The whole time I was running around in Oregon/Washington I was getting harassed by my best friend, Cheese, to come to Idaho and do his home river at record high flow. He lives in McCall, ID only 45 miles from the put in of the infamous North Fork of the Payette. Hearing him tell stories of 15 foot tall waves and man eating seems, I wanted to go, but was scared to say the least. Big water has always been a passion of mine, but steep creeking and waterfalls have become my forte. Even after trips down the Rio Baker, Stikine, Futa, Nile, Zambezi, Fear Canyon on the Elaho, and many more big water trips, I still had goose bumps thinking of this particular river with so much water.
The North Fork is 15 miles of continuous steep class V whitewater. At this level I knew there would be few eddies and none of the lines would be the same. With all that said, I knew that I had to get a taste of this epic piece of kayaking history. A 6 hour drive from Hood River put us in a sleepy Idaho town high in the Rocky Mountains. These were my stomping grounds as a young boater, I practically learned to roll on the Main Payette 11 years ago.
Getting to the river was a very nerv-racking hour. I didn't eat much and felt like a kid going to get his first shot at the doctors office. Once we came upon the entry to Steepness I could see that there was gonna be some really huge shit downstream. We drove to Jake's Ladder and checked out a few of the major drops to see what kind of brown we were about to get ourselves into. Cheese had already been out there a few times at this flow, and has grown up a North Fork boater from a young age...you couldn't have a better guide. It was just the two of us...I wanted a bigger crew but this was a good way to run this river. We just looked out for the other and had nobody else to worry about. Back to the put-in and off we went! Check the Photos and Video! Thanks to Candace for running down the river and catching us at some of the bigger drops.
We had an absolutely amazing day of paddling. We ran every rapid, other than Jakes and Golf Course, which was just one mile long explosion at this flow. The biggest rapids were Nut, Bouncer, Pectoralis, and Jaws...but everything else was pretty much at the same level.
Tristan catching some huge air off the back side of the Juicer wave.
Here is a cool shot of our whole group running Screaming Left.
Mike McKee feeling his nerves at the top of Bouncer down the Middle.
Birthday boy getting a back ender!
At the bottom of one wave only about 15 feet up the next to go.
Myself gaining speed to hit the wave at Juicer.
Cheese subbing out in Houndstooth rapid.
B-Ward having a good line through the chaos of Bouncer down the Middle.
Brain Ward getting some feedback from the huge wave in Juicer rapid.
Payette local Binx chilling on the shore doing what he does best...look for food.
Ben Stooksberry getting a big hit at Juicer rapid on the Bottom 5.
The next day Cheese, Tris, and I went back down to the river and met up with Local Brain Ward, Micah Kneidl, Mike McKee, and Ben Stooksberry for another top to bottom. We had another great day of paddling and running huge huge huge sets of rapids. James Bird and Tristan McClaran ran the whole river, including Jake's, a few days before I was there...BIG TIME BOATING! That rapid is an stout huge piece of BROWN! Good work Demshitz!!! I'm really fired up to have gotten the opportunity to run this famous stretch at this flow. Back north to Hood I went to meet up with long time kayak amigo Pat Keller for some more PWN-qual boating.