Monday, July 23, 2007


Rumsey Run, Cache Creek, kayaking class II+, July 22, 2007

Kayakers explore the river in minute detail !!

PaulG & I left Davis, CA at 8 AM and met JimH in Winters, CA at 8:30 to get an early start on our trip. After a quick gas & grocery stop we were off. We went to the Rumsey Run on Cache Creek (Yolo County, California, USA). See my Rumsey Run whitewater guide. The creek was flowing at 750 cfs based on the estimate at Dreamflows. This turned out to be a really great flow with lots of surfing spots.

Despite our early departure from home a big group of commercial boaters was launching just as we got to put-in, but they were gone by the time we finished getting dressed and doing a little surfing upstream of put-in. The river got a little crowded in the early part of the day due to other commercial groups coming from various launch sites, but after our lunch stop we had the river pretty much to ourselves. I think on Sunday the commercials launch early and get off the river early to make sure people have enough time to drive home. By the time we got to take-out we were some of the last boats on the river for the day and it was only around 3:30, so clearly a late departure for a Sunday boat trip would be a great way to avoid the crowds on this creek.

We had a nice leisurely lunch high up on a terrace overlooking the river just upstream of the county campground. After blogging about sunscreen recently I'm now putting sunscreen into my lunch bag and I remembered to reapply sunscreen after lunch.

The whitewater surfing was better today than it was earlier in the summer when the creek was flowing at 900 cfs. PaulG was in his new/old CorsicaS, while I was paddling BobL's SuperEgo and Jim was paddling his EasyG ??.

After all these trips the SuperEgo is still teaching me how it wants to catch eddies, but I'm slowly catching on. Lots of little things have to be recalibrated after paddling longer faster boats for all those years. Here are some pictures of PaulG and JimH surfing at various spots and some videos of them surfing the whitewater. Jim's kayaking photos. Jim's whitewater videos.

Jim had a little paddle trouble, but used his river knife to make a temporary repair. That was good enough for class II to get us down the run, but when we got to the only class III rapid on the run I hiked back and swapped paddles, so here is the video of JimH kayaking Mother rapid using my paddle.

Note: If you want to view more of my videos just make a favorite or bookmark, or open a new tab in your web browser to BRT Kayaking Channel or JimH Whitewater Channel. Youtube will try to take you to other people's kayaking videos after viewing one of ours.

On the way home we stopped at The Corner Store in Guinda, CA and got popsicles and various rehydration fluids.

More about: Trip Reports - Kayaking Whitewater on California Rivers.
California Whitewater River Guides.

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We found lots of good waves for front surfing as well as eddy lines to play on. I found a good front ender spot, but after one great ender I was too far down stream to get back up to the spot without getting out of my boat.

Somewhere below the low water bridge, but well above the highway 16 bridge at Mother rapid, I got a great stern squirt, and stayed vertical for several seconds. My bow came down to the left. I did a high brace on my left to cause my boat to land right side up. My AT paddle shaft broke right at the location of my little finger on my left hand, and I went over on my left side. I tried to roll, but without a left paddle blade, I was unable to roll on that side. I should have tried to roll on my right, but wasn’t sure if the paddle would work on that side either, so I wet exited my boat. It was then that I could see where the paddle was broken. Much of the glass fibers were still intact, but the resin was crumbled so the blade flexed very readily at the break. Bruce towed me to shore, and we discussed our options.

I cut a willow shoot about 2 cm in diameter and 70 cm long. I flattened one side and used the duct tape I carry wrapped around the middle of my paddle shaft to tape the willow stick to the paddle shaft, leaving about 20 cm of the willow stick running along the back of the blade. I had 2 pieces of duct tape each about 50 cm long, but the adhesive on the outer two wraps, about 15 cm, had deteriorated in the several years that had passed since I put the tape on the paddle. I barely had enough tape to do the job, and would have been more comfortable with a lot more tape. The next time I put tape on my paddle I will use about 2 meters of tape.

Our first plan was for me to paddle downstream until the road came down closer to the river where I would take out and wait for Bruce and Paul to return with my car to pick me up. With the makeshift repair, the paddle functioned fairly well as long as I was careful to not put much pressure on the left blade. In rapids, I used the right blade to adjust my boat angle, and otherwise just floated through the easiest part of the rapid. When we came to the top of Mother, where I had planned to take out, Bruce suggested that he run the rapid and hike back up to exchange paddles with me. I could then run the rapid with a good paddle, and trade back with him at the bottom of the rapid. I enthusiastically accepted his offer.

I took out, and began hiking downstream on river left. Soon after I walked under the highway 16 bridge I saw Bruce already hiking up the left bank with his paddle. We made the exchange; I hiked back to my boat and ran the rapid. I saw Bruce’s boat on the bank and waited for him there. I was able to paddle from there to take-out at Camp Haswell with the broken paddle.

I love the AT crankshaft paddle, but I have seen several of them break. This is the second one I have broken. In 20 years of paddling, I have never broken another paddle. I wore several centimeters off the blades of several and even chipped some good sized pieces off the edge of the blade, but have never broken a shaft. Although I love the paddle, I will not buy another one. Actually I bought only one, this one was Bob Langley’s. He loaned it to me after I broke my first one about 4 years ago. Thanks Bob. I got 3 good years of use out of your paddle.
Of course its always bad to break a paddle, but it was nice the way we were able to deal with it. After carrying a river knife all these years it was nice to see one used for something other than cutting cheese at lunch.

Having a little duct tape rolled on the middle of my paddle shaft is another thing that I've always done, but never used. My tape is so old and degraded that it probably would have been useless in yesterdays repair situation. Time for me to put some fresh tape on my paddle and maybe get a very small roll of duct tape that I can carry in a dry bag for emergency repairs.

I've also gotten out of the habit of carrying a breakdown paddle because of limited storage capacity in this tiny SuperEgo playboat I'm paddling so often now. I do have one of the new three-piece breakdown paddles. I'll have to look into whether or not it will fit into the playboat.
super good day. found some great surf waves and continued to work on fundamentals: proper boat angle, proper braces, edging, and fundamentally having the boat go where i tell it. my concentration was wainig at the end of the day when we found a sweet, easy surf spot that i would have named either "easy street" or "cherry on top". super well balanced wave that was easy to get into. worked on ferrying through bigger water and was stoked to see jim eddy out mid-rapid, class ii-iii. skilled move to which he quipped, "that felt good." the river continued to give back with a dry bag for jim and a bottle of sunscreen and a candy bar for me. my respect for the river was reaffirmed when i saw two goons get hung up on a rock and almost saw a tragedy when one of them was getting tangled under his boat. reminded me to pay attention and to keep my head up. getting ready to try a flat bottomed boat as i begin to realize some of the limitations of the high volume tanks i have paddled.

also tested the inverse proportionality theory with boater heighth to boat length. will see if the theory holds this next weekend.

paul g
Yes, little flat-bottom playboats are great in summer, but I still want my big boat for winter boating on big water.
This might be a good place to mention that I found some Scotch heavy duty all-weather automotive duct tape at my local auto parts store. The statement on the label claims that it lasts 3 times longer outdoors than Scotch or other major brands of heavy duty duct tape, and to be UV and sunlight resistant. It feels a bit like the excellent duct tape that Masa-aki brought me from Japan many years ago. That Japanese tape was the best I had seen until now. Actually it was the adhesive that was better rather than the fiber. I have now put this automotive duct tape on my new paddle and hope that I won't need it again.
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