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July 16, 2006

By Phil Boyer. Learn more about Phil.

Hey there E.J.

I hope that this story finds you while you are having fun on a river

Life is just Fantasy Falls.

Spring time in the California Sierras offers some of the best boating
in the world and when the lower elevation runs start to dry up we then head
up into the high Sierras where the multi day runs begin.

I just had the opportunity to kayak the Fantasy Falls run on the North
Fork Mokulumne with Justin Patt. The run begins at 7500 feet in elevation in

Hermit Valley along highway 4 in the middle of the Mokulumne Wilderness. The

terrain here is very rugged and one would not want to have to hike out. The
river is surrounded by tall pine trees growing out of granite walls and
domes which rise high above the river reaching for the blue skies. Justin
and I were blessed with warm weather, clear skies and three days of kayaking

ahead of us so we couldn’t ask for any thing more.
We got to the put in a little late in the year for this run but there
was still water in the river so off we went. The first few miles were a bit
low and rocky but with several side creeks coming in the river cleaned up a
bit and made for some fun rapids. Justin and I were making pretty good time
since it was just the two of us paddling on this trip and we found ourselves

being able to do quite a bit of reading and running until we got into the
gorges. There are several distinct gorges during the first day with some
great rapids; however, at the flow we had one must watch out for the
numerous piton rocks and the wood that is in the river. We found some of the

rapids that would have been runnable we had to portage due to trees in
either the entry or the exit of the rapids but the portaging was for the
most part easy and at water level. We spent about seven hours kayaking the
first day until we found our home for the evening just off of the river
nestled among the pine trees and granite domes. The evening was spectacular
with the full moon lighting up the canyon and knowing that we were the only
ones around.

Day two started out with a mellow paddle through the tree lined river until
we got into the first of two gorges which are portaged on river left around
the granite domes. We did scout both gorges on river right and came to the
conclusion that if one does decide to run the gorges they will be running
everything with no opportunities to get out for either portaging or scouting

and a rescue is not really an option. We also found that at the water flow
we had some of the drops would have been great but then the next drop was
boulder choked with sieves or wood or both so we made the prudent choice and

portaged both gorges.

After a nice lunch we then continued down stream to the drops that this run
is named for, Fantasy Falls. Fantasy Falls is a 36 foot waterfall which
drops into a beautiful pool that flows out into another 15 foot waterfall.
Both of these falls are runnable at any flow and are both super fun. Both
Justin and I had a great time running these drops and if it was not for our
boats being loaded down with gear we would have run them multiple times.
After the falls there is alot of fun class four five read and run with a
scout thrown in here and there for safety purposes until you reach a very
long runnable slide. We ran the slide down the middle line for the top
section and down the left lin for the bottom section which is the best part.

After heading the slide on the left it drops into some super fun rooster
tail style waves which send you straight into a small chute that has a
granite wall on the left and a curtain of water falling off of the rock wall

on the right all the while you are heading into the hole which sends you off

to the right and down the next sliding falls to the bottom of the drop. This

is a very long and fun rapid just what one looks for in these higher
elevation runs.

We found camp down stream from here a little ways on river right which was
on a nice granite slab. Justin and I were talking about how far along the
trip we were and wondering how long we would be on the water tomorrow.
Justin thought we might have a big day but I thought we might be farther
along then he thought so from camp I hiked up to a granite dome to take a
look downstream and there it was, Salt Springs Reservoir.
The evening was warm and clear with the stars coming out and the moon
bright. I stayed awake just watching the sky for awhile until finally the
lids got heavy and the dreams took over knowing that tomorrow would bring
more kayaking and sunny weather.

Justin and I awoke to another glorious day. We decided to get an early start

of about eight a.m. so we would have no wind going across the Reservoir
which is about five miles. It took us about forty five minutes to reach our
final rapid which was a small slide ending in a six foot boof into the
Reservoir, what a way to finish a run. The paddle across the reservoir. took

us about and hour with no wind. I have a feeling that the paddle would take
a bit longer in the afternoon with a head wind.

After reaching our car we realized that we were probably the last ones to
get on Fantasy Falls this year and that having this beautiful canyon all to
ourselves was a very special treat.

Phil B.


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