Thursday, July 01, 2004

Devil's Postpile Day 4

Day 4

We awoke from “Purgatory Camp” to a bunch of restless energy. Tommy and Fred went to retrieve the safety line and climbed up the lone cedar tree once more. They eked their way to the very top and were able to see a bit better into the right side of the river. They felt we would be able to paddle down the right hand wall and reach the pool with the exit crack above the last falls.

They removed our safety rope (our exit strategy below Broken Arrow, should we find our way impassable) and headed back to camp. The rest of the crew awoke to the finality of their decision and began to go to “war” and make it out the other side.

The first drop

photo by Nikki Kelly

We portaged the first drop and a team dropped in via the ultra-classic “Broken Arrow” Falls. The rock we planned to scout on proved to be too marginal, with most of the flow draining into a huge sieve pocket, not passable by kayak, we began to boat scout the right slot. All appeared to go down the right hand wall and the three of us dropped in. We proceeded down the right wall through a huge hole, splatted the wall and paddled into the pool above the last drop.

Daniel and Tommy dropping in to the crucible.

photo by Nikki Kelly

Tommy scouted from the left, felt the 9 foot drop was marginal due to the pocket in dropped into, but it was better than the portage. Feeling anxious, I took his directions, paddled like a banshee, dropped into the pocket and fought my way to freedom. Never have I ever been so happy to be one the other side of any place on any river ever as I was at that moment. Trust me.

Tommy on the last drop of the crucible.

photo by Nikki Kelly

We spent some time in “Shangri-La” checking out the falls and celebrating our “graduation” from the Crucible. We set out downstream headed for the confluence of the South Fork and an exit from the Crucible Gorges and the foreboding wall of the Balloon Dome.

The falls below the cruicible

photo by Nikki Kelly

To our surprise we found another four to five gorges with vertical walls shooting up forever high. To our good fortune the huge boulders in the streambed allowed us to portage the overwhelmingly huge sieves at river level. We wrapped around the end of the Balloon Dome and enjoyed a long lunch at the confluence.

For some reason or another we thought we had 4800 feet of gradient to drop total, and had still another 1200 to go. We headed down the now enlarged streambed (which held the river’s water much better). Tommy ran some big drops we chose to portage, but after a while we joined the mad bombing and made good downstream progress. Around 530, thinking we were in for another night, we rolled upon a huge blue heron and Osprey, and then there was the lake.

We made it, all we had left to do was paddle 7 miles across the reservoir to the Mammoth Pool Dam.

Good fortune was with us, and a fine gentleman named Leon and his family gave us a ride across the lake in their pontoon boat. Al G met us at the boat ramp wit h Pizza and Beer.

On the way to Fresno we came across a huge mountain lion in the road, a real special treat, topping off one of the finest river missions any of us had ever been on.

To check out footage from Day 4

Click Here


Post a Comment

<< Home