! (p. Barny)

Lifestyling (p. Barny)

Tehipite Valley (p. Barny)

The following day we defied all odds and even had preacher on the water by 9am for what we knew would be a big day. We made quick progress through the steep and continuous bottom 9 section, making a few quick portages and us all taking our turns of probing some exciting lines. In the final mile of the bottom 9 I noticed my boat had started to full again but was stoked it had made it. Reaching the confluence at 2pm we chillaxed for an hour before Taylor Cavins crew showed up who we had met again midway through the bottom nine. Throwing our high fives we were all stoked to have made it. Not before the Garlic falls section was done however!! This 10miles is a complete different style after getting of the Kings with a Big water feel that with some cunky holes and hydraulics that keep you on your toes right until the end.

"Charging", Will Preutt. (p. Barny)

Reaching the car at 7pm, we were stoked to see Pruetts pink shorts hanging in the tree. With cold beers all round it was an amazing finish to another Epic cali season!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Middle Fork of the San Joaquin - Devils's Postpile

Missing this run was the most disappointing thing about hurting my ribs in cali, as it was right up there with Fantasy on my personal list of runs to get in cali this year. The boys rallied, as they should, and although Snarley hiked out Barny and Smurf had an amazing trip in there. Here is a breakdown of the trip from Barny and some photos from himself and Smurf.

Like Fantasy, the Devils Post Pile or Middle fork of the San Joaquin was another one of the California classic High Sierra runs that had managed to elude us in 2010.Despite tales of epic portages and locked in gorges, after chatting to Taylor Cavin and Dave Maurier decided I would be silly to give it a miss. Luckily our boy Preacher was easily convinced to drive the put in shuttle and as Jordy was injured he offered to pick us up from the take out saving a 10hr drive to set shuttle and making logistics easy – Cheers Boys!!

Smurf at Rainbow Falls (p. Barny)

Putting on below the 100ft rainbow falls just out of Mammoth the team consisted of myself, Nick Murphy and Snarley Charly. After a late start we paddled a couple miles of whitewater before portaging for about an hour around 2/3rds of the first gorge. Putting back on we were quickly treated to a classic 15footer followed by a couple of sweet boofs.

Snarley making it look good (p. Barny)

Barny ... CHARGING (p. Smurf)

The next rapid was a manky wee line through some boulders and after running it first I eddied out at the bottom to wait for the boys. Sitting at the bottom I looked back to notice Snarley pinned sideways in a manky shoot. Running back up the bank with my throwbag Snarley was easily able to climb out of his boat however his boat was not as keen to budge as he was. After close to 2 hours of trying to get his boat out setting up a range of systems we were broken and it was getting on so we opted to remove whatever we could from the back of his boat. By now the force of the water had caved in the whole rear of his kayak making it impossible to grab his split out. Snarley made the tough decision to walk out and with daylight hours now dwindling myself and Smurf got back on the mission quickly knowing we had a lot of miles to cover if we were to meet our rendayvue with jordy 3 days later.

Morning light... Smurf (p. Barny)

Devil's PP looks amazing (p. Barny)

Tired from yanking on a rope and weary of now paddling what I believe is Californias most committing class V run, we portaged and paddled our way to the end of the 2nd gorge where we set up camp planning on getting an early start with the intentions of catching Taylor Cavins group who we figured were about 7miles ahead of us. The next day we set of at 8.30am, a California early start record and made quick progress down stream. Entering the Boof-a-matic gorge we were under the impression that it all went so followed each other closely. This gorge turned out to be a lot more stout and committing than we predicted with some wide eyes from both of us after immerging from some big holes. Making it through boofamatic with no portages after an hour or so of great boogie and a couple of portages we were stoked to see what looked like a green boat in the distance, Luckily for us it was Taylor ,Daan, Dan and Shannon. Happy to catch them our nerves eased a little linking teams and knowing that now we did not need to run the infamous crucible with just the 2 of us. The rest of the day involved some more classy rapids along with some inventive style portaging requiring some rope work and some crazy in/out of boat action by myself and Daan. That evening we camped before the crucible with the boys laying out a buffet of fresh fish. The following day we got on the water at 9am envisaging a big paddle out.

The Crucible (p. Smurf)

Entering the crucible gorge the commitment factor was more of the style of the Mungo on the 2 day Hoki as opposed to anything I had paddled in California. I guess the reason why I had never seen very many photos from in here is because people are always so focused on doing the job and in awe of the surroundings to think about getting the camera out. Arriving at the Crucible Myself and Daan decided to paddle a high water sneak line down the right before setting safety for the other boys to run the conventional line. The next drop broken arrow was a pretty straightforward boof down the middle. With Taylor discussing the idea of paddling a new line down the centre on the third drop, nick quickly put an end to the confusion firing up the double boof down the right line, I was quick to follow with the rest of the boys firing on down and providing a couple of nice tail stands to wall smears as they emerged through the final hole. At the bottom Taylor charged straight off the 4th drop and we were free.The rest of the day had plenty more amazing drops, coupled with spectacular scenary and a few more intricate portages. This run was action packed and committing with sweet whitewater right to the reservoir.

Barny on some lower boofs (p. Smurf)

Arriving at the lake myself and Daan set about charging the 7mile paddle out with the boys following behind. I did my best to draft the powerful Daan while hitting up every passing boater for a ride. Before long my persistence paid off and a couple of jet skiers set about trying to give us a tow, this wasn’t as efficient as it could have been so they upgraded us to the luxury of the boat.

Lifestyling... golden! (p. Barny)

Arriving at the take out in style Jordy and Snarley continued the trend with cold beers and Chipolte waiting!!! Five hours of driving later and broken we were at the take out of The Middle Kings, setting shuttle for what would be the final run of this epic season!!