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Sorry Mom. First Skydive at Lodi. We all went for our friend Chris’s birthday.
A couple of weeks ago Sam and I got invited to go down Cherry Creek again with our friend Daniel who works for Voyages out of the Tuolumne operation. Our friend Nick, who worked with us in Coloma last year joined us in the raft and Andrew who also works on the Tuolumne kayaked along with us. It was another wild ride down some of the craziest commercially rafted class V rapids here in California. I actually ended up swimming in a rapid called Sky King, but it was in a relatively calm part of the rapid. Besides that it was a carnage free run.
When we got back to base to grab some lunch, we realized it was around 12:00. With so much day left, why not go raft on another river. Daniel looked on line to see if Goodwind Canyon had enough water for rafting, seeing that it did we loaded into the car and went to do some more class V rafting. Goodwind Canyon is a section of rafting on the North fork of the the Stanislaus River. It has two class V rapids with one VI that has to be portaged, if your smart enough to not try and run it, especially at the flows we were rafting at. The first class V was one of the fastest rapids I’ve ever gone down and one of the most exhilarating. Goodwind Canyon proved to be one of the most beautiful areas I’ve been rafting down. The geology of the canyon make it feel like your not in California any more, it feels similar to something you would see in the Southwest. On the final class V rapid after we scouted it and Daniel felt good about what to do, we hopped in the raft and went to make the drop into the rapid. Right before we dropped in, Daniel says “This might actually be kind of a wild ride.” A second later we go crashing into a rock and flip the raft. As soon as we all get back on the overturned raft we all burst out laughing.
On the South Fork of the American river there is a section of the river that’s good to practice kayaking called a “C to G.” That day we devised a new C to G, Daniel’s C to G, Cherry Creek to Goodwind Canyon.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday Sam and I went on a private trip down the Tuolumne River. We went with our friend Trevor who owns a small rafting company called Pirate Rafting Company. We went with a group of his friends and employees on the trip. There was another private trip with us who were a group of friends of a Voyages guide based out of the Tuolumne. We paddled for Cassandra who was training on the river to potentially do trips on the Tuolumne with Pirate Rafting. It was a great group of people to be on the river with and a great chance to get better connected to some great rafters.
The rapids on the river were excellent. Its largely a class IV river with one V. The first day on the river was a back to back class IV run with some breaks in between rapids. We camped above the largest rapid on the river, having it as the first rapid of the second day. We scouted before hands mainly for Cassandra to see what she was about to get herself into. The rapid starts with a large drop followed by a hole. Where the skill comes in is that after the first drop its easy to be pushed into a rock that is great at flipping rafts and hurting kayakers. The other private trip we were going with had a few kayakers with them and one of them dislocated his shoulder going through the rapid. We had a clean run of the rapid with no carnage coming from the rafts that day. Trevor and Daniel guiding the other boats decided that it was necessarily to guide the class V rapid of the river naked testing there clenching skills to stay in the raft. Note: they still had there PFDs on.
Some of the most fun I’ve had on a raft happened when we surfed a large hole at the end of a rapid called surf city. Surfing is done in holes (where the water is recirculated back up river) by paddling to the top of the eddy next to the hole and getting the boat between where the water is flowing into the hole and where the water is being recirculated. Once the boat is in the hole it gets tossed around and slammed with huge amounts of water. Out of all the other rafts we’re the most successful in surfing in the hole. We surfed it five times each one being a crazy ride, paddling furiously and being crushed by water. We had two people swim while surfing when the boat turned sideways and the right side tube got sucked into the hole. One of the kayakers filmed the surfing so hopefully we will be able to share it with everyone.
After a long day of paddling we cleaned up the trip, got a delicious meal at a great Mexican place in Groveland, and drove home.
quick break from talking about the journey.
Sam and I were on a full river trip with a group of 47 clients. They were a father and son group. This was Whitewater Voyages first ever full river trip. It’s 22 miles of river to go down and much of that is not in rapids. It was a grueling day, but it was mostly enjoyable. We prepared a continental breakfast, made dinner, and cooked the group breakfast the next day. We woke up on the day of the trip at 6:20 and were finished past 9:00 at night.
