Saturday, May 21, 2011

West Side/East Side

One of the difficult parts about spring in the Sierra is figuring out where you are going to spend your time. Over a few day period in May, we got the bets of both worlds; a couple of kayak runs on the Tule river near Springville on the West Side and a couple of back country trips near Rock Creek on the East Side. Ahhh Spring...

The Middle Fork of the Tule is a great section of river nearby; unfortunately between the Kern to the South and the Kaweah to the North, it rarely gets run. It is a shame really, it is a great combination of technical rapids and smooth granite.

Marc in the Stairway Slide

I was able to get in it a couple of times with different groups in May around 360-380 cfs - a nice medium plus level. The first trip we made it through relatively unscathed (a rarity for the Tule). On the second trip we had a more standard Tule-ing...

I keep saying that I am going to do a little guide write-up for this run. Look for it soon!

One of the coolest drops on the run (and there are many) is Wall Street; a nice busy slide with an intimidating penalty box on the left side. At lower levels it is pretty straight forward, but at higher flows the barrel roll flake comes into play

Fred's Wallstreet Tombstone

Dave Barrel rolling into the penalty box

One of the good parts about holding the camera is that your carnage almost never makes it onto the internet. But for those that think I always stick my line I want to set the record straight. On my second trip I had a nice barrel-roll to one-handed-paddle-missed-roll to carp-off-the-wall-missed-roll to penalty-box-flail-slow-motion-roll. Andrew has part of it on video, but made the rookie mistake of stopping the film. Oh well, if it isn't here, then I guess it never happened....

Marc Sneaks the Beast with two Backs

Andrew looking for the boil line

One of the unique parts about the Tule is that as the water goes up and down, some rapids get easier and some get harder - there always seems to be a trade-off. At lower water Wall Street, Graffiti Slide and the "worst boof" in California get better, but other drops like the Swim Rapid, and some of the other in-between stuff gets harder. Luckily during this trip we had enough water to make the Swim Rapid pretty tolerable.

Will entering the Swim Rapid

One rapid that definitely benefits from more water is the last one above the Graffiti Slide. A nice 10 ft ledge followed by a sweet green wave boof over a pour-over. Heavenly...

Cody Upright

While the run is only about 2 miles, it is action packed, so keep on your toes. Fred got surprised by one of in-between ones and broached. Luckily the current flushed him through after a couple of seconds, but the force of the water wrenched him out of the boat and tweaked his knee pretty bad. It would not call it a very difficult run, but for whatever reason, the continuous nature always seems to create some sort of carnage - be careful out there!

Dave's Curls

Will in Graffiti Slide

Dave exiting the Tule

After trying out the liquid form of spring, we decided to try out the solid form and headed to the East Side to stay with the Martyrs in Sunny Slopes. Marc Vernon found us a nice adventure up Escha Peak and Dave, Allison, Rebecca, Marc, Mike, Doogie and Jasper rallied!

Endless Energy dogs

Starting the climb

A spectacular day on in the Sierra

The first steep part

As you may have noticed, Rebecca was pretty pregnant by now. 8 1/2 months to be exact. We were kind-of hoping she would go into labor and we would name her Escha - no such luck

We did have the good sense for her not to ski the main peak, so she waited for us at a viewing area about half-way up. A great spot at 9,000 ft!

We all really wanted to get to the peak so we could see out to the crest, but the time of day (and our lack of ability to ski down what we wanted to climb) interfered.

Ali getting ready for the final climb

As we neared the top is was somewhat humorous as we all got to a point where we were to0 nervous to ski up any farther and too nervous to turn around and ski down. I distinctly remember sitting in one place for about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to tackle this quandary; after a while I looked around and noticed that nobody else (except Marc) had moved during that time either. Since we were all in the same boat I was able to find humor in the situation and radioed to Marc "Gold Leader, this is Baby Maker - I think I shit my pants... Over"

Gold Leader Styling down

I promise, it is way steeper than it looks

Allison in here "uncomfortable" zone

As scary as it was (the thought of sliding down the hill and not stopping until you hit the rock band at the bottom was the prevalent one), it sure was a beautiful spot. After a while I turned the skis downhill and began my decent. Personally I thought it was way less nerve racking than Virginia Lakes.

Tracks, both human and canine

The next day Rebecca and I headed off up Rock Creek for a little mellow ski. Having never been up there, I can definitely say it is a very scenic ski.

Rebecca trying to ski her baby out

It was that perfect time of year when the creek transitions from flowing under the snow to peaking out and gleaming off the sun.

A hint of the stream underneath

We moved fairly slow and our goal was to make it to a good lunch spot - we found it at the lake near the base of the peaks

While we were sitting there, a group of skate skiers came down from farther up the trail and skated across the lake
Skate skiers being braver than I would be

All in all another great day in another great month in my favorite place on the planet - the Southern Sierra!

Family Portrait

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