Monday, July 09, 2007

Devils Postpile of the Middle San Joaquin

Nervous as hell we got to Mammoth Lakes early in the morning at 2:00 am after meeting the crew and running shuttle. To run shuttle you must drive down to Mammoth pool reservoir, go back to the hiway drive through Yosemite and over Tioga pass, meet hiway 395 on the east slope and go to Mammoth. We woke up and checked the level by hiking to Rainbow falls and the put in of the run.

I don't have any photos of this run but there could be some coming soon...

For tons of good photos and more stories go to Derin's D.P.P. Upadate

The level looked lower than the 7 rivers expedition but still a bit high. We all were in and excited to get on the river but due to drive time we had to wait for the rest of the group and stalled until the next day when we put on at 7:30 am. The run starts off slow by gains momentem off a cool drop with two tiers. The next bit of the river was ricter steep and a big portage. High and dry on the right bank just keep walking for all most 1-2 miles. You can run some drops in between sieves and rocky portages but it is fastest and easy to just walk down to a nice looking gorge with a fun boof at the bottom of it. After that the run pick up, cleans up, and has some great drops in it. The sick double drop is tossed in there somewhere and some sketcky boulder drops are very abundent. We had a crew that was on fire and ready to make good time down stream so we were having fun walking and running cool mini gorges and drops. Charlie ran a big set of drops with a boxed out hole and mank sieves in it but made it through with style.

After this gorge is where the run is one of the best in the world. There is a small portage and then big drops lead up to the pothole drop to slide that Tommy ran in 7rivers. We opted out of running the enterence and sea lanched in above the slide. Everybody made it threw fine but Darin who had one of the worst bits of carnage I have ever seen. He went down a 60-70 foot long slide on his face and hit a huge wall-fan rock upside down, caught air and landed back on his face. When I saw him roll up I was surprised that he was not in pieces. All the body armor and full face helmet payed off this day.

Below that drop comes a nice set including Clay Wrights death pin slide. Rush had a close call there thanks to me, I was in the eddy at the top and it looked fine like a simple six foot slide. I sat and told him the first one to come down that middle looked good and he melted a seam deep. It looked wired so I sent everybody else left. Then I reilized below that it was in fact the same drop that Clay screwed himself on.

From here on is kind of a blur to me but there is tons and tons of sick drops. There is a gorge with a big rapid we walked into a nice 20 footer. After that there is a cool mini gorge with a tripple boof with some sticky holes that was very fun. A few miles of class III-IV and a log portage later the river pinched down into an insane commiting gorge. There was a team work style portage around a rock mess that lead into a couple cool drops. Boof-a-matic comes next. This is my favorite drop of the run. It is as classic as Cherry bomb or any other drop in California. It was also way bigger than it looks in videos, great lines all around and we were off.

The next drop in this gorge were some of the most stout drops I have ever run blind. This is also where I reilized how crazy and good Taylor Robertson is at kayaking. Charlie scouted the first drop and gave the g-t-g paddle hard. Tay went and we followed. This rapid is insane. A big stompy 10 boof in to the tightest slot canyon I have been in over a fast sluce slide off a boof into a big hole. We then found ourselves in a moving pool above a scary horizon line. Scoot told us that Charlie had a lready looked at this one too, but when he came down he hadn't! Being the monkey Charlie is he found a way to get out and climb to where he could see it. 2 boofs and one massive hole that almost everyone got spanked in. Relieved to be out of the gorge we passed Fish creek that was putting in tons of water making it not so much of a creek any more. We made incredible distance on day 1 and slept in a nice woodsy area with a nice fire and mountain house's to fed us. Portage total for day 1: 18.

Day 2 was very short and the most relaxing day of the run. There were some good drops and a few mandatory portages that lead up to the confluence of the north fork. That was when we encountered the first fake Curcible. A few of us ran down stream and saw that we were wrong and it was just another commiting canyon. We continued down stream until reaching Miller's crossing and met a few hikers that gave us solid beta about the whereabouts of the Ballon dome gorge. We floated some good rapid down to another crossing and the site of a massive umportageable gorge. We stopped there for the day while I ran 1-2 mile downstream to scout the gorge. We were scared that the water was high and the Curcible would be terrifing so we were not just dropping into any gorge. I found out that it was the second fake C-gorge. But I did get a good view and could easley see where the C-gorge was. We still called it a day and had a sick camp site and enjoyed the coolest river canyon I have ever been in. We munched out on good food and called it an early night.

Tyler and I floating mid air below the Crucible. Photo by Scott Liage

Day 3: I will give the short story of. We started out doing a few long portages and made it down to the C-gorge. We were all mentally ready for the challange and dropped in. There is no way to scout or portage this section so if your going to do this run accept the fact that you have to do this gorge. It starts off with some bald rock style drops then goes off the hook steep over a few portages. The next rapid has never been run all the way through but I think we ran it from as far up as possible. There was a tight slot at the bottom with a log blocking it, we boofed over the log and went through a boily hole. There is a nice sloper boof that leads into the famous last drop of the Curcible. Left Left Right.... thats all we knew. Thats what we did. It was pretty scary and I was peaked out. Every one made it through and we were happy to be out of there. The runs not over not even close. There was tons of portages and big rapids, and gorges that were just as scary as the C-gorge. I'm going to shorten this up a lot... lots of miles and walking sessions later we were at the lake and man was it good to see the lake. It normally takes 4 days to complete but with Tay and a huge 1st and 3rd day we were out of there. It was a sunday afternoon so most of us caught rides on fishing boats with families but Rush and Ben paddled the entire 7 miles out with an angry uplake wind. We met injered Jered at the boat ramp and the plan were in action to do the Middle Kings!!!!!

This is one of the best trip and rivers I have ever done. It is the most serious run I can think of. A small mistake could be bad news so if you're thinking of doing this stay on your game and work as a team all the way down the river. Scout all the time becuase the style of river bed is mostly sievey. It is amazing and quite doable and with 30 total portages is it perfect for the right group of paddlers. Later E.G.

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