This little beauty is always a favourite amongst paddlers looking for paddling of a slightly different nature. Granite slides, teacups and plenty of gradient make for a committing and exciting day out.
South Silver sits high in the Sierras at around the 5000-foot mark. At this elevation the surrounding landscape differs a lot from the lower Sierra runs. Trees start to thin giving way to granite slabs and towering granite domes. It is usually run later in the season when the water levels are more 'manageable'. However, due to the low snow year the goodness has come in early.
We knew the levels were going to be high but we had word that things were all good up there.
After driving the maze of back roads we made it to the put in, dropped the boats at the top and drove the car to the bottom. This meant we could scout the river as we walked the mile (1.6km) back to the top.
South Silver starts with a rush and a roar on the 'autobahn' rapid. This rapid is a slide about 200m long and is effectively a giant granite hydro slide that sends you careering into the pool at the bottom at top speed. From here things simmer down (only slightly) with a series of fantastic drops a smaller slides (30 footers). This leads you on down to the infamous teacups. The river falls away spectacularly through a series of four teacups. Here we caught up with another team from Oregon as they checked the lines.
Paddling the teacups will leave you grinning from ear to ear and sees paddlers coming from far and wide to paddle these fantastic drops even if they don’t paddle many of the other rapids on the run.
We took our time thru this section stopping and shooting both stills and HD video of the boys having good times.
As impressive as the teacups are, they run into, or rather the river falls away in the very next rapid – Skyscraper and Off ramp.
Skyscraper definitely rates as an intimidating section of white water. In this section the river drops at an amazing 700ft per mile. For the non-kayakers out there this is incredibly steep. Once you commit there is no opting out until you scream into the eddy at the bottom of Off Ramp rapid – a 60ft long slide into cave to finish. Awesome.
After manhandling the boats around the mandatory portage its off ‘nose job’ down even more slides, avoid the nasty hole on the lead in to plastic surgery and you’re pretty much home.
We stopped to shoot some images at always spectacular plastic surgery with a good friend David running safety for the lead in. Piece of mind in knowing aye.
After running four super cool slides to finish we shoulder the boats for five minutes back to the car to avoid all the ‘manky’ paddling that leads down to the lake. Good times near Tahoe.