Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lower McCloud, CA

Fish enters Tuna Falls.

The Lower McCloud is 27-mile section of river that feeds the McCloud arm of Lake Shasta north of Redding. This is a great creeking training run or overnight shakedown trip. The rapids are technical and occasionally steep without being dangerous, continuous, or intimidating. We had flows of 370 cfs. The Seattle contingent (Nick Borelli. Mike Novak, and Scott Waidelich) met up with the California contingent of Bill Tuthill, Herb, and Shaun who is working in Cali. Bill also brought Chris, a friend of his along trying out some IKing after years of canoeing. For more on this run, visit Bill's California Creeking.

We opted to put in below the dam rather than at Ah-Di-Nah and it was a great call. This 2.5 mile addition to the normal 24 mile run included many great drops and the most consistent action on the river. It was still mostly III-IV with a IV+ or two. Everything could be portaged and scouted, and we took our time about it, enjoying the lush shady river corridor and blue water.

Most of the crew at putin: Novak, Herb, Nick, Fish, Shaun. (L to R)

Shaun in a warmup rapid.

The first big rapid was also the winner of the mank award. A decent line for hardshells on the left, but the IKs were forced to a wider tougher line on the right. Everyone who ran styled it though, so it's all good.

Novak finds the left side flake.

The author, practicing the oft-needed rock-hand brace.

Next up was a fun double ledge with a great line down the right. An easy portage available on the left if needed.

Chris goes big in his Innova.

Fish gets as left as left can be.

More fun class III then another distinct drop, this time with a narrow right side entry into a bedrock fence. It's always cool to run drops that are unlike anything you've seen before, even if it's only a feature or two. At the putin, Fish had warned of his concerns about safety on his first self-support trip in the hardshell. "Rescue the beer first -- boat second. I'll get myself to shore."

Bill works his way over the bedrock fence.

Fish works left after the entry. Unfortunately, the river gods were looking for a little cold Heineken ...

Shaun in a typical corner on the McCloud.

Nick is so money.

This first section of river featured three or four rapids with the same move -- enter right over a small ledge the get back right quickly for the runout. Here're a couple of those drops.

Bill nails his entry move.

Fish follows suit.

Shaun makes the left right move right into the pocket eddy.

Chris shows incredible swimming technique -- still in paddlin' position while his boat gets worked!

I think we passed Ah-Di-Nah somewhere in here. Lots of fishermen here -- and everywhere else along the river. Amazing how grouchy people can be in such a beautiful place.

Rule # 1: Don't give up on that brace!

Herb makes an entry move.

Sunny canyon scenery.

Camp was a nice level bench with loads of defoliated poison oak. I hear Fish has an itchy ... head. It had plenty of room, and to top it off, a huge black bear was crossing the river 100 yards below camp when we landed. I hid all the jerky near Shaun's boat ...

The morning of day 2 offered more III fun. McCloud Swim Club was a fun technical drop with a narrow route and several hundred yards of rock dodging before a fun double drop of six feet or so. The next big drop was Double Drop proper, a widely spaced drop of two four foot ledges.

Novak in the top of Double Drop.

Chris in Double Drop.

Fish movin' left.

Shaun in the second drop.

Nick opts for the right line.

Fish in a typical McCloud drop.

Next up was Tuna Falls a ten foot boulder bar with a nice pillow move into a big hole. The runout offered a little wood and a great decapitation rock on the right side ledge. Many chose to portage, but this was one of the cleanest big drops on the run -- good stuff for sure. To top it off, Novak took the chance to run his rapid in an IK.

Novak hits a huge brace in Shaun's boat.

The author, riding the pillow right.

More fun III then Valhalla -- aka The Reagan Years: enter center, keep moving right. This actually looked like the left line was good to go, but nobody wanted to follow my signals.

Bill lines up for the rock move.

Chris squares up for a rock hit.

Shaun remembered rule #1!

Below here the river lost gradient, but every time we thought we were done, we came up on another fun III boulder garden. The McCloud is a fun friendly trip -- good creeking intro or self-support intro. I'm sure we'll be back for the reliable fall flows in this beautiful canyon.

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