On Sunday, I headed over to the North Fork of the Feather with some friends to take advantage of what is basically the last of any boatable flows until the rain and snow begin.
From Reno, we headed north on 395 to Hallelujah Junction and then took 70 west through Quincy to the Belden area. Be advised: we got pulled over for speeding on 395 because it is patrolled by aircraft. Needless to say, when we pulled off at the Junction, a patrolman was waiting.
The North Fork of the Feather is a roadside run that is the result of a deal that the American Whitewater organization negotiated with PG&E. The deal guarantees flows on the last weekend of each month, June – October from 10am-4pm. I have been a member of AW for quite some time, and if you are a whitewater enthusiast I recommend that you join and support them.
The run itself is class III-V with most of the difficulty crammed into about approximately a 1 mile stretch. Our group was able to run it 3 times because of the ease of access and the relatively short shuttle.
This season has been slim for me as far as kayaking; in fact, worst season on record since I started kayaking 10 years ago. I bought a brand new Jefe in the spring and never had a chance to take it out because of extensive house projects. Aside from the Rogue last weekend, where I boated a Kingpin, I had not been paddling at all.
My maiden voyage in the Jefe had me excited. I had heard many good things about this creek boat, but had never experienced them myself. I had also been warned that there is a break in period, and some of my friends had actually swam because of its nuances.
Well, swim I did. One the second run, I got pushed up against a boulder, flipped, and could not roll the damn thing. I tried several times to no avail. Eventually, I pulled my skirt and swam the most difficult section of the river. I couldn’t believe it! I used to paddle this very exact run in a playboat. It’s amazing how fast someone like myself can quickly get out of shape and out of his element.
After my Jefe disappeared for a while behind a big house sized boulder, it eventually emerged fairly unscathed. My friends pulled it to the side of the river and, after catching my breathe, I continued on. In fact, I went back for a third run to cure any psychological hiccups.
On the same disastrous second run, we came upon a group that had unfortunately experienced a vertical pin. Apparently, the paddler had to cut his kevlar skirt to get out. While the NF of the Feather is not remote or considered to be difficult class V, it has the ability to throw some surprises at the unexpected paddler.
There are numerous undercuts and sieves, and because of its ease of access and popularity there are significant possibilities for future incidents, injuries and even deaths. I hope that never happens.
Regardless, I am pleased with AW’s efforts, and it represents the opportunity to get on a fun fall run when little else is flowing.
Update: A recent post on boof.com details the pin, as well as provides some shocking pictures of the sieve that the paddler was stuck in. Check out these Flickr Photos -