It was not only the first trip of the season for me and Sam, but my first working trip ever. It was exciting to be in the boat with only clients for the first time. I was a little nervous beforehand but getting on the river with them felt natural with all my practice and training paid off. I had no major problems during the day and all my clients had a good time on the river.
One secret, it was also the first time I had ever guided the largest rapid on the river, Troublemaker.
picture of Troublemaker, not of me or my clients (may have photos in the future)
From Indiana we pushed on to Wichita to stay with Sam’s grandparents on his Dad’s side of the family. We got to spend time is much of his family as his uncles and cousins came over for dinner. It was nice to see them again, Sam’s family is very enjoyable to be around. Its an interesting experience for me to see what its like to be apart a large family like his, whose members have mostly stayed in the same area. My family is much smaller and spread out so its a rare occasion where I’ll see a large group of my family members at the same time if at all. We also went to visit Sam’s other grandfather. It was a lot of fun talking with him, or really what we were doing was listening to him tell stories. He told us of his time as the unprepared captain of a small submarine chaser in the Pacific during World War II, his disbelief over the auction price of a pastel version of the Scream by Munch, and updates on Sam’s cousins.
The next day was the longest driving day Sam and I have undertaken. The original plan was to drive to southeast Wyoming, camping in a Guernsey State Park and make our way to Yellowstone the next day. We got there sometime between 5 and 6, so it seemed too early to stop. We decided to venture on so we would have less of a drive to Yellowstone. We found Boysen State Park in mid-Wyoming that put us a few more hours closer to Yellowstone. On our way there we discovered the Wyoming doesn’t like putting up “no services in so many miles” signs for travelers, leading us to nearly run out of gas. Luckily as that needle was dropping to an uncomfortable level we found a small store and gas station in the middle of no-where. It was the first time that we have had someone pump our gas for us, which proved helpful for the attendant for it allowed her to notice that her cows had gotten out of their pen. Sam’s GPS has a bad habit of deciding that prime destination in parks is the middle of them. Since this proved to be the middle of a lake we ended up far down a few private dirt roads. This proved to be of some interest for we found ourselves coming upon a herds of antelope. But as the sky got darker and darker it was time to get in our tents. When we finally found a park entrance, we slowly went back and forth on the dirt roads of the park trying to find these theoretical camping grounds. After much frustration and tension we saw a picnic table and decided that counted as a camping site. We settled down under more stars then I had seen for quite some time and rested up for our first day in Yellowstone.
Leading up to our departure day there wasn’t an incredible amount of planning or preparation we had to do. We still had all the equipment from last year making it unnecessary to have to think too hard about what we needed. The day before we left was spent scurrying around putting together everything and packing with the question of “this seems too easy, we must be forgetting something” running through our minds.
The biggest difference for me this time around was the total lack of nervous anticipation. Having had already done everything the year before and it all going so well, I had nothing to worry about. It was strange. It made it seem like I wasn’t leaving or that it was a big deal. When we started driving away from my house was when it finally hit me that we were driving across the country to spend over two months in California. I realized it would be the longest period of time away from Arlington.
Driving felt good on departure day, it was exciting to hit the road again taking the scenic route to get to southern Indiana. When we got there I made the unfortunate realization that I made a poor decision in which of my sleeping bags to bring (the less warm of the two). The next four days were going to prove to be an experiment in using various materials to stay warm at night. That night i put on the warmest of the sleep cloths that I brought with me. After breaking out our first batch of vegan glop (our version of of a lentils dish that we made a few gallons of) we got in our tents and got ready for the next leg to Wichita Kansas.
We haven’t had much time to add text to the blog but know we are all settled at Whitewater Voyages we can write our hearts out. I was thinking I would start from the beginning and work our way to the present. I’ll break up the posts into easily chewed and digestible parts.
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