Sunday, June 01, 2008

Cali Dreams.......

As summer begins to show itself in the Pacific Northwest it seems that everyone is buzzing about California. The land of Granite and sunshine is much more fickle than our home and requires careful attention as specific zones begin coming in. Last week a crew from Hood River, Oregon began traveling south en route to California with the plan to put on the Middle Feather for a three day tour. The APB was sent out a few weeks ahead of time and by friday morning 12 paddlers had arrived at "Shuttle Steves" house ready to put on the Feather. The Middle Feather is a classic California Multi-day trip consisting of three full days of fantastic whitewater. Nothing to hard, but constant and absoulutly geourgeous!

We put on the water mid afternoon and quickly became reeassured that bringing down jackets and rain gear was a good idea as a light drizzle began to set in. We paddled about ten miles of great water before finding our first camp. The rain ceased late in the afternoon allowing us to set up camp and settle in.

After setting up tarps and trying to dry gear we immediatly started a fire, which became the focal point as everyone began preparing dinner. Prior to putting on the river I was determined to eat well, but realized that I might have over commited as I began unloading my food. It was estimated that I brought ten pounds of just wine and carrots. So, two bags began quickly circuling around the campfire; one was filled with carrots and the other filled with wine. "would you like an appetizer" became the line as I enthusiastically began to try to reduce the load of my boat. Everyone pitched in and the wine and carrots quickly began to dwindle.

The next morning we awoke to a light rain, and the crew moved slow as we slid back into our drysuits and began making coffee before starting breakfast. Our friends from Tahoe kept joking that this was only the second time they had paddled in the rain. They seemed so excited, like a kid who rarely has the opportunity to play in the snow. Everyone from Oregon would just stare with genuine confusion, as if we were all trying to remember the last time we paddled in the sun. Regardless, everyone was excited about the day ahead and once on the water the rain became less evident. Day 2 brought lots of great rapids as our large group began bombing through in tight formation. After five or six hours we arrived at the PCT bridge which marked our second camp above the final gorges.

The rain cleared as we set up camp, offering a small window to launch into a competitive series of beach bochi ball. Keel Brightman beat me in a tight battle as everyone else enjoyed the break in the weather by lounging around camp. After dinner everyone gathered around the fire to engauge in the time honored tradition of sipping tequila and talking some serious s$%t.

The next morning we were awoken to clear skies and sunshine. The "California Dream" was starting to materialize! After a leisurly breakfast we took the opportunity to lounge in the sun as our gear rapidly dryed on the quickly warming rocks. Day 3 Takes you through the Devils Canyon, and arguably the most dramatic scenery on the river. Granite seems to emerge from the river and climb into the sky creating a dramatic background as we made our way downstream. At this point in the trip I became overwhelmed with just how good the quality of the river was. Long continous rapids and the vantage of 11 of my closest friends bombing down in front of me. The "California dream" was alive and well!

Pictures: (Above) Shawn and Rob sideways scouting as Matt drops in. (Below) Loading Zak's Rig enroute to the put-in. Rob rigging his boat. A Salamander's perspective. The crew: 12 deep on day one. Camp one- enjoying the fire. Dave and Dan keeping it clean. Blue Angel was the style. A home for seven of us. Camp Two. Day 3- Downstream perspective. Matt Gaudete getting into it. John Boone Sending Helicopter. Jay, Rob, an Ryan watching on as Dave and Dan make there way through a mini-gorge. Keel Brightman exiting one of the incrediable gorges on day 3.

All Photos courtesy of: Keel Brightman, Ethan White, and Jay Gifford

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