After our night mission to the Take out Salt Spring reservoir we woke up early (We meaning Sam, Josh, Brendan, Me, Nick and Jimbo) in the morning to run the massive shuttle. Due to the amount of snow pack the normal road was closed which sent us on a long 3-4 hour drive through Kirkwood ski hill to hiway 4 and the put in. We didn't put on the river until 1:30, a late start and got busy on the mank.
Sam Sutton at the end of a mini gorge during day one.
The first few miles of the river are low volume bloudery manky mank but it soon gains tributaries and turns into good solid whitewater. A few fun gorges and some sick nasty cali canyon scenery later you come to the first major section of whitewater of the run. This gorge started out with a sick drop but we were forced to portage because of a phaty log that jamed up all of the flow.
Scouting the first major gorge of the river with the log portage in the background.
After that slideing drop there was some fun boof and big holes that lead down to a small break in the canyon where we set up and stopped for the night. We cooked up some tasty camping food over the fire, which always roars to life in the dry climate.
Kiwi's love to feed on the river B-unit, Josh, and Sam left to right.
I went on a scouting mission to see what was up for tomarrow morning and saw that the river was only going to get better and steeper the next day, what a good feeling.
Our humbel abode amongst the trees and rocks.
Late afternoon clouds rolled into the canyon and gave us a scare that it might rain on us but it cleared up and was a cool stary night.
The next morning It was cold as, and I was up early to re-kindel the fire that was my food and life line. We ate some packs of instant oats andhit the water becuase there was no reason to hang around in the wind getting colder by the minute. Our first rapid was a cool pinch into a slide with a hole at the bottom, nice brain freeze to wake up to. From there on was all granite slides some big some small but two that got the blood flowing.
Sammy on a nice boof in the cold morning.
The biggest drop had a clurler with some sort of object inside it, but out of site so we ran it boosting down into a twisting slide around a big boulder.
Brendan on the biggest slide of the day around the boulder.
We decided that day two was our rally day becuase of our late start the day before, so we got a move on through smoe quality drops and portages around manky stuff and sieves. The sky was overcast making for a freezing cold morning on the river with a stinging wing blasting our faces, made for the coldest day of kayaking I have evr had in this state. Our down stream momentum brought us to the cool mushroom boof that is in some of the classic videos, fun fun.
Me on the mushy boof ride it and avoid the crack.
B doing the same on the classic drop.
After some more steep rapids and a bit of class two moving water through the high Sierra valleys we came upon a big walled in section which we looked at before droppin gin on. There was some tight cool rapids and a good slot boof that lead to a big steep sliding exploding drop that we walked and ate lunch at. Between here and the next gorge was some mellow rapids and some good time to enjoy the place we were in.
A tributary coming in off the top of the canyon sliding to the bottom. Enjoy the place when you're there because you're gone before you know it.
Every time we looked up in the sky we saw air plane due to the size of the air ports in Sac. and surrounding areas. We got a kick out of it because we knew that no one in that plane knows that they are above such an amazing place, us Americans are all about work and business.
R. Sea B-Unit on a fun one of dia dos.
More short exciting gorges and drop lead up to the infamous big portage gorge. People have run this entire section at high flows to varying level of bueno-ness but I was not about to rally in there and huck it.
High and dry is the way to go on alot of cali walking just watch the manzaneda that will get ya.
We walked the whole gorge high left as told to do by many other groups that had done this run in the past. Funasshell boofs and Evan in the front routing continued up to some more mellow waters above a 15 footer with a log in the base that at this point in the 8:30 to 5:00 day I was in no mood to do anything but eat and sleep. After Seeing the next rapid which has never been run we all called it a day and found a sick camp at the bottom of the biggest drop/portage of the run.
Our view from camp two looking at the biggest drop. No body has claimed this one yet but there may be a line...maybe!
Food, rest, talking shit, and dazing out lead us through the night to day three.
