Sunday, September 02, 2007


C to G Run, SF American River, kayaking class II+, 02sept2007

Cool whitewater and hot air make a great summer day in California

After traveling here and there all summer TaylorC made a rare home visit, so we were able to set up a kayaking trip. It was a great and necessary day to get out of town and go somewhere cooler and wetter!! We went up to Coloma, CA and kayaked the Coloma to Greenwood run on the SF American River (El Dorado County, California, USA). Here is my whitewater guide for the C to G run.

The flow was definitely lower than the 1600 cfs that the river had on many of my previous trips there this summer. One rafter that we asked thought that the river was flowing 1000 cfs, but when I got home and checked online I found that the river flow had been 1500 cfs. Its amazing how such a tiny change in flow rate can make such noticeable changes for kayakers who explore the river in such minute detail! On this holiday weekend I was surprised that the boater traffic was average, or maybe a little below average, but there were lots and lots of people at the parks and beaches along the river.

Dynamic stretching at put-in set me up for a good smooth start to my boating day. I'll discuss this more in a future post.

Surfing whitewater is such a great delight.

I had a good day of surfing in the Dagger SuperEgo playboat on loan from BobL. Gremlin wave-hole growled at me as usual. I got some good rides and suffered a few quick rejections, but didn't ever let Gremlin chew me up. All of the rivers I've been running this spring and summer have re-built my paddling-fitness and timing a bit, but I'm still far from my previous levels.

We did a pretty good job of eddy-hopping at Old Scary rapid. Then we caught the occasional surf wave on the way to Henningson Park. We were also practicing our straight arm paddling technique throughout the day.

We found a quiet spot downstream of Henningson Park to stop for a leisurely lunch in the shade. Wild blackberries made a nice dessert. I remembered to reapply sunscreen; hopefully I can get that new habit locked into my mind. Remember - absence of a sunburn at the end of the day does not ensure that your UV protection was sufficient!!

I didn't take too many pictures today. On a 2-boat trip we need to be watching out for each other constantly and its always my turn to surf next!

Here is TaylorC surfing at Gremlin wave-hole. A few more pictures are in my album at Picasa.

The little surf wave above Camp Lotus was smaller today, but was still great at this flow. What a perfect spot to learn and/or practice steering the boat with edge control. If you have got that skill figured out, then surfing here is easy, rhythmic and hypnotic. If not, then flailing around on this innocent, little wave-hole will be difficult, frustrating and humbling.

We noticed that the river flow had dropped a little, so we picked up the pace downriver a little bit. And I think we had both used up a lot of energy surfing, eddying and ferrying earlier in the day. So we did a lot less surfing and eddying in the latter part of the run. We didn't see too many other boaters toward the end of the day, so maybe we were one of the last groups off the river.

The parking lot at Greenwood was still full of cars and boats and boaters, so I was able to pass out lots of cards with the blog URL in hopes of getting more new readers.

On the way home we stopped in Cameron Park, CA for some ice cream and junk food. We got home a bit too soon. It was still blazing hot, but it cooled down eventually.

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

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Today was my first time paddling a Frankenstein. I use the word “paddling” very loosely as I spend most of the day upside down. The length of the boat is great for getting speed and getting into waves etc. but the shape is difficult to keep upright. I spent a good portion of the day rolling. Luckily, the boat is as easy to roll upright as it was to roll over and I am always game for roll practice. The length made some waves inaccessible because I was not able to stick in the waves without totally burying the bow. I guess that as you get more comfortable and control of the shape of the boat it performs well. All-in-all on a short run with a mellow flow the Frankenstein is a fun and skill-developing boat for a beginner.
Here is some more info in my equipment review on the Frankenstein kayak. It is a tippy up-side-down kayak for beginners, but a delightful fast boat for more advanced paddlers!!
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