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

Friday, July 25, 2008

June 4th, 2008 Fantasy Falls

From Colorado my plane ticket to SFO was just 90 dollars. Add in a taxi ride to the Amtrack station and Amtrack service to Sacramento, and $150 was all that it took to travel 2000 miles to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Of course once in Sacramento the public transportation options come to an end. Fortunately three of the nations preiminnet boaters Devin Knight, Ryan Knight, and Darin McQuoid showed up on cue with the Timberworks F250 to open up the world renown options that exist in California's 500 mile long Sierra Nevada Mountains. The boyz had just hit up Dinky Creek on the higher side of good, and talk of the Royal Gorge took center stage.

"Too low... 500 cfs on the gauge will barely float you in there" declared Devin. As it turned out, a few groups had already taken the the low water bate on the RG as flows were reportedly way to high on the next candidate in line Fantasy falls. But as Devin and I found out 2 years ago running Fantasy nearly a foot above previously recorded descents, the North Fork Mokelulmne above Salt springs reservoir can handle some water. After 2 weeks running the high flows of Colorados record snow pack and the boyz recent juice flows on the Dink, the choice was easy: go straight to one of the best class V multi-days in the world: the Fantasy Falls Canyon of the North Fork of the Mokelumne.

Huge props to Darin McQuoid for spending 6 hours after the run working out the creative shuttle with his unregistered dirt bike and some hitchhiking!

Put In: Hwy. 4 Bridge (elevation 7100)
Take out : Salt Springs Reservoir (elevation 3900)
Run Length: 25 (5 miles of Lake paddle)
Avg gradient: 160 feet per mile
Run Duration: 2.5 days
Shuttle Duration (one way): 2.5 hours
Put In Flow: 250 cfs
Take Out Flow: 900 cfs
Our Portages (8): The Untouchables*, Good 2 Go Gorge, Pacake, Syrup, Mangina, Vortex Slide, Island Slide, and Bear Trap.
Special Notes: Could probably be run with double this flow.
*Still unrun

Produced By Ben Stookesberry and Devin Knight

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