Kayaking in California 2

By Bill Anderson

A climbing road trip across California's diverse landscapes reveals a treasure trove of iconic climbing destinations.

Since my last California update, not much has happened. Water levels are poor at present so we seem to be spending half of our time searching out white water which is in condition.

Since leaving Chico we have travelled much further south. The weather has massively improved and the temperature has rocketed but there is less water left in the area. We managed to chat to some locals who recommended a section of the Kaweah River known as Hospital Rock. This took us inside the Sequoia National Park, a beautiful area with towering rocky peaks surrounded by wooded valleys. Once at the put in to the section we bumped into 3 Americans who were also getting on and decided to join forces. They had heard about some falls above the normal put in so we decided to hike up and investigate. If what we found was typical of the run ahead we were in for a long, hard day! We started on some nice slides with sticky holes interspersed with several small drops. The river went on and gained in gradient and the drops increased in difficulty. It was a fun river that kept you on your toes with the continuous boulder gardens hiding many undercuts and siphons along the way. It finished with a bang though with a slide-drop combo. While inspecting this final drop one of the local boys taught us an important lesson in Californian granite. He got a little close to the slide onto the wet granite and slipped into the flow. Managing to stay on his feet he ran in the flow and took a leap from the lip of the fall to clear the boulder strewn right side. Although safe this did land him in the cave at the base of the falls which required a tricky climb out from behind the large boulder we’d been inspecting from. After all running the fall we headed off the river after a hard days paddling; it had taken us 6.5 hours to cover just over 4.5 miles!

It was then time to say goodbye to two of our crew, one who’s heading home, the other to West Virginia for some work, and move on to our next area - the Kern River drainage. This was the first time we’d seen a lot of boaters in one place and again local knowledge in the bar has put us on to some good runs.

With a week of my trip left I am hoping for colder temperatures as the recent hot spell is keeping the high Sierra runs such as Upper Cherry Creek too high at the moment. Fingers crossed I’ll get lucky with it in the next few days.

Ed’s note: Photos courtesy of Phil Higgins. You can catch more or Phil’s photos in his Facebook gallery.

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