May 10, 2009

Golden Gate

The past few days have been a blur here in California. Landing and being whisked off to Joe Bousquin's place complete with bbq and chilled beers, talk about an ideal start to the trip... It was a definite improvement from me losing my ipod and new headphones at LAX.

From Joe's place in Sacramento, Zak and I headed in land an hour to Coloma and the beginning of our paddling trip proper. We warmed up with a run down the Kyburz and Peavine sections on the South Fork of the American. To round out our first full day in the country we were dragged reluctantly off the infamous Coloma Club. Drinking and hilarity ensued.

Jamie Garrod stomping rapid #143

Day two began at the crack of 11am and we gradually made our way to the put in of the golden gate section... Let the adventure begin. The flow peaked around 1600cfs meaning the run had its fill of sizable holes and sizable moves. The kiwi team swelled to 7 with the Chch boys coming to play. Four hours of sweet paddling had us at the take out with a few tall tales to tell.

Zak Shaw threading the needle

Irish Barry (not Irish Graeme, he was to hungover to make it to the put-in), had the misfortune of swimming one of the biggest rapids of the day. A few nervous seconds saw him wash battered and bruised into the eddy at the bottom, minus paddle and boat. Lacking the necessary transport, Barry was forced to hit the feet for a two hour climb out to the main road.

My day was not without incident as well. Keen to avenge(?) my thrashing in the bottom of Golden Gates F1-11 two years ago....

The plan. Clean the run.. have a good day. Debt settled.

Bernard Oliver can do it with no hands!

This plan, however, fell apart.

Chasing Barry's boat down stream, I ran a pour over drop, clipped a rock on landing and proceeded to flip and become pinned upside down in the bottom of the drop, wedged between a rock and a hole place. Not a good place to be. Running low on O2, an executive decision was made, pull pin on spray skirt, stay in boat, flush from the hole and leave ego slightly intact.. This was not to be. Only the flushing part of the plan worked.

Golden Gate 1, Ben 0

After paddling 200m of class 4+ with a fully submerged kayak I was separated from my new boat and new paddle.. Bad! But, not before catching my paddle on a rock and then on my head, resulting in a split eyebrow. Mmm. Golden Gate ego not avenged.

DIY first aid. If you can't duck it!
However, all was not lost.

Besides a few minutes of drama the trip was a raging success. Pulling into the take out eddy, we were meet by Graeme (not hung over now) and a box of Heineken beer. Ahh, success finally!

It was great to be out on the river with the ex CPIT crew and seeing them paddle well.