Sunday, April 6, 2014

South Branch Feather (How much can you Handle)

Text message "You want to go on an adventure? - Darin McQuoid" 

Around six in the morning Darin and i decided to head out and see if we could get on the South Branch of the Feather, one of the most classic waterfall runs in California. On the way to the put in we found ourselves driving through 8" of fresh snow and up and over fallen trees. Not knowing if this run is going to be in or not we kept driving.

Darin holding up a tree to continue our trek to the put-in

Finally making it to the put-in, we both looked over the bridge and saw water flowing beneath us! We had little optimism that the run would be flowing at all, when we saw that it was on the low side but in we were more than excited and jumped out of the car and got dressed. 

Getting ready to head down towards the water.

The first couple miles of the run consisted of nothing but beautiful scenery with nice class 2-3 white water. Everywhere you look is coved by a thick blanket of beautiful snow.

Not much can compare to the pure beauty of kayaking through a winter wonderland just waiting to run so of the best whitewater their is. 

After a ways of strait forward, smaller scale rapids we reach the first significant drop, its about a 8 foot waterfall with a strait forward leaden. Driving down the center of the drop both Darin and I had great lines. 

We make our way down more of the run, we come to a horizon line and Darin looks at me and says, "This is where it gets good." Two options at the top of the rapid, a left line sneak and a big boof on the right than fallows down into some holes and a horizen line at the bottom, run the first drop and than make sure you go right down the rest. Darin goes first running the right boof, I fallow second running the sneak line and charging off the right of the bottom drop into the pool below. 

After this drop the creeks starts to steepen drastically, the next memorable drop is a perfect 20 footer, enter on the left and work your way next to the house shaped rock in the center of the river. You can boof this drop but I wouldn't recommend it, I landed almost perfect off the drop and had a big hit.

My excited face before running the first major waterfalls of the run.

The Lip of the 20

This drop goes immediately into another perfect waterfall, enter far left come down a nice slide that goes directly off the lip of a 15 footer. Boof it! It is an amazing waterfall to go as hard as you can off of. 

Slide to boot

Taking a second after this drop is amazing, looking back up at the two perfect waterfalls you just ran, the light layer of snow that has by lightly placed on the mountains and trees that surround you, Nothing can quite describe the beauty.

Next is a series of ledge drops that go seemingly flawlessly. One good drop after another that leads into one of the best drops on the run, Double Drop. Scout on the left side. 

Darin on the top drop of double drop.

Coming off the lip of drop number 2

The second drop has one of the best water boofs I have ever run. Coming into it with right to left momentum is prime and you can boof as hard your heart desires.

Next comes a bunch of "This ones good" slides. Clean as can be. But be careful one of them has some new found wood in it. Not to hard of a portage on the right side. 

The next drop you dry out on the left side falling into a green water crack and float out on the left side. Than run a really clean drop into slide down the left side. After these drops you are sitting above High Pressure 20. A left line allows you to plug it or you can take the middle line and hit the biggest boof of the run. Be careful though this drop goes right into 99 problems.

Coming off the lip of Pressure 20

After taking a quick look at 99 problems we decided to walk, lowering boats down on left and an easy walk around on the same side. The next drop sends you really deep, with no way to boof you plug the it. I popped both ear drums and took a bit of water up my nose. Make sure you get an eddy after this drop, it leads right into 199 problems witch is portaged on the right. 

Seal launching into the base of 199 problems.

After this you have an easy slide and your at the top of Perfect 50! Scouting from the right I got to watch Darin run it. Good line, nice paddle toss, and he's in the eddy on the left. I go get in my boat, sit in the eddy for a second and peal off onto the lip of the waterfall. I head off the lip, throw my paddle, and tuck up, I feel the hit and wait to surface, It became apparent that i hadn't ended up in an eddy so I hand rolled as quick as possible and hand paddled into an eddy avoiding a log jam. 

Not much can describe the feeling I felt down in that bottom eddy, looking back at this amazing waterfall I felt perfect, amazing, worded description can not relate to the true feelings.

Darin sending it

 Chucking the paddle off the top

The end of the run is a beautiful seen of the last half of 7 sisters.

The hike out of the run isn't by any means easy, its about a mile hike strait up a mountain. It took us around 30-40 minutes to reach the road. Finally getting there I threw my boat on the ground sat down and rested. Looking around I realized we had started in snow kayaked out of it and hiked back into it. I sat resting when Darin looked at me and said, "you ready to go?" I hopped up, and we began to walk. We walked 4 miles back to the put in, in 8" of snow, it took us about two hours of pressing on, moving fallen trees. By the time we made it to the car it was getting dark, and I was extremely cold. We changed and got into the car to go pick our boats up where I realized i was hypothermic and exhausted. After getting the boats, thank you Darin for getting mine, we stated back, where I asked Darin to pull over and proceeded to puke, and than puke some more. It took about two hours of the heater at full blast and a flaming hot coffee to finally warm up. But at the end of the day all was good, we both had a great time on the water and working hard is sometimes the price you pay for kayaking. Check out Darin's website for other great rivers and river reviews .
Just remember when Darin asks you if you want to go on an adventure,

You better be ready for a true adventure in every since of the word!
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