Saturday, May 16, 2009

MF Tule

Some strange May weather brought rain to the Sierra - enough to bring in a couple of runs that we thought were done for the year. We jumped on the chance to do one of our favorites; the Middle Fork of the Tule.

We had a great group; Adrian a Swiss paddler on an American Cruise, Tim and Chad from back east and our buddy Alex from - well, from the back of his truck. We also had a great level for the first timers, 270 cfs with only a little diversion (felt more like 290). What ensued was pure fun!

Yep, that's pretty much the Tule
The Tule is a nice mix of granite slides and boulder gardens - Clay Wright said it's the perfect introduction for an eastern boater to Cali Creeking. I can't really argue with him; it's got technical moves, fun slides and a few munchy holes.

Alex on the welcome rapid

Chad on the first long rapid

Eric eyeing wallstreet
My favorite rapid on the Tule - Corner Pocket

It is hard to pick a favorite on this run, but I think Corner Pocket is mine; you run a 5 footer into a channel and then catch a micro eddy above a huge sieve (running out the left side of the picture above). From their you bank of the pillow under a huge overhanging boulder and drop the remaining 10 feet into the pool below. Scary but fun!
Rebecca in the pocket

The Tule is one of those runs where there are just too many rapids to count, pretty much all of them in the IV+ to V- range. If you know the run, it is 3-4 hours of read and run with the occasional scout - if you don't it can be a 6 hour marathon of scrambling on the slickest rock in the Sierra (Tule granite is the reason I only use shoes with 5-10 rubber).
Alex at the bottom of another fun one

Rebecca having fun

The only downside of the Tule is the human element; we have had full beer cans chucked at us by some of the trailor-trash that hangs out on the river banks. Also the graffiti is omnipresent (I think every rapid can be named by the graffiti that appears next to it). One of the most impressive works of wilderness art is on one of the last rapids (see my "Fools with Tules post from last year for a picture).
Tim on the Graffiti Slide

Downtime at a safety spot

As I mentioned before, there are a few munchy holes on this run, and as fun as it is, someone usually gets "Tuleed"; this trip was no exception as Tim got his creek-boat rodeo on for a while in the standard swim rapid.

Obligatory picture of the passification of the River Gods ritual

A little vid of Rebecca on the Graffiti Slide
All in all another great day on the river - glad to catch up with Tim and Chad during their California adventure.

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