I always had the impression that the South Merced is the 'easy' class V overnighter of Cali.... boy was I wrong. Drew is a big fan of the late Lars Holbek, and heard that this was Lars's favorite run. So, Drew wanted to experience it as Lars did by taking his 13' Green boat, fully loaded with air mattress, camp chair, beer, and soup. I think he went a little overboard. Johnny Kentucky was our guide, and declared it to be medium high at 900cfs on the first day, which we routed down quickly, having Drew probe many large continuous rapids in his hole-killing torpedo. In action below.
Johnny fires it up.
There are some swirls in there.
Immersed in the chaos, we feel at home.
We camped at Super Slide and went to sleep hearing the massive slide become louder and louder. The next morning we awoke to drizzly rain and high water.
An ominous feeling filled the air as we ran the first few burly rapids.
Drew hit some clutch boofs with grace in the big old barge.
Kentucky nodded and said the rapid One In a Million wasn't far downstream. I came around the river bend, seeing Drew and Johnny eddied out on the right, but realized I couldn't make the eddy. I locked and loaded as it became apparent that I was about to run One in a Million blind. The line was clear, and I charged right giving her a big old boof, landing in a turbulent swirl that launched me into the right wall. I embraced the wall and unknowingly avoided the hole. It was a spiritual moment, where I was swept away by the river, resisting any desire to back out or scout, I turned and burned. I find that I run rapids best when I feel as though I'm going into battle fighting for my life. Here is Drew eddying out below One in a Million.
This was Cali tongue just below 1 in a Mil.
Drew ran some massive rapids.
He was fired up about it too.
Kentucky ended up fighting for his life in a massive swirl, and Drew threw a touchdown pass to real Johnny in to safety above more burl. Hand paddles are better than no paddle, and KY got it done with them. Here is a video Drew edited of the footage I captured on the trip.
Soon after that adventure into Yosemite, my good buddy Nick Muphy flew in from Chattanooga, and gained residency into the millennium falcon, aka the veggie wagon. Word from Darin arrived that the South Branch was running; so, we rallied on over to run some waterfalls with our fellow brethren. Heres Nick letting the turbo booster out on a fatty boof.
Darin decided to style 99 problems.
Jonas decided to run it switch.
Jakub Nemec was in the area, and routed off China Slide with ultra funky fresh style, like peanut butter on rye.
Jakub also made a video from the stellar day.
It was good to be on the water on a warm sunny day with good friends at a good flow.
photo by Laura Farrel
I rolled the dice and got lucky.
photo by Laura
Rodrigo from KayakPucon was there and fired it up.
Nick isn't afraid to Charge.
The perfect 50 gave me a little smack on the lip the 1st day, and so, I used some hand paddles to be safe on the next run, but still got my redemption with my paddle on the 3rd day.
photo by Darin Mcquoid
After 3 days of hiking up and out of the edge of the world, we headed up to the Silver Fork and found high water. Heres Nick charging into the first rapid on the SF.
All you can see is Nick's paddle in this giant swirl.
Dustin Marquart was in from Asheville, and stuck a nice boof off the tricky right slot.
As you can see in this pic, the river was very high, and we realized this was too much water for the 400fpm gorge downstream. Thus, we decided to make the easy and short hike out, being my first hike-out due to high water. Good decision.
Then we went back to the ever so classic South Merced for a one day descent and only got out to film the last rapid-- Fire Hydrant. Heres KY firing into it.
Nick was the only one who hadn't done the run before, and wasn't too uncomfortable routing the big burly rapids.
It was good to be back in there on a sunny day.
The weather has been crazy here in Cali the last few weeks as we have been dealing with colder temperatures and some precipitation. We hoped for the Yuba Gap last weekend, but the dam company only gave us flows too high and too low. Nonetheless, we were able to catch Golden Gate and Upper Middle Consumes thanks to the colder weather dropping the levels into a more sane range. Of course, we have been getting regular runs on the Green of California-- the South Yuba from Purdens to Bridgeport. Its the Green of CA b/c its easy to access, always running, no portages, chicks in bikinis, and great rapids. We hope to get Yuba Gap and Kimshew soon. I hope my videocamera starts working again. Until next time... Charge on!
6 months ago