Sunday, October 15, 2006


Electra Run, Mokelumne River, kayaking class II, Oct 14, 2006

It was lucky that we checked the flow before heading off to kayak the Gorge Run on SF American River, because "they" just didn't turn on the river. SFA ran at only 200 cfs all day. Not much was flowing anywhere else nearby except for the Mokelumne River, so we were very glad to have that as a backup destination for our day's dose of whitewater.

KimF, CarolynD, JoelH, RobK, BruceH and I kayaked the Electra Run on the Mokelumne River (Amador County, California, USA) at a flow of 850 cfs (CA DWR CDEC Interface). At this flow the whitewater is good, but the surfing is great! Kim paddled a Wave Sport Big EZG, Carolyn had her Dagger RPM, Joel paddled a Prijon Kaituna, Rob had his Perception Overflow, BruceH paddled a Dagger Crossfire, and I paddled my Wave Sport Frankenstein. Had I known that we would run the Mok' I would have brought the SuperEgo kayak, but as it turned out I was really glad to have the Wave Sport Frankenstein kayak.

Talking to some fishermen at put-in, we were informed that the Kokanee salmon run was underway. It turns out that the little brown, six inch fish we saw 2 weeks ago were the Kokanee. They are nothing like the blazing red ten inch Kokanee that I remember from years past. I wonder what's going on up there?

So it turned out to be a nice, casual play day as we surfed our way down the river. Kim demonstrated total mastery of the stern squirt, ripping off one perfect squirt after another.

Having Too Much Fun Surfing at Green Wave

Green Wave was just a little tricky to get onto, and a little tricky to stay on, but once you were there it was some really nice, high speed surfing. On our trip two weeks ago at about the same flow the SuperEgo kayak had a narrow 3 foot slot in which I could surf just between the hole and the wave. The Frankenstein had enough hull speed to go farther out towards the middle of the river and surf on the clean part of the wave. I had to lean far back and keep moving left and right to keep the bow up and avoid pearling out. So with the Frankenstein I had a 6 foot slot to play in, providing lots of room to move around. Fun, fun, fun !!!

We had lunch at Green Wave. As the weather gets cooler we say goodbye until spring to the warm weather boaters in the group, but we say hello to chocolate in my lunch bag, almond M&Ms, yum - yum !! A little more surfing after lunch and we were good to go.

Running and Playing the Big Whitewater Rapids

Everybody ran nice lines at The Slot rapid. I caught an eddy too high up for good photos, then had to reposition, but eventually got some shots. It was tough to find an eddy with a good camera angle, fumble around with the camera, and start taking pictures before everybody had already run the rapid. Oh well, train the photographer first, then later we can train the subjects. At S Curve rapid we all had fun ferrying out to the eddy in the middle of the rapid on river-left. Last trip I got trashed and swam there while paddling the SuperEgo, but in the Frankenstein I could ferry across the whitewater in both directions with the greatest of ease!

Unfortunately, I had maxed the memory card in the camera at S Curve rapid, so I didn't get any pictures at Toilet Bowl rapid. (Got to remember to preview and delete the duds at lunchtime!!) This one is just a bit tougher than any of the other whitewater rapids on the run. We all had good runs at Toilet Bowl, but I think there were some wide eyes and full-power paddling as the water splashed high up in our faces and the big diagonal waves crashed on us from both sides in quick succession.

Then there was another mile of nice, easy whitewater rapids before things got really mellow for the last 2 miles. Away from the roads, this section was really quiet and really pretty. We saw 2 bald eagles, a giant flock of merganzers and a deer. Both of the eagles flew a big loop as we approached, then they perched together in a tree and watched us go by. The big pool did smell kind of fishy. The Kokanee die after spawning upstream, so then many flush downstream, accumulate in this pool and provide a giant feast for the fish-eating birds. Kayaking down to the Middle Bar take-out is definitely worth a few extra miles of shuttle driving.

On the way back we stopped for a pre-dinner aperitif of lime sorbet (on a popsicle stick) and then had a nice dinner at Dos Coytoes Border Cafe in south Davis.

Flickr: More and larger photos from the trip. Most of the photos were taken by BruceT with an Olympus Stylus 720SW digital camera. Thanks to Carolyn for photographing the photographer at Green Wave.

Road map, gas, food & lodging: Jackson, CA - MapQuest.
Local weather: Jackson, CA -

More about: Kayaking Trip Reports.
Mokelumne River Recreation & Conservation Directory.

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Great Day out. The bald eagles were the highlight of this day for me but Toilet bowl at this flow was really fun. The low water (850 cfs) make it a nice little fun drop. A great way to test if you are a class II boater or ready for class III. Class II boater would get flushed.
Yes, Toilet Bowl is definitely at the upper limit of class II+ rapids.
Deer standing in the river watching us pass,
eagles guarding their piles of dead salmon,
Kokanee running up stream,
a few fall wildflowers, great waves,
and even a warmish takeout made for a magical day.
A kayak trip with wonderful friends I see too rarely, on a beautiful fall day, and few other people on the river is hard to beat. The water was relatively low but still plenty to be fun. I was lucky to have RobK and JoelH along to help me eat my lunch. RobK was as usual on a diet until about noon on the trip and Joel’s evil wife did not make him a lunch. The only serious problem on the trip was that I got ginger snaps as Rob’s take out cookies rather than chocolate chip cookies. BruceT saved the day for RobK with M & M’s. In the long term CarolynD had a great triumph suggesting that the Davis Co-op carries Newman’s own chocolate chip cookies.

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