Sunday, May 16, 2010


Shirttail Run, NF American River, whitewater kayaking class II+, trip report 15may2010.

California whitewater paddleboating on a glorious spring day!

PaulE, KimF, JimH, BruceH & I met at Hwy 80 Weimar Cross-Road exit 131 park & ride to kayak the NF American River Shirttail Run (guide & map) (Placer County, California, USA). The Ponderosa Road to take-out was in the worst condition than I've ever seen there, so high clearance vehicles are very helpful. Considering the bad condition of our government budgets these days who knows when they will give this road the regrading that it needs. The unusually high amount of late spring rain that we've had this year has sustained a little flow in Bunch Canyon Creek along Yankee Jim's Road to put-in. This has also enabled an explosion of wildflowers better than I have ever seen there in the past.

Click on the photo to see a larger version; use the back button to return.

NF American River Shirttail Run whitewater kayaking
• photo 20 - PauE

NF American River Shirttail Run whitewater kayaking
• photo 30 - KimF

With four Shirttail Run veterans and one newbie we had a nice mellow day on the river. Remembering to stretch my hamstring and lower back muscles at put-in really helped me to start the day with a good range of motion and comfort while paddling. I took it very easy and boated very carefully knowing that I was out-of-shape and out-of-practice from not boating the past few months. Nevertheless I did blunder into one medium-sized hole early in the run, but fortunately I punched it perpendicular and was able to get right through it and remained upright. I really enjoyed the way our group kept pretty close together throughout the day, but that made it hard to get good photos of other boaters. By the time I was semi-stabilized in an eddy the rest of the group was already zooming in to join me, so there often wasn't enough time to get the camera turned on to get all the shots that I wanted.

NF American River Shirttail Run whitewater kayaking
• photo 43 - BruceH

NF American River Shirttail Run whitewater kayaking
• photo 44 - JimH

• See more photos: NF American River Shirttail Run photo gallery.
• Camera: Olympus 720SW water-resistant.)

JimH photos from Shirttail Run NF American River kayaking.
• Camera: Olympus Stylus 850SW camera.
JimH trip report from NF American River Shirttail Run whitewater kayaking.

The crux of the run is Rapid 3 1/2 where some of us ran right of the island and some of us ran left. Fortunately we all stayed out of the holes, especially the big boat-eating hole at the bottom of the rapid on river-right. There was a rumor that Jim got a great long ride on the big wave at Surf City, but with few witnesses and no photos what can you say?

We had lunch on a nice beach just a little downstream from Surf City and Big Bend. A few commercial rafts went by, but mostly we had the river to ourselves all day. The other crux of the run is the giant boat-eating hole that is hiding in a bend of the river toward the end of the run. There was a nice wide channel on river-left to avoid the hole and we all got past it without any problems. We took out at ~2 PM, so I estimate that the 1700 cfs flow we boated on all day passed the gauge far downstream at ~4 PM.

On the way home we stopped to eat at The Burrito Shop in Auburn California (Hwy 80 exit 121 at Foresthill Auburn Ravine Road). Their Southwest Chicken Burrito was great after I added a little salsa to heat up the spicing a little.

My homemade sports drink recipe flavor of the day was made by precisely diluting juice from Langers Cranberry Pomegranate Blueberry Plus. I brought a whole gallon of the sports drink, finished the first quart while driving to the river, finished the second quart at lunch, the third quart at take-out and finished the last of the gallon on the drive home. This kept me pretty well hydrated for a short mellow run on a mild spring day. I peed at put-in, lunchtime, at the restaurant and immediately when I got home. I'm sure that most paddleboaters are significantly dehydrated most of the time on the river because I don't see other boaters drinking very often or peeing very often during boating trips. Muscle performance drops when the body is dehydrated, so how much of your paddling performance are you willing to sacrifice? Dehydration also adds to the muscle soreness and tired feelings we have at the end of a day of boating, so if drinking more helps me to perform better at my favorite sport and feel better afterwards that sounds pretty good to me!!

More about:
Shirttail Run, NF American River, kayaking class II+, trip report 06april2008.
California Whitewater Kayaking Trip Reports - BRT Insights.
California Whitewater Rivers and Creeks - Comprehensive Guide for Paddleboating Class II to IV.

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