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May 20, 2005

The water came up in Reno on the whitewater park, with
the warm
weather and rain. I got to do more paddling with Jay Kincaid, and the
there, but heavy rains and warm weather were happing just over the mountains
in California, meaning FLOODS! We made it over the "hill" without
the need
for chains, since it was raining up to 8,000 feet. If it was snowing,
would have been a long time before the pass opened up.

We pulled into Scott Lindgren’s town of Meadow Vista,
and ate at Mountain Mike’s Pizza with him and Jenning. Scott schooled
me on the pinball game there two out of three times, over a pizza and
some Fat Tire Amber Ale (yummy). Scott and Jenning took us back to their
house, that they have been working on for a year. Initially I was following
him in the RV, pulling the Mini only to realize that that would be impossible.
We "set shuttle" and got a ride to their house leaving the RV
in town. Little Dave worked his wonders making the most awesome counter
tops, doorway stones, etc. out of cement. He is a craftsman and any kayaker
looking to do home improvements needs to call in Little Dave! Their house
is beautiful, and cozy, even though it is only 80% finished.

Nick was quite psyched to be in the house of world
famous Scott Lindgren, and even more excited that him, Dane, and Emily
would sleep there. Scott showed off some film from surfing the tube wave
at number 11 with ocean surfer guys (surf boards), and it was quite a

We woke up and ate pancakes compliments of Dane, Nick,
and Jenning, while Scott checked the gauges with everything running in
the red zone (flooded). The North Fork was 15,000 in the early morning
and rising by 1,200 cfs per hour! The highest the river had been run in
the past 15 years was 17,000 cfs and it was already 20,000 before we got
there! Nobody knows if it has ever been run this high. It is funny because
the first time I came to California, in January of 1998, it was also during
a flood, much like today, and we ran into Scott, the Knapps, and more
at the South Fork at the highest level ever. Seeing that I don’t live
here, I have been quite lucky with the water!

OK, so we did run the river!

Scott, Charlie, and I got dropped off at the standard
put-in, which was well in the trees. We peeled out and headed down the
middle of the river, which was chaos. Big boils, waves popping up and
dissapearing, and messy eddies coming off the walls. I don’t know this
run, and have only done it once at low water, certainly have no idea what
is around any corners. The river was flying at an easy 20+ miles per hour.
Scott lead the run, having run it at 17,000 years earlier, and knowing
the rapids well at lower water. We came upon several rapids worthy of
scouting and certainly not a "walk in the park" attitude type
of place. Several lines were huge water, going through major breaking
wave/holes, trying to avoid even bigger pourovers and nasty eddylines.
The first rapid Scott scouted, Chamberlain Falls, while Charlie and I
waited in the eddy, was fun and we each got a surprise waiting over the
big wave Scott could see from the shore. On the back side of the wave,
which Scott recommended charging over to the left of, lurked a huge angled
pourover coming off the wall. Each of us saw it only after we cleared
the first big wave and I know that I got wide eyed and had just enough
time to say, "whoa baby!" before tucking hard and bracing downstream.
The brace didn’t do a whole lot of good since I went pretty deep and ended
up popping up in the eddy. The eddy was more of a boil fest with the water
slamming the wall and exploding in every direction. It only lasted about
10 seconds as I got a small calm spot in time to watch Charlie zoom past
swirling around.

There were two more noteable rapids that we scouted,
that both had me upside down at one point or another. We did the whole
7 miles in 40 minutes!

We got to check out a few impressive holes, on the
way, a few that required some last minute maneuvering to avoid, and it
all seemed like a read and run trip to me with Scott having a little more
knowledge of where we were, but still virgin territory at this level.

We are heading to the South Fork tomorrow and then
to the Merced in Yosemite to hit some more big water.

🙂 EJ



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Take out of the North Fork of the American at 20+ thousand

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Scott, EJ, and Charlie getting started

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Putting in North Fork of American at 20,000 cfs +

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EJ in his yellow Fun- the boat of choice for this run

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Charlie Center, Scott Lingren, and EJ getting on the No. American at flood