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June 17, 2009

South Silver

The South Silver Fork of the American River is the closest thing to natures Disneyland. Slides, drops, teacups and a ton of granite make for one big playground.

Auto Barn... Sweet As!

I first paddled the run back in 2003 and ever since it has been high on my list of things to do when ever I'm back in this part of the world.

Settled high in the Sierra's, the drive alone is worth the trip. You are treated to amazing views of the surrounding hills with their towering granite domes, a landscape foreign to many kiwi travelers.

Berno slotting into holiday mode

Its this granite that leads us along the winding roads in search of the put. After some creative 4wdriving in our 2wd Suby (with no clearance) we managed to glide gracefully into the clearing that is the carpark.

On this particular trip we managed to rally a huge team of kiwi kayakers. The ex. CPIT boys were camped at the put and have been for a few days. They had taken almost all the seats out of their family wagon and made an outdoor lounge around their outdoor fire.

NZ winter or California granite.... you can decide

Along with AD, Rachel Moore and Zak, we numbered 9 kiwi's at the put in.

Straight off the bat you are into AutoBarn, a super fast slide that kind of feels like a big granite gutter. After lapping this a few times we headed on down stream to the next sweet features in our outdoor playpark.

Slides more slides...

The team worked through the aptly named boof boof slide with varying degree's of success.

The lovely Rachel Moore boof boof sliding

Our next stop was the first of four fantastic teacup drops. It is these teacups that kiwi paddlers have been dreaming of for years. The team split up and ran and re-ran all the different combo's they could through the teacups and down into the signature drop on the run... Sky Scraper.

Zak Shaw dwarfed by Sky Scrapper

Many lines were run, smiles we had as we all threw ourselves down this granite wonderland.

After lapping out SS and the infamous Off Ramp we headed on down stream for more slides, boofs and great fun... It really is the most fun you can have in a kayak.

Team CPIT checking some of the goods.

Me lining up for Off Ramp


We all had a sweet day out in the Californian sun paddling with good friends. For me it was an added bonus to paddle with the boys from CPIT. Having paddled with them in NZ and having the privilege of teaching with them, it was great to be in one of the world's best kayak destinations throwing down.

eNZed represent.



Music is by Kiwi charger, LADYHAWKE - My Delerium

June 3, 2009

Clavey River

The Clavey River is the gift that just keeps on giving.

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.

Clavey Car Camping

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.

Zak lining up the entry to rapid #73

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.

Shannon thinks he's off to play cricket.. whats with that?

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.

Shandawg testing out his split paddle

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.

Blue Steel. No school for that..
Image: Zak Shaw

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...

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 pinstripe's make for bigger boof's. Honest
Image by Zak Shaw

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).

Zak doing his best to blend in

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.

Ha! Fools are paddling straight past the last camp site. At 2pm...

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.

Shannon perfecting his rocket move. Rapid # 243

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.

The boys getting ready to run the toilet bowl



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.

Zak Shaw "Where's the shuttle?"

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