Monday, July 21, 2008


Gorge Run, American River SF, California kayaking class III, 28june2008.

Whitewater excitement - it doesn't get any better than that !!

GabrielleM, JimH, MelodyS, WillD and I met BillJ at Salmon Falls about 12:30. We drove up to put-in at Greenwood River Access. Fortunately we got the last two parking spaces at Greenwood. The Gorge Run on SF American River (map & guide) was flowing at 1600 cfs (El Dorado County, California, USA). Recently I had been paddling my Frankenstein kayak on this run, but I decided to bring the SuperEgo kayak tugboat-playboat on this trip. I have been paddling this kayak on lots of class II runs this year, so I was ready to try it on a class III run.

MelodyS freestyle playboating on the wave above Fowler's Rapid.

Additional photos:
BRT's pictures - The Gorge Run, SF American River, California.
JimH's photos - whitewater river kayaking trip.

Class II whitewater warmup section.

Our mid-day meeting time got us on the river after the majority of the rafts, so we had a pretty uncrowded run through the class II section. There was one incident when an All-Outdoors raft crashed into Gabrielle & me. I got my arm up on the tube of the raft in time, but Gabrielle got knocked over and almost got pushed under the raft. That rude, careless, poorly-trained All-Outdoors raft guide is a real hazard on the river.

Other than that it was an easy, fun first part of the trip. There was lots of chatting & getting acquainted in a pretty experienced group of kayakers who hadn't all boated together before. There was lots of playboating, surfing, squirting, & ferrying on the easy class II whitewater. We surfed the big play-wave above Fowler's Rapid and stopped there for lunch. I was taking it real easy through this first section to make sure I had plenty of energy to run the big rapids later in the day. The clouds were really great, so it was a nice day for photography.

Lolipop Tree marks the entry to the big whitewater in The Gorge.

I knew that if I paddled aggressively and carefully I could get through the big class III rapids. The SuperEgo kayak is tugboat slow compared to the Frankenstein kayak that I am accustomed to paddling. So I had to pick my lines early, use my best stroke mechanics for powerful paddle strokes, and go for it aggressively to make sure that I stayed on my lines. Aggressive paddling was also important to make sure that this little, slicey, low volume boat didn't start making unexpected, undesirable, underwater submarine moves at the worst possible times!! And I knew that I would somehow survive running Satan's Cesspool Rapid, but I didn't know if I could get through there without getting totally hammered. I made a good entry at Satan's, ran the top of the curling wave, but unexpectedly did a little extra 360 unintendo spin. Cool, no problem, made it OK, didn't even need to do any emergency braces to stay upright. Big sigh of relief!!!!!

BRT kayaking Satan's Cesspool Rapid. Photo by JimH.

And then the rest of the day was really fun. I could enjoy the way the little playboat dances on the waves and responds rapidly to all of the currents in the river. I need to run the river with a slightly different strategy than I'd use when paddling a high-volume, speedy kayak, so it makes some interesting new challenges while kayaking on a familiar old whitewater river.

Lake Folsom was at a level of 401 feet, so we had current all the way to Salmon Falls take-out.

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

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