As many of you may be aware of, California has been in a severe drought the last 4 years. Luckily, we have a large group of dedicated, river loving, American Whitewater volunteers that have been working very hard to get California rivers annual recreational releases! The South Feather was one of those fortunate rivers where the South Fork Water and Power Agency was nice enough to work with AW and give us 3 straight weeks of releases every fall!!
I was helping at Feather Fest this year, (the west coast version of Gauley Fest) when Ben Stookesberry offered to take me down it for my first time…. and when Ben Stookesberry asks you to go boating you just go! Unfortunately, the first two and a half weeks it was flowing, I had a slalom training camp with the US coach on the American River, so the window for me was tight! Luckily, in between training and being sick, I was able to get a lap in on the last day of the release!!!
After taking a wrong turn onto a 29 mile dirt mountain road, (still got us to the right place just took a bit longer) I met up with Ben at the put in, set shuttle, and we were ready to go!! The hike down was honestly the scariest part, (I thought I was going to slip and fall all the way down to the river) By the time I got to the bottom, I could barely walk. After gearing up and doing a quick warm up, we hit the water. The first three drops were the hardest, the first one being an epic 10 foot boof where you had to drive up on a massive pillow to clear the hole at the bottom! The next rapid was a tight slot with a lot rocks to a boof right below it. Finally, after another little boof over a sticky hole it was time to huck the 30 footer. All the beta on this drop said that the landing was shallow so it was usually portaged. I watched Ben run it from the shore and was feeling good so I ran back up, hopped in my boat and fired it up! I lined up in the slot above and took a couple strokes to the lip and landed perfectly! Once I was finished with the 30 footer, we had about 5 miles of continuous class 4-5 in a gorgeous canyon, with stunning fall colors, side creeks, plus amazing whitewater! The best part was totally the 45 minute straight up hill hike out of the canyon though. :P Huge thanks to Ben for the awesome lead down!
Here is a quick link to Darin MCQuid’s write up wit video and photos-