Tag Archives: video

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 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?

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.

Mount Tallac, Lake Tahoe

It is indeed a strange ski season here in Lake Tahoe. We have received less than average snowfall this year, and in many locations around the Sierra Mountains it looks as if it should be late May or even June. Nevertheless, this past weekend I ventured over to the West Shore of Lake Tahoe with a childhood friend of mine to enjoy what is left.

Simons Young and I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina together, and he now works and lives in San Francisco. He came up to Reno-Tahoe to join me in some spring ski exploits before the snow effectively and completely turns to its liquid state.

Tallac is a classic backcountry ski trip and quite a journey from its lake-level elevation of 6,300 feet to its top at 10,000 feet. The physical exertion is well worth the effort, and the end result produces both beautiful views of Lake Tahoe, and some exciting skiing down some excellent terrain.

I’ll leave it to the video to give you the rest of the details.

Giant Gap, North Fork of the American

Countless travelers zooming up and down Highway I-80 between Colfax and Truckee, California would never know of the beauty that lies just beyond their vision. Just over the eastern crest resides Giant Gap, a canyon of immense depth and beauty.

Because of the continuous nature of the river, and the fact that it is quite difficult to get out of your kayak, I was able to capture limited footage of the run. Nevertheless, I hope you at least get a taste of this California classic.

Giant Gap is an upper stretch of the North Fork of the American, which is formulated by the snow melt of the High Sierras surrounding the Lake Tahoe Basin. Primarily fueled by the Granite Chief Wilderness area, Giant Gap offers crystal clear water, an abundance of rapids, and spectacular scenery.

The Gap itself is framed by vertical cliffs that would be almost impossible to climb out of if attempted; therefore, it is wise to be prepared. You should expect to run several class IV-V rapids over the course of 14.5 miles. 

To access the river you must carry or drag your boat 1.5 miles down the Euchre Bar Trail. Once headed downstream, it is not long before you are encountering rapids that continue for several miles before relenting.

The ones of most note are Nutcracker, Locomotive, and Dominator.

Nutcracker is to be approached in the center of the river right channel with a slight left-hand angle. Drive hard through the first hole and expect to immediately punch another head on. 

Locomotive is to be run on far river right, but should not be attempted at all at flows higher than 1200cfs. There is a difficult portage on the right that requires some 5.5 climbing and boat beleeing. At higher water you can get out of the river on a small rocky nook on the right, and then belee someone downstream as they walk through the water to the easiest point of ascent.

Dominatrix into Dominator can be run river left or right, but should be scouted no matter what. You will know you are approaching the rapid when the geology of the river begins to change to a lighter colored rock.

In between each of these Class V rapids are numerous class III-IV rapids that are also worthy of respect and careful negotiation.

For more information check out California Creeks, and for river levels visit Dreamflows.

Chamberlains, North Fork of the American

After winter, it is always a bit awkward dusting off the paddling gear and heading for the river. Arms feel like small rubberbands, and reflexes are still in hibernation. But after instinct and experience begin to recall their responsibilities, your body slowly remembers what it loves about paddling on a river.

It was quite nice to descend down from the snow covered Sierras to the beginnings of spring in Colfax. Chamberlains is a perfect class III-IV warm up to kick start the paddling season and remember what it is all about.

Here is a little off-the-couch production that depicts the first days of river recollection, hanging out with some Cali folks.

Backcountry Skiing Above Reno

There are several peaks above Reno, Nevada that offer excellent terrain for backcountry skiing. Here is a little video from this past Saturday that sums up the fun.