The Clavey has long been on my list of rivers to run in California. Until now things haven’t quite worked out timing wise.
Zak and I had been keeping a close eye on the Dream Flows website. We made the call to head south and put out the call to the numerous kiwi’s lingering down the road at the local campsite. Initial enthusiasm had the team swell to seven. By morning our team had shrunk to 2.5 paddlers. Hmmm.
After wasting the morning away we managed to commit Shannon (fellow NZKS employee) the remaining .5. We also managed to figure a relatively complex shuttle that involved a team driving to Yosemite first… Sounds positive already.
Now that we had locked in a full team of three, the suby (actual nickname… really original) was packed to the roof and we made our way south down highway 49.
49 runs north south along the base of the sierra’s and is the all important link to many of California’s best paddling.
We decided to make camp near the put-in so we could get an early start. With a little time up our sleeve’s we stopped in Tuolumne City (they use the term ‘city’ very loosely) for a beer. After driving around the town that time forgot we found the ‘Loggers’. It was next to the only other open business in town. Sierra Ink, a tattoo outfit. Go figure aye.
Anyone who has meet Shannon knows that he looks about 15. So, with out ID he was promptly kicked out of the pub and was made to sit in the Suby while Zak and I enjoyed a beer. After much piss taking the publican let him back in and even let him drink a beer.
Our day begun at the crack of 9.30 as we pushed out of the first eddy and straight into our first portage. Once we were back on the water things got going with both a rush and a roar. Pushy class four and laden kayaks put the team in the groove for the day.
Things were going pretty smoothly until Shannon jammed his paddle in between two rocks and proceeded to break the entire blade off. Go the class three mank (mank is usually a shitty and shallow rapid).
We make so much $$ teaching kayaking that we just cut werner paddle's up for fun.
You can see how much fun it is...
You can see how much fun it is...
After sorting this we made short work of the remaining Upper Clavey section. Unknown to us, we lunched at the half way bridge. This was fine, however, it was one of the last decent places to camp. From here we dropped into the lower 8 miles.
The consistency in gradient is amazing in the Clavey. Very quickly you loose count of the pool drop combinations you run on your journey towards the Tuolumne. Slowing, mile after mile, we made our way down stream looking for a sweet beach to set up camp. As the afternoon slipped by we realised that there weren’t really ANY camping options. Finally about 6pm we finally found a beach we could camp on. It even had sun (for the first 10 minutes).
After a restful nights sleep we pushed off from camp at 8.30 to tackle the remaining two miles that would lead us to the confluence. In the back of my mind I knew we had to keep things moving because we had organised to be picked up at midday.
During the last two miles the Clavey kept doing what it does best. It kept on giving. Drop after drop the Clavey kept going. The paddling was pitched at a fantastic level. Most of the 100+ rapids were at the limit of safe boat scouting. Zak was feeling good out on the water and was happy to probe what we couldn’t see.
At the confluence with the lower T high fives were issued and we turned to head for our midday shuttle pick up. Hilarity ensued as we fell through Clavey falls. Going from 25 cumecs to 240 was quite the transition.
Our Clavey trip proved to be the trip that kept on giving. After paddling the remaining 18km in an hour 20 we were worried we kept our fantastic shuttle drivers waiting at the bridge. 12.30 had us at the take out. No shuttle. One o’clock came and went. No shuttle. One thirty, no shuttle. By 2.30 Zak had drawn the short straw and was dispatched we a passing vehicle to try and get the Suby.
Finally, at 3.30 our shuttle had arrived. Shannon and I were starting to feel a little worse for wear after 3 hours in the 38oC heat. High fives were re-issued and we were done.
Turns out Anna had gone walk about in Yosemite, got on a one way bus to now where and got lost. Mmm