Category Archives: Kayaking

South Fork of the American

This is some footage from this past summer that I had sitting around, and being the type of person that does not like to waste anything, I decided to slap together a quick video. The main point to it is – the video is of a friend of mine, Brad Brewer, who I met in college at Clemson University, and subsequently taught me how to creek boat years ago.

Around 1995, there were not nearly as many whitewater kayakers as there are now, and there were even fewer people running steep creeks and big waterfalls. Brad was one of the few. He also knows a thing or two about playboating…

Schmap, Flickr, Widget

Schmap recently contacted me through Flickr asking if I would be willing to contribute one of my photos – a picture I took a while back of three kayakers coming into Incline right before sunset. I agreed. Today, they emailed again to inform me that it was live, and when I went to look at it, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have also taken advantage of widgets. Very cool!

Widgets are ubiquitous now, and serve as a great vehicle for viral marketing. Another way of looking at widgets – advertisements that are actually useful tools for the consumer.

To find the photo they picked from my Flickr account, just locate Incline Village, NV, click “Photos” on the widget, and scroll through.

Cherry Creek Class V Downriver Race

5 swims and fun had by all. At least no one vomited from exhaustion like the guy who just beat me by a few seconds the last time I raced. While I didn’t get a chance to shoot video this time around, you can check out some Cherry Creek action from this video I put together a few weeks ago.

Thanks to Keith for all the logistics, effort, and money he applied to make it a great party, complete with live music by Kipchoge right on the banks of the Tuolumne River. Here is a little taste of the tunes that I shot from my beach chair as I relaxed under the stars. Not very professional, but basically I just wasn’t into filming and simply wanted to listen. Either way, it gives you a taste. Notice you hear the river directly behind them. We are an hour away from pavement down a steep and treacherous road.

Here are a few mug shots of some of the racers and general attendees.

First Threat, South Fork of the American

Cherry so Very

For the week of July 4th I found myself at the bottom of a river canyon with no cell phone reception, no Internet connection, and nothing to do but kayak and kick it with a dozen friends who were all there to do two things – paddle Cherry Creek and forget what we do on a daily basis.

Cherry Creek is such a perfect combination of hydrology, geology, and geography that if I were to stand up and give a presentation on what constitutes the ideal class V river it would be this place. If you are a confident class V boater then it presents few worries and plenty of excitement. Basically, everything goes but in a big way. To quote Lars Holbek and Chuck Stanley,

“This is where they come to strut their stuff or to get stuffed while strutting.”

The only stress I experienced over the course of the entire week was the unfortunate run-in with a rattlesnake. Several of us were in the midst of an extremely competitive bocce game when we first became aware of its presence. It crossed a dirt road that we were on and hunkered down in a hole presumably built by a mammalian species. I threw a warning rock across its bow and hoped that it was the last I would see of it; but alas, it was not.

Later on that evening it presented itself again. If it were not for the fact that we had a campground full of paddlers sleeping on the ground and dogs oblivious to the powers of poison, I would have left it alone. I don’t like killing things unnecessarily, but in this case it was a problem.

Kayak paddles can serve multiple functions, some of which do not involve actual paddling. A swift blow to the back of the head, a few saw-like motions, and it was not long before I had extinguished the life of this poor yet deadly reptile. I thought for sure I would pay for this action on the river the next day, but as luck would have it I was spared. Regardless, I am sorry rattlesnake. It is not your fault that you were engineered with an extremely effective defense mechanism. It just so happens that humans have a pretty good one too.

Now for the video. There are a few rapids not featured, but if you are new to Cherry Creek then this compilation should give you a pretty good idea. It’s a definite “Splash Party.”

South Fork of the American River

Until today, it had been quite a while since I made the journey down to Coloma to paddle the South Fork of the American. When I first moved to Lake Tahoe almost 10 years ago I used to go there all the time.

But gas prices kept rising and my motivation kept waning. Plus, the addition of the Reno Whitewater Park kept me fairly satisfied as long as it was above 800 cfs.

But this paddling season has been short lived due to poor precipitation this past winter. Many of us boaters are left feeling a little unsatisfied, and the only river that has any decent amount of water in it within a 2 hour drive of Reno is the South Fork.

The Gorge section is good fun, but if you are serious about playboating then the Chili Bar section is the way to go. The wave at Maya is a blast, and what is even better is the play hole at First Threat.

 First Threat has changed for the better. It used to be a bit disorganized and a little thrashy, but now it is much cleaner and offers a lot of opportunity for some powerful moves and tricks.

The other notable rapid that offers some fun is Troublemaker. If you want to make the rapid a lot more interesting try running the far left side. Be advised that if you do, you will definitely want to throw a strong boof stroke at the horizon line.

It was good to be back down there on the South Fork even if it was so hot and dry that it burst into flames.

South Silver

Yesterday, I found myself dropping-in to South Silver Creek with some friends from Reno, Nevada. Here is a little video I put together of what we found downstream.

South Silver from Robert Payne on Vimeo.

Video of Wild Plum, North Fork of the Yuba

Situated at the base of the Sierra Buttes and in close proximity to Sierra City, California, the Wild Plum section of the North Fork of the Yuba is a wonderfully consistent class IV run.

Roughly eleven miles in length, this section can actually be combined with Moss and Rosasco Canyons to make it even longer. However, I suspect that you will have your fill by the end of the day.

There are a plethora of fun rapids, all of which are very runnable, and if you are a solid boater your only primary concern should be several downed trees in the river. There are some significant holes, including the one at the bottom of the blown out dam, and obviously the run gets harder the higher the water level gets.

The way the North Fork of the Yuba drainage works, flows are actually highest in the afternoon. The Dreamflows’ gauge for Sierra City is off by 12 hours, and regardless, it is just an estimate. The day I ran it the flows were at the high end of their projection at around 650 cfs.

Hopefully this video provides a good depiction of the run. This time I went with a classic and often used song that I like nonetheless because it always reminds me to appreciate each day, especially on the river, that I have. One of these days I’ll get a camera with better stabilization. Until then, I’ll keep trying. Thanks to Kevin Drake for the photos. Where are we going next?

49 MEGAWATTS

Bryan Smith from The Range Life and Reel Water Production produced a fantastic video that focuses on the controversy surrounding the damming of the Ashlu in British Columbia. If you care at all about rivers, conservation, and the policies surrounding our public lands it is well worth watching.

Click here to watch.

Giant Gap, North Fork of the American Part 2

This past Sunday I made it down Giant Gap on the North Fork of the American for my second time this season. The flow was somewhat lower at around 850 cfs, but it is still a quality run even at that flow. The scenery alone is spectacular.

The video does includes a couple of scenes from my first trip, but I felt important to include them in order to give a more comprehensive picture of the entire run.

It is difficult to capture many sections of the roughly 14.5 miles simply because the canyon walls are quite steep, friends are often impatient about waiting while I set up, and I have a hard time stopping to film when I really just want to run the rapids. Despite a certain amount of diligence, there are still many other fun class IV rapids that are not featured in this video.

On another note, I still struggle with the public release of information regarding special places like Giant Gap. But my firm belief is that knowledge is power, and the more people that appreciate the beauty and remoteness of places like Giant Gap, the more chances we have to continue to protect and preserve places like them.