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With the prospect of water in the California over New Years looking quite poor, Darin McQuoid, David Maurier and myself drove to the northern most drainage in California, the Smith River, for the edge of an Oregon storm that was planned to hit. The day we arrived we received an inch of overnight rain, luckily it began minutes after we arrived and as such our tents were set up without the added hassle of rain falling down on us. The first day while we waited for the rivers to come up we did Oregon Hole Gorge and the Siskiyou Gorge sections, familiar runs but fun none the less. That night however, we received 4.5 inches of rain and awoke to flooded creeks and enormous main stems.

With our tail between our legs we backed out of our Diamond Creek mission and went high into the Middle Smith drainage for the rarely run (but very worth while) class III-IV Knopki Bridge section. At flood, this run was the scariest class III-IV run I have done. Twice the ever present of being swept into a jog jam was nearly realized, both encounters though allowed us to squeak by. The next day, with the rain letting up we were able to head into Diamond Creek for a run that has been high on my list for 6 years now. This run is also rarely done, not because it is not fun, but because the shuttle is 2.5 hours one way and the final 6 miles puts a hurt on your car. That night we treated ourselves to a treat and spent New Year’s Eve in Crescent City in a hotel… with a nice warm spa to enjoy. The following day with flows further dropping, we went to Goose Creek of a personal first decent of all members of the group. In typical Smith River fashion, the rapids are a lot of fun but are gone all too quick. Goose has 4 rapids, 3 of which are captured in a half mile of river. The rest of the run is class II-III in a beautiful canyon. With the last of the water draining from the mountains, we headed into the Upper Smith for one last run. The Kelsey Trail section of the Upper Smith offers more great scenery but again only 0.7 miles of rapids near the start of a 6.5 mile run. With water levels dropping we decided to head home and go to work the following day. All in all though, what a great way to spend the final days of 2011 and the start of 2012. With your friends, enjoying pristine wilderness, and getting on new rivers. Hopefully 2012 will bring as much happiness as 2011 brought me as well as as many new rivers!




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