Saturday, April 4, 2009

kaweah Paddling by Quinn Connell

After a long drive, we found ourselves at a trailer park in Three Rivers, CA which was to be our home for the next week. There were some interesting characters in the park that we grew to know over out time there. There was Dave, the owner and manager who we owe a big thanks to. From letting us stay here to allowing us to invade his office at all times of day and night to use the internet, Dave made our time a lot easier. We met a guy called Big Joe, whose small terrier Bambino was so full of energy it seemed ironic. Once we settled down we were ready to get out on some California granite after a week of taking it easy.

Sam flying by the last drop of the upper hospital rock Photo By Ben Stanistreet

Susan killin it in the "green boat" photo By Sebastian Scholl

The first couple of days we ran a section of the Kaweah from the entrance of the Sequoia National Park down to our campsite. With low water this continuous boulder garden was the perfect warm up to get us back on the water and used to our creek boats which some people hadn’t sat in since before we left for China.

We took a trip up into the National Park in search of better whitewater, and were helped out by a friendly ranger “April,” who got us set up with all of the permits we would need for the next week. We ended up running the section above the Hospital Rock run, putting in below Chuck’s drop. This is a stout slide that head coach Jesse Shimrock and WCKA’s friends Justin Patt and Shon Bollock ran later in our stay. The section below starts off with Diggin’ to China, a granite slide into a four foot boof in the middle, or a pillow ride to plug on the far right. There’s also a slot down the far right that saw some carnage. We ran several laps on this rapid and then made our way downstream. After a ton of small, clean boofs the run ends in a series of slides with a giant sieve on the far right that we ended up losing a paddle to.

Stani setting up for the final slide by Photo Sebastian Scholl

Kristi taken it to china By Photo Sebastian Scholl

Our take out also served as the put in to the Hospital Rock section. This starts off with a big angled slide that you can either run against the wall, or ride up high on the right side and fall down into the pillow. The entire run is continuous whitewater with a few bigger drops thrown in. The river narrows down to a few feet wide then falls off a 12-foot boof, Little Niagara. A lot of smooth slides later, 420 gorge begins with a series of slot-drops known as 420 rapid. A couple of fun drops later, past a dam and “Wonder Boof,” which is exactly as it sounds, we hit Zero to Sixty, the biggest rapid on the run. The line starts by boofing your way through the entrance, sliding over some granite on the right that slows you down, then hitting the pillow on the left that instantly shoots you over a 15 foot ledge. This section is a classic, incredibly fun and perfectly represents the clean granite drops characteristic of California paddling.

We took a day trip to the Tule, and after a couple hours of driving stopped for a quick lunch before putting on a rarely run section of the south fork. More slides and boofs- we’re all beginning to love this style of whitewater. The most memorable rapid on the section is a double drop. It starts with an eight foot sliding drop, and after a short pool falls off a 25- foot nearly vertical wall that everyone fired up. The rest of the run had several portages and ended in a fun slide.

Dave Getting high on wonder boof Photo By Sebastian Scholl

We returned to the Kaweah on the last day of our permit for a race. We were in teams of three and the race involved running from the put-in to Hospital rock to the put-in to the upper section, tagging a team mate waiting in their boat, and racing down the upper stretch. It continued relay-style until everyone on the team had both run and paddled. Sebastian, Erik and Dave took first and won free t-shirts from the trailer park we were staying in. As we left, a ranger reminded us that we had no days left on our permit, so we decided to take off the next day to Justin Patt’s and the Yuba.

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