Sunday, October 29, 2006


Gorge Run, SF American River, Oct 28, 2006.

Whitewater River Kayaking, Class III.

It was old friends day on the river. RaoulA and I drove two cars to the river today, but we unexpectedly met lots of people we knew with whom we could have shuttled. We kayaked the Gorge Run on SF American River at a flow of 1600 cfs (El Dorado County, California, USA). RaoulA paddled his Dagger RPM & I paddled my Wave Sports Frankenstein kayak.

Dawdling Through a Lazy Morning.

This was the first time I have run The Gorge since the opening of the river access point at Greenwood Creek. Putting in farther upriver in past years it seems that we always spent too much time and energy on the class II whitewater section above the Gorge, then had to run too fast through the Gorge. What a treat to put-in at Greenwood and have less class II to run before getting to the class III main event in the Gorge section! And since it takes about 4 hours for the release from Chili Bar reservoir to get down to Greenwood we were able to sleep in late, see the release begin online, then drive to the river and run it.

I was a sluggish surfer all morning, but managed to get it going enough to get on a few waves. Fall colors were starting to break out in the foliage along the river. And with the commercial trips over for the year we were into the quiet time of winter boating when we saw only a few other groups of kayakers on the river and the occasional hikers or fishermen on shore. We had lunch at the composting toilet above Fowler's rapid, another improvement that has been added since my last run on this section. Fortunately, I perked up after lunch and then had a pretty good afternoon of kayaking.

Into the Cesspool at Satan's - Whitewater Adventure.

Approaching the Gorge section we saw the Lolipop Tree on the hilltop. We ran Fowler's rapid and did a little surfing on the waves in Upper Haystack Canyon. After an easy summer of playboating on class II whitewater I got reintroduced to the speed and power of class III hydraulics and the chaos of class III eddy lines. We tried surfing at Lost Hat rapid, but the flow was a little too high so we didn't spend much time there. Lolipop tree.

We eddied out above Satan's Cesspool rapid. Raoul ran a nice line punching through pretty high up on river-right. I planned to go a little to the left of Raoul's line at Satan's, but as soon as I peeled out of the eddy the current pushed me quite a bit farther left. Suddenly I was going straight down into the hole, and then it got kind of dark for a little while. When I resurfaced I was upsidedown in the funny water, but I tried to roll anyway. It failed, but I kept my head down and did a little sculling half-way up for a while before finally popping the rest of the way up on my second try. Whew!
IK boater running Satan's Cesspool rapid
IK boater running my line at Satan's and staying upright!

Son of Satan's and Scissors rapids were fun. After not kayaking this run for a few years it was neat to remember most of the river, but not have things totally memorized. I actually had to read the whitewater and choose my lines in some places. I'm a little out of practice for running class III, but my class IV whitewater reading skills were just fine. Raoul went straight into the wave-hole at Bouncing Rock rapid, disappeared from view, then punched out the bottom of the hole still upright in his little RPM kayak. I used the speed of the Frankenstein kayak to slip by on the left. And thats pretty much how I did it all afternoon. At Hospital Bar rapid I caught the eddy on the left then ferried across rather than running a big whoop-dee-do line down the middle or the right side. The class II section after Surprise rapid was a nice finish to a great day of whitewater. And with the water level in Folsom Reservoir at 423 feet we had current all the way to take-out at Salmon Falls.

In Search of the Perfect Recipe.

I ran into some old friends, Rick & Cindy, at Greenwood Creek. Leaving from Greenwood Creek river access, I decided to drive up to Coloma and distribute a few more cards to publicize the whitewater blog. On the way home I stopped for dinner at the Mangolian BBQ in Cameron Park. Assembling my own mix of ingredients is fun and by going beyond their sauce recommendations I am finally getting it really hot and spicy the way I like it.

Photos were taken by BruceT with an Olympus Stylus 720SW waterproof digital camera.

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

More about: Trip Reports - Whitewater River Kayaking.

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