Devil's Postpile Day 1
Devil’s Postpile of the San Joaquin River Day 1
After a leisurely morning at the Devil’s Postpile National Monument campground with lots of coffee drinking and other such pre-expedition activities designed to stall out the inevitable and approaching high water putin, we began a solid crack of noon start.
All we really knew about the river is that you want the “perfect” water level, which according to Willie Kern is 550-650 cfs flowing into the Mammoth Pool. Rick Smith and Scott Lindgren both told us that we want a meager flow at Rainbow Falls, with the brink of the fall having water all the way across, but barely. They also said that the first rapid should look “not runnable or barely runnable” and that the river should be almost not floatable. We were facing ample flow, easy to float on and the first rapid was “Awesome”.
Willie also told us we were facing a seven-mile “portage” down the river to the “slides”.
We had a pleasant chat with a “bro-bra” ranger who informed us of the new “CFR”, Code of Federal Regulations changes, which made it illegal to kayak in the National Monument. But he did say if he saw us the he would give us the Devil’s Horns hand signal and say “awweeaayeeah”. From the appearance of the volcanic rock in the riverbed and the potential for trouble with the law we elected to drive a mile downstream to the Rainbow Falls trailhead and walked a mile and half to the base of the 80-foot falls.
Earlier in the week we found a postcard of the falls that appeared to have the recommended amount of flow for the run, and the water spouting off that 80 footer that morning was certainly more than we were supposed to have in the riverbed.
Tommy and Freddy ran the first gorge we came to and then we started walking high staying out of the riverbed and on the granite bench on river right.
Right at the end of our long portage Tommy and Toby dropped in early and ran a nice double drop.
Toby paddling the Bliss-stick MAC somewhere above the first crack in the earth, Devil's Postpile
photo by Nikki Kelly
Toby portaging after the sweet double drop.
photo by Nikki Kelly
Near the end of the day we came upon a pothole into a slide affair with a huge recirculating hole. Tommy ran it and barely made it out of the backwash.
We ran some big slides and then deicided to camp mid slide section.