Tuesday, July 07, 2009

West Cherry Creek, June '09

The boys take a look from the ridge.

California. Hollywood. Baywatch. Big city life. The OC. The Dude. Oceanside. The Cruz. The Bay. Norcal. Grateful Dead. 2pac. West siiiide! Oranges. Avacadoes. Grapes. Hops. Marijuana. Farmers. Loggers. Chicanos. Gringos. Gangstas. Hippies. Rednecks. Movie stars. Shooting stars. Death Valley. Sequoia. Mammoth. Yosemite. Tahoe. Big sur. Chico. Shasta. Trinity. Humboldt. Redwoods. Mendocino. Sonoma. Traffic. Waves. Waterfalls. Trails. Mountains. Trees. Desert. Meadows. Wilderness. Granite. Sunshine.

It's a start, but certainly not enough to do justice to a place so diverse in landscape and in culture. Considering all of this diversity, it strikes me that we, as kayakers, search for the one thing that all of California's alpine rivers share in common - granite slides and waterfalls. And rather than immersing ourselves in the busy streets of the big cities, or looking for luck on a movie set or for love in one of California's many beautiful coastal towns, we find ourselves lost on dirt roads and passed out on granite slabs with no one else but the friends we came with, the stars and the river and the bears and the mosquitoes.
California Bonzai!

Inspired by a decade of LVM reports and gnarly first-hand accounts from friends, more and more boaters make the pilgrimage to the Sierra of California each year.
Working with the "boatpacks."

We follow the adventurous paths led by Muir, Kerouac, Robbins, Holbeck, Lindgren and DeLaVergne. The latter, Daniel D., once told me, "West Cherry is a kayak assisted backpacking trip." I'm not sure if he was trying to dissuade me from making the push or encouraging me to take on the challenge of hiking into Emigrant Wilderness with a loaded boat. Regardless, he planted the seed of curiosity, and 5 years later in June, along with Charlie Center, Dan and Tom Simenc, Lane Jacobs, Paul Gaumache and Andy Maser, I was finally able to ride my backpack back down this great watery path.

Dan "Skippy" Simenc launches in the 1st stout.

Look at the top of this one, and you shall see Mr. Maser getting busy in stout #2.

Charlie couldn't find the put-in, but he found all of the smoothe lines where it counted.

Skippy borrowed my camera to capture this shot of me in the entrance to a fun slide rapid.

Lane is bombing through the 2nd part of said fun slide rapid.

Compared to several of the other remote kayak-assisted backpacking trips in California, "the meat" of West Cherry Creek is accessible with a short hike of just 2-3 miles. Once at the river, the amount of backpacking involved depends on the mood of the group. The vast amphitheater of glacier-polished granite makes walking around sections of whitewater fairly easy, but most of what could be run was routed by at least one person in our crew. Visually impressive and inspiring, the energy created by running such stout slides and waterfalls carried us through two glorious days in the California sunshine.

Lane was getting bored...

Skippy was getting bored, too...

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