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July 4-7, 2003

Me, in a self portrait taken upside down in my kayak.
I’d trolled the internet and my email address book for something cool to do over the July 4th holiday, and got a few responses. I was torn between surfing in Mexico and paddling rivers in Northern California, and I ended up heading north with my friend Kristi. My truck was loaded with 1 Bicycle, 2 paddlers, 3 kayaks, and 5 paddles, tons of food, so we were clearly set. Our goal was simple, we both wanted to paddle some new rivers.

Me, doing cartwheels in my kayak.
Friday, our first stop after a long drive was the Kings River. 9.5 miles of fun class III, with some suprisinging fun play spots (For those that don’t know, playboating is using a kayak and features on the river, like waves and holes, to do tricks, like surfing a wave, or doing bow stalls and cartwheels. Fun stuff).

Fun fun river. We had stashed my bike at the end to run shuttle, but spent a long time playing, and by the time we got to the end, it was getting late. Some nice boaters from LA offered a ride, which I happily took. Cook dinner, load the car, and we drive to the Toulumne River.

Ugh, it’s late and we can’t find a spot to camp. We finally pick a wide spot on a side street, and crashed out hard.

Saturday,we woke early, and meet Chris and Matt, who are going to paddle the Toulumne with us, and Chris’s wife Colleen, who has offered to run shuttle. Drive to the put in, grab a campsite, and wait.

The Toulumne is 18.5 miles long, with lots of solid Class IV rapids, and one class V. It’s a dam controlled section, so we have to wait for the flow to come up, and then there’s a relatively short period that we can get on. We hop on, and paddle away, scouting most everthing from the boat, only getting out for the class V rapid, Clavey Falls. It’s fun, relatively challenging water, and I enjoy the heck out of it. One of the most continuously cool rivers I’ve been on.

We enjoy lunch at Calvey Falls (V) and scout it. There look to be a few lines, the rafts are all going right, which looks big and powerfull, we watch some kayakers take a sneak route on the left, which still looks hard. I decide to go for it, running the right side where the rafts went. It’s big in there, but I feel good. Part way down I get backwards, and run a bit of the rapid that way, but get turned around. Fun. Chris and Kristi take the right side line, Matt (in the smallest boat of us all) decides to walk it.

Many more fun rapids, lots of good stuff. Matt and I are playing a bit, I’m suprised how well the bigger boat I’m paddling cartwheels, being used to a small boat. Furthur down the run, I try and drop into a surf wave to play and get flipped. Before I can roll, I smack a rock pretty hard with my shoulder. I still roll, and finish the run, but my shoulder is pretty sore.

A long paddle across part of a lake takes us to our car, and we drive back to camp. Dinner and I’m out like a light.

Chris, Kristi, and Matt chilling in and eddy below Calvey Falls.

Sunday we wake, Matt and I run shuttle, Chris and Colleen head to Yosemite to climb, and we wait for the water. Matt, Kristi and I put on, and talk to a girl who’d busted her face up pretty good saturday. She looks familar, and later I remember having met her at the Kern. She and her friend offer to take my car up the road for us, which is great, since it shortens our shuttle by an hour or so at the end of the day.

Super fun paddling, this is one of my favorite rivers I’ve done. It goes a lot like Saturday. Matt and I run Clavey, again I feel solid. I get flipped elsewhere, but roll right up. Kristi takes a swim somewhere after getting a bit worked, but everyone is fine.

Later it happens. My least favorite moment so far in my paddling career. We’re in the middle of a long Class IV, I’m leading, and feeling ok, although my shoulder is sore and I’m not paddling as well as normal. Right towards the end of the rapid, where it’s easier, I flip. Something that has happend to me hundreds of times, normally I roll up and it’s nothing.

I feel my body hit a rock, slide over it, and fall down the other side, I set up to roll, and hit another rock, and another. I hit 4 times, hard, on my already sore shoulder and the side of my head. I’m in agony, and pull the skirt. Right now I don’t care about swimming, I just don’t want to hit another rock. Turns out I was through the rapid, and should have stayed in the boat, but there was no way I could have known that.

Matt and Kristi help me and my boat into an eddy. I’m in allot of pain, if we’d been on the Kern I would have walked out to the road, but we’re in a somewhat remote canyon, so after a while I suck it up and we paddle on. I do the rest in pain, and paddle conservativly. By the end I feel better, but still hurting.

Matt takes off at this point, Kristi and I cook dinner at my car, and talk to a few boaters. We planned on running the Stanislaus river monday, but we hear there is no water, so we head up to the American. Another late night driving, and we camp there.

Monday My shoulder and ear are really hurting, and I just kind of ache. Feel like I went a few rounds with Tyson. I want to do something easy and fun, and the South Fork of the American is the plan. Unfortunately the river gods (dam control guys) decide they need to refill the resevoir, so that’s not going to happen, they’ll be no water. We meet Will from San fransico, and decide we’ll run the Mokulumne River, just a bit south. will picks up his new Dagger boat, and we enjoy some Cinnamon rolls. Head south and hop on the river. It’s perfect. Easy with some fun play spots, pretty with clear water and trees. Just what I need to work the kinks out and we have fun playing. It’s a long drive home, I talk Kristi’s ear off to stay awake, but it goes smoothly.

So the diagnosis is that my shoulder has bruising on the bone, which will be fine shortly, and that I ruptured my ear drum. This too should heal, and I should be able to do everything I did before, including SCUBA dive, though not for a few weeks. A bit of a drag, but could be much worse…