At the end of June I was competing at the World Championships in Spain, and while I was out there training I was also anxiously watching water levels in California to see what was going to still be in by the time I got back to the US. Though while the event was happening people were getting on Royal Gorge, Fantasy Falls, and the earlier runs. Once I got back to the US from Spain I drove pretty much the same day straight down to Cali to start my trip off with whatever I could get. Though for the first few days I was inbetween levels for the later multi days to come in like West Cherry. I met up with Michael Ferraro and we managed to get a few laps on the day runs like Hospital Rock and a juicy East Kaweah. We also managed to find our way to the South Fork of the Kings roadside section, which is recommended somewhere around 500-900cfs I believe. But we put on with about 2,500cfs which was super stout, but so sick. It felt like the North Fork of the Payette but with way more holes. It was a nice switch up from the tight Cali gorges and a great way to spend our day before moving onto whatever was next.The following day Ferraro and I then went and did a one day West Cherry, which is normally a multi day but we decided to do a single day to keep the boats light, as we were the first ones in and the water was bound to be fairly high. We hiked in and found it to be high but in the end just making it that much better, though quite stouter. Once the door was open for West Cherry, I ended up hiking in 3 more times over the next week doing 2 day trips. Including my birthday lap showing Nick down for his first time which was an awesome way to spend my birthday, plus the party at the Iron Door delivered as always. Once levels started to get on the low side of West Cherry, I took a day or two to reset on some day runs before committing to the 14 mile hike in to a one day Upper Cherry with Carson Lindsay and Ben “The Phantom” Coleman. Ben had to be back to work the following day so we committed to a one day with him, which in the end Upper Cherry is just an awesome day of so much quality whitewater. Carson and I had intended on hiking back into Upper Cherry to do it properly and overnight it. But on the one day we realized the water level was already on the low side and dropping fast so we decided to stick with the one lap. But the good news was as soon as we were done with Upper Cherry, one of my favorite day runs was finally dropping in, The Panther section of the Upper Middle Kaweah. 4 miles of hiking brings you to the top of a few hours of such sick proper Cali style whitewater. Nearly no portages, great from top to bottom, and I am always stoked to drop into there. Carson and I ended up getting a few laps on here before headed south to Kernville for a few days while we wait for whatever seemed next. Unfortunately the Cataracts had dropped to low levels by this point but we still got a few days of Thunder run laps, as well as my first time in the Forks on the Kern which was a super pretty joy run. Though at this point with a few days left it seemed that I was going to need to head north back to White Salmon to get my RV and head east before the one thing I have alway wanted came in; The Middle Kings. The Middle Kings is one of the most famous Cali runs for both it’s stout hike in as well as the epic whitewater. I just have never been able to be around once it drops in as it usually comes in super late season after a bit of a somewhat lull time. But somehow due to this years unusual levels it started dropping fast just in time for myself, Ben Coleman, and Carson to get a somewhat speed lap in. Granted it was already at a higher flow than most people have been in there but both of these boys felt we would be able to work around having that extra juice so we went for it. The hike itself over Bishop’s Pass was one of the greatest places I have ever gotten to check out and was already something worth seeing on it’s own. 12 miles up and over, starting off in the wilderness and peaking over barren rock gardens, then descending down to the river itself. Despite my DIY backpack system falling apart making things more complicated I enjoyed every bit of that hike and I look forward to the next opportunity I have to experience it. We started hiking early morning and finished mid afternoon, giving us enough time to get the first few miles of the river done and camp at the beginning of the main gorge. The next day we then did 7 1/2 hours of just unreal whitewater and stout gorges down to Tehipite Valley where lied one of the best campsites I have gotten to enjoy. From there we finished the “Bottom 9” miles of stout boulder gardens, which with the extra flow definitely made things a bit spicier. But it just ended up being a few hours of unreal quality whitewater and rapids, plus my favorite kind of boat scouting. We finished the Bottom 9 fairly quickly in just over 3 hours, with no portages for myself. Once into Garlic Falls at the confluence it was pretty much smooth sailing all the way down to the take out. I mean, Garlic Falls itself was still full of stout features but felt like lots of room to move around at that point. Once everything was done and we finished off the shuttles, and split up, I couldn’t believe how perfect that Cali season ended for me. Luckily I had people like Ferraro, Carson Lindsay, and Ben Coleman to motivate because there would have been lots more sitting around if not for those boys. So thanks to all the boys that motivated with me because I may have showed up late but I still had one of the best Cali summers I have ever had!
Here are a few videos I posted on my YouTube from this summer, I will do a stand alone blog post and video with my Middle Kings experience soon enough. Till then check out the rest!
Thanks for reading
East Kaweah + Hospital Rock
West Cherry One Day
Upper Cherry One Day
Upper Middle Kaweah “Panther Creek Section”