The ultimate California kayaking expedition

Darin McQuoid and I crossed the proverbial finish line at Garnet Dyke Campground Friday evening capping off our nearly 6 week California Epic with the Middle Kings. Along with other West Coast Jackson Kayak expedition kayakers Devin Knight, Ryan Knight, Chris Korbulic, and Eric Seymour; and other noteworthy paddlers including Canadian phenom Corey Boux; Cali Veteran Taylor Robertson; Colorado Icons Gary Edgeworth and Forest Noble; Chris Gabrielli; extreme innertube guy Rolf Kelly; and Tim Kelton; Darin and I set a new Sierra precedent completing 12 of California's toughest runs in 39 days including 2 first Descents. After descending Fantasy Falls, West Cherry, Dinky Creek, South Fork Tuolumne, Grand Canyon Tuolumne, Poopenaut Valley of the Tuolumne, (first Descent) NF of the San Joaquin, Upper Cherry Creek, (first descent) Fish Creek, Middle Fork San Joaquin, and the Middle Kings through Kings Canyon we were exhausted to say the least.

All told the trip involved (per person):

1. 28 days of kayaking, 8 days shuttling vehicles, and 3 days of rest and feeding.
2. 73 miles of Hiking with expedition weight (70-80+)lb kayaks, climbing around 12,600 vertical feet.
3. 155 miles of class V - V+ kayaking Descending around 28,000 feet of vertical drop.
4. 20 nights spent out of our Hero and Super Hero.
5. $500 in Gas expenses and probably a few hundred more in brakes and wheel bearing work to Darin's 88' Nisan truck.
6. $200 to $300 in food of mostly overnight stalk. One of us likes generic and the other buys the organic brands so that's where the price differential comes in...

This expedition has obviously been more than a quarter century in the making as there is a plethora of information available on most of these expeditions from from the Pioneers like Lars Holbeck, Chuck Stanley, Don Banducci, Rick Fernald, Royal Robbins, Doug Tompkins, Newsome Holmes, Reg Lake, and Kenny Gould to the Driftwood and 7 rivers crews, but would not be complete without mentioning Jared Noceti and his crew for there South T first D and Rick Smith and Kevin Smith (not related) for their NFSJ recon.

With that said this trip would not have happened without ultra-motivated Darin McQuoid. Darin is now one of the, if not the, best and most able class V whitewater photographer in the business. He also saved us countless dollars while significantly reducing our carbon footprint by running many of the most daunting shuttles in California on his 1972 Yamaha dirt bike that gets 70 - 80 miles to the gallon. More importantly he provided the crucial beta that saved our asses on the hight water crucible run.

In addition to the 12 runs that I completed with Darin, he spent the 4 days before I arrived with the Knight Brothers on a high water Dinky Creek mission, a quick East Kaweah half day, and a late night speed run down the Disney Land like slides of South Silver. With just 3 or 4 years of class V expeditions under this guys belt, I can't wait to see what the future brings. Make sure to checkout and to see Darin's impressive body of work.

Also crucial to the success of our descents was the gear that Darin and I use. Jackson Kayak creek boats are the safest, most able, and most functional on the market. Werner paddles are the most durable and time tested paddle in the Universe. Kokatat PFDs and water wear are the choice of river professionals and the United States Coast Guard. Snap Dragon spray skirts were undefeated on this trip through high water descents and falls up to 75 feet tall. FNA helmets are the strongest, stiffest, and most durable helmet on the market. There is no better way to stay hydrated than with NUUN Hydration tablets. Annie's Mac and Cheese with Smoked Oysters is a river delicacy second to none.

Stay tuned to for photos and video from the the most recent contribution to the ultimate California itinerary The 8Th River Expedition.

Swelbows on the Edge

Swelbows on the Edge
Gary Edgeworth after 5 days on the Middle Kings. Eric Seymour Photo

Sunday, July 27, 2008

June 13th, 2008: South Fork Tuolumne Box

After a complete although crowded decent of the Waterfalls of Dinkey Creek Darin McQuoid and I were motivated to get off California's proverbial beaten path for a few weeks. To bide a bit of time before our next major overnight expedition, we decided to attempt a second descent of the South Fork T Box. Also game to try something new were Chris Korbulic, Evan Garcia, Drew Duval, and friend.

The beta I had was second hand from Taylor Robertson who in turn had chatted with Jared Nocetti. The report went something like... "amazing run, we made two repels but might not bring a rope next time." Assuming that my throw and go technique was as dialed as anyones, I thought we could pull it off with the use of throw bags and some "invent-a-jumps."

Well as the story often goes, I was wrong and we spent the better part of the Day pulling off the sort of free climbing maneuvers that should be reserved for valley rats in tight pants in order to hike our sorry asses out of the Box. Big props once again to Darin McQuoid for probing the escape root and setting a line to pull the boats back up the canyon wall.

This was were our fun met our frustration, and the following day Darin and I turned it into outright stubbornness. Making a half - day round trip in the blazing Cali heat, Darin and I drove to Sanora in order to secure a climbing rope. The following day we returned to the South Tuolumne Box with Chris Korbulic intent to finish what we had started.

Hike in: 1.5 miles down Confluence Road just downstream from the highway 120 bridge
Put In: Old Mocassin Tunnel (2660 feet)
Takeout: Lumsden Road (1440 feet)
Run Length: 2.5 miles
Avg. Gradient: 488 feet per mile
Shuttle Length: 45 minutes
Put In Flow: 150 cfs
Take out Flow: 151 cfs
Our Portages: Slide for your Life*, Lookout Falls*, misc. mank
Special Notes: If you want to portage you need a rope!
*Still Unrun

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10 year extreme whitewater kayaking verteran. First descents of Rivers and creeks in 12 countries. Leo.