June 27, 2011

Upper Middle Consumnes

KR trying to piece together the next mission via dreamflows

Over the past couple of weeks we have often remarked on what its like to be the tourist in a paddling destination like California. Back home we know what runs are good, who's been on them of late and what river to head to next.

Paddling in Cali doesn't come that easy to us, especially this year with the record snow pack. The high water levels have kept us on our toes so to speak. All too often the plan had been made, gear and cars packed, only to check the river flows and find that our planned run had risen beyond what we were happy to paddle. As it turns out, not all the adventure happens on the river. More like at the Coloma bakery.

Part man, part ginger wolverine. The one and only Keith Riley

We like it stacked. KJ and Tyler talk California polictics

The one river run that proved to be consistent was the Upper Middle Consumnes. Low volume, steep and packed with granite. It's almost always a winning formula.

Keith Riley, Matt Coles and I managed four laps on this gem over a week long period. We were also joined by team latvia (Tommas Marnics), Rachel Curtis (NZ) and Jake Greenbuam (our token American).

PGA. Post Granite Awesome

Making it happen. Foxy's first day in Cali. Can you believe it.

Matty dropping skatepark

The UMC is an amazing run. It does, however, have a way of exacting a carnage tax from those who venture into its granite playground. Be it on the river or simply trying to get to or from it there seems to be some form of mini epic.

Swims, broken paddles, broken boats, broken people, lost teams, lost vehicles, lost tempers and a very typical very long california shuttle. All of this in only 7 trips.

Tyler firing the Arahura or UMC?

That good!

After a couple of laps on the UMC we decided to break a little further north and have a crack at the Rubicon River. I paddled this run back in 05' or 07' and only remembered good things about it. Our flow then was about 800cfs. This time we gave it a nudge at 2000+ cfs and the Rubicon nudged back. The Rubicon only flows on big water/ snow pack years and as a result the river bed is filled with large Alders (kind of like willow trees). As a result there are no eddies to speak of. You are pretty much locked into a corridor of trees with no option to get out if you want. I'm sure the run goes at this flow, especially for the bold, very good and courageous. However, we dealt with a tree across the main flow and didn't rate the chances of it not happening again. The result, two miles in we pulled the pin and decided to practice the art of hiking out with our tails firmly between our legs. Good call.

The Rubicon put-in..... and take out.

T-Fox following the path of least resistance

Got wood?

Back in Coloma we made the call to...... yep, head back into the UMC.

Our luck did extend to having fantastic flows for pretty much all out runs on the UMC. 450-560 cfs meant that there was enough fluff in between at the good stuff to not pin ball down the run. At these flows all the bigger drops were good to go. It even mean that we could paddle two rapids that I had previously portages in recent years. It definitely added an extra element of 'aesthetic' to link a bunch the bigger rapids together without many eddies and without having to get out of your boat. Jackpot! This also cut down on paddling time as well. Just over two hours boating had as at the take out in time to meet our lovely shuttle drivers. Complete with chips, beer and bikini's. Thank you to Rach, Melissa, Soph, Amy and Laura.

KJR in the honeymoon stage of the run.... just plain fun

Matty Coles furthering his Calfornia kayaking education.
School was in session

June 18, 2011

Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah.

After wrapping our Grand Canyon trip up in Flagstaff, Zak, Sally and I loaded the Suby to capacity and headed north for Moab. Neither Zak nor Sally had been to that part of the States so I was looking forward to showing off my very limited local knowledge.

Four states for lunch.

Our plan was pretty light. We had a place to stay in Moab, two national parks and one of the world’s most famous mountain bike trails. Simple.

The legend of the Suby grows

Perhaps the most surprising part of our trip Moab was the fact that we actually made it there. Being in Flag post canyon meant that we ended up with all surplus beer, food and general supplies. The kayak on the roof was filled with 40kgs of beer and soda. The back seat aka 'the nest' had just enough space to fit one of us and that was it. Anyone who has seen the Suby will know that it doesn't have any suspension to speak of. Even a moderate bump in the road would bottom out or trusty japanese stead. The resulting wheel rub would fill the car with the smell of burning rubber. Very west Auckland.

Moab, phallic?

We spent the majority of our time in Moab exploring the surrounding national parks. The landscapes of southern Utah are something I have never experienced anywhere else before. My only exposure was through watching wile e coyote and road runner cartoons as a grommet. I almost expected one of them to race by during one of our many short hikes (again, you don't walk or tramp in America).

We quickly realised that our time in Moab was going to be too short so we begun our rigorous sight seeing tour.

I can see my house from here...

Hiking, just like tramping but on the other side of the road/trail

Sally B enjoying B Arch

Arches National Park was first on the list. Surprisingly the park is filled with.... well, arches. Every size and shape, they've got it. For a first timer this place is amazing. Zak and Sally were pretty much jaw dropped the entire time. Having been there before it was cool to explore things a little more and play around with my fancy camera. Happy days.

Next stop was Slick Rock Trail, arguably the most famous mountain bike ride on the planet. So much so that we almost pulled the pin on it. All the folk in town we talked to were telling us how hard the ride was... luckly we chose to ignore the horror stories. Zak, Sally and I hired bikes from Posion Spider Cycles. $40 got you a $NZ4500 bike. Pretty good deal if you ask me. Sall decided that Slick Rock wasn't our cup of tea and we off to explore mellower terrain while Zak and I braved the heat. We had been told to 3-6 hours was normal so we were a little surprised to be back at the carpark in 2 hours, albeit very sweaty and pink.

After a night wining and dining with the locals we headed out to Canyonland's NP Island in the Sky. Again we weren't disappointed with what was on offer. The Island in the Sky is very different from what we had explored in Arches. Large open vista's greeted us at every turn. It was a nice mix to get some height and prospective on the canyon's after spending three weeks in the bottom of the Grand.

Zak Shaw, taking it all in takes along time...


All to quickly our time in Moab came to and end. It was back into the Suby and 1400km back to California and the next adventure. Life is good!