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, September 7, 2008

July 6th, 2008: Middle Fork of the Kings

After a exhausting if not successful Fish Creek/ San Joaquin combo descent, Darin McQuoid and I were abot to hit the wall. In this case the wall refers to the 14 mile net 7000 vertical hike into the Middle fork of the Kings.

Despite taking only a single day in between pulling are boats off Mammoth Pool Reservoir, and setting foot on the Bishop Pass Trail head, Darin and I were fired up to significantly increase the size of our team with old friends from Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Eric Seymour and Gary Edgeworth rallied 13 hours from Jackson Hole, WY to the put-in while New Mexicans, Rolf Kelly and Tim Kelton, picked up whitewater legend Forrest Nobble at the Las Vegas airport half-way into their 20 + hour marathon drive to the take out continuing on for 7 more hours to the put-in. You can translate the effort put into the cross country drive to the quality and sheer magnitude of this run. There is no other descent in North America that seems to even come close to the kind of stats that the MFK puts up. 43 miles of Kayaking dropping over 7500 vertical feet with a paddle to portage ratio only challenged by the Fantasy falls run of the Mokelumne.

Everyday we wondered aloud how the hell Tommy Hilke and John Grace made it to the Yucca Point trail head in a single 19 hour push as we toiled for 5 days through one of the most beautiful and demanding whitewater runs on earth.


Hike In: South Lake TrH to LeConte Canyon (14 miles up 3000 feet down 38oo feet)
Put In: John Muir/ Bishop pass trail intersection (8600 feet)
Take Out: Garnet Dyke Camp Ground (1240 feet)
Run Length: 42 miles
Avg. Gradient: 180 fpm
Shuttle Length: 7.5 hours (one-way)
Put-In Flow: 175 cfs
Take-Out Flow: 1250 cfs
Portages: 13 (First Mank, 2nd choice*, Split decision, bottom of good morning 2o foot falls to start of exit gorge, big-bad beaver, 6 x bottom 9, 2 x Garlic Falls)
Special Notes:
- All of the portages are under 15 minutes long except one which was 20 minutes on a maintained trail.
- First known descent of Butter Buns aka Can of Crushed Ass.

*Still Unrun

Produced By Ben Stookesberry with Video By Rolf Kelly


E.G. said...

yeah ben yall just got it all done man mad shit dude. that drop on nf san joaquin looked super ill. good kings mission and wrapped it up with more first D's. but through all of that you got a 8 and some climbing stuff of mine maybe chris has it, but anyway later and i will be looking forward to seeing more of your stuff soon. I have been keeping my blog up to date it will prove that i don't always ditch out on the missions. just sometimes!hahaha
later evan

Ken Corbett said...

Loved it all, especially the long slide on the smooth rock chute. We don't have big water like that anywhere near where I live.

ryan said...

I love puracane!!!!

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