Knowing that we covered amazing ground the day before we now could relax, but with none of us knowing the river we still got a good start time and headed downward. The first drop was a doozy. No warm up at all and into a mass of water going down some steeps.
"Good morning Mr. Garcia I'm going to send you deep" Said the monster seam. And down I went
Come on baby hold on, I love it, you know it.
We came upon a nice section of boulder gardens that went for miles until I remembered the horizon line that marked the dreamy fantasy falls.
Me rocking it off of the Fantasy Falls in the morning of day 3.
This drop is da bomb a fun 30-40 tall steep cascade into a nice deep pool. I ran up again and ran this puppy twice with the rool to tuck line. Everybody was all BD up in that thing loving the falling feel.
Joshy H.M. hitting it up down the middle, fire at his tail he sailed threw the air plugging deep.
100 meters down from here is a cool 15-20 footer that you can run anywhere. The canyon is wide and huge by this point in the run and there are massive domes surounding you 360 degrees. This is by far the best day of kayaking on the run where the mank cleans up into amazing drops and slides. Fours main drops to write home about. Fantasy Falls. Then bouldery stuff ;eads you up to the brink of Island drop. A long clean smooth slide that pinches down into a gigantic hole, turns 90 degrees, and goes off another big slide with a hole. It's big and scary trust me on that. We all sat there at the hole and said well maybe until Sam and I decided to give it a go. Sam ran first cleaning the scrizzel out of it.
Sammy in the zone cleaning the line.
Fired me up for the line, so I came in to the pinch hot, caught my nose on a out cropping rock and spun. I hit the hole backwards with speed and surfed right out of there running the rest of the slide.
Thank you Mam!!
OOOut of there, yeah exciting rapid and there was more to come.
Jonny Kerns drop is up after a 1/2 miles of slidey stuff. This is the infamous drop where Jonny says "If I get stuck in that hole I'm swimmin' like a carp." and he did. Sam stepped it up and hit a beautiful line off of it with a late boof.
He was still like "Well I'm glad there's a pool because I may swim here." Champion!
The last Major challange of the mighty Upper North fork. THE THING!!!!! This is the big slide at the end of Fantasy that everybody swims out of. Yes it's hage and scary but clean. The mentality that went in to this one was it looks so fun and big that it worth the swim just to run that powerful of a drop. By this time the river is big with lots of volume so the hole at the end is like the jaws of a beast.
Line it up at the top and get ready for the "THING".
I ran that puppy first from right to left at the top which was a mistake. As soon as I hit the main curent I was swept right by the power, hit "the thing" (a 10 foot wave tail) that is formed by rock formations. Hit the pillow on the right wall scraped down it with my hands, flipped, and hit the hole upside down at the bottom. Sat there in that hole getting blasted and swam like a rainbow salmon.
Surfing in the beast, wow it felt good to be there.
Alot of people like to try and hide it when they crash, like it was fine or something, because they are embarssed that they messed up a line. Well I think it's good to say I didn't do good on that one and ate shit. That's what happened. I was tatally fine nothing wrong with me other than a boat full of water. Nick went and gathered my gear, thanks for the help dog, then we watched Sam fire it up.
Sam ran it far left as possible at the top. Went through the thing on the spot you look for spun a 360 down the slide and made it out the hole at the bottom with a blast of speed and a bit of good luck. I was stoked to see him fire it up and do what I didn't.
At the top further left than I.
At the bottom glad he made it through the hole.
Salt Springs Reservoir we were very tired after the 5 miles of flat water paddling with upstream wind.
Fantasy Falls was one of the best rivers I have ever run there were an uncountable number of good rapids and a fair number of portages that could be runable. Different flows will effect this river in many ways, I think if you are fired up high water is the best and make for the most runable level for everything. You just gotta be ready for some big Vadanrazzy if you know what I mean. We were on our mission and headed stright to Groveland and the Cherry drainage. Keep it real E.G.