Sunday, March 30, 2008


Chili Bar Run, American River SF, kayaking class III, 29mar2008

A cool overcast day was great for whitewater kayaking in California.

JimH, BillJ & I met MelodyS, Will & Wally at the Hwy49 bridge in Lotus, California. Then we shuttled up to Chil Bar to meet with Jay. We had 1600 cfs of flow on the Chil Bar Run on SF American River (El Dorado County, California, USA). I can't believe that its been more than a year since I last kayaked this run!!

Will got some good surfs at Gremlin Wave/Hole.

Cloudy days are great for photography on the river.

Gentle, even lighting and a lack of glare on the water make cloudy days great for river photography. I'm slowly getting acquainted with my camera and seeing a higher success rate in my pictures as a result. On a kayaking trip there just isn't time to fiddle with the camera before taking a photo. All of my fiddle time is used up getting my boat into a sufficiently stable position to attempt a photo. The kayakers are already past me and in the eddy if I need to spend any time getting the camera ready to shoot. It has to be click, click and then immediately shoot to get a lot of the best action shots. And I'm also doing panoramic photography to capture more of the beauty of the river canyons; my wide shot at Troublemaker Rapid was a panorama of 2 overlapping photos. I took 171 photos on this daytrip and I'm pretty happy with the results. More photos from this kayaking trip.

Kayaking on whitewater rivers is exciting, challenging and big-time fun!!

I had a great time running Meatgrinder Rapid, catching more eddies there than I had on my last few trips there. We did a lot of surfing and had lunch at Maya Rapid. Then I got reacquainted with my favorite surf spot just below Maya. This medium-sized, very fast, wide wave is just for bow surfing, but it takes some paddling skill and edge control to get on it. Then my long kayak (Wave Sport Frankenstein) requires lots of edge control to avoid burying the bow and immediately flushing out. Jim & I ran down to First Threat Rapid and I got into a good spot to photograph everybody else going through, including some pretty dramatic shots of the rafts going through. We raced through Second Threat Rapid, took a short break and then paddled Third Threat Rapid and the class IIs down to Troublemaker Rapid. Two of us portaged Troublemaker, but I was glad to see that the rapid has recovered from the vandalism of a couple of years ago. Troublemaker is back to its old character as a very interesting class III+ rapid, with definite runnable lines. I used up the last of my energy sprinting across the big pools at Coloma and surfing at Gremlin Wave/Hole. All in all a very fun day with some combat rolls and one unexpected combat swim by various members of our group.

On the way home BillJ, JimH & I had a great dinner at Hacienda Hardwick barbecue grill & wine bar in Vacaville, California. Chefs Oliver, Terry and Betty know how to cook it up just right!!

More about:
Whitewater River Trips - California Kayaking Reports.

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Great photos Bruce!

It was a pleasure boating with everyone in the group, I hope to see you all on the river again soon. Will and I are going to join GCP when we get back from the grand canyon so we can boat with you all some more. Look out for our emails in May.
Thanks! Great action photos are partly just the luck of when the shutter release was clicked. But it also takes a good subject. Great kayakers who surf longer, more often and make more interesting moves tend to make better pictures.

Have fun on the canyon! Hopefully there will still be some snow melting here in California when you & Will return.
Great times. Thanks to everyone for pointers and encouragement - especially my kayak instructor. Someday I'll surf 1st threat ... right side up!
First Threat is a pretty snarly surf spot. We'll want to take both photos and videos when you are surfing there!
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