Tuesday, March 16, 2010

East Fork Trinity: Mumbo Cr. to Lake

We paddled this run on April 24, 2009 when the Trinity was flowing 1,000 cfs above Coffee cr.  We all felt it was the perfect level for class IV boaters yet had some serious potential for big water play at higher flows (Lochsa style).  This run can also be rafted (experts only).   Right off the bat the river drops through a steeper section of gradient, followed by a very fun bedrock drop.  After this it backs off for awhile, though it maintains a constant gradient throughout (in upper Trinity fashion) beautiful cedars line the banks.

Occasional larger drops are peppered throughout the run.  There are two memorable drops in this middle section, one that funnels into a large hole, and another steep rock garden.

Towards the end of the run is a 1/4 mile gorge gorge, signaled by an old dam.  This is the best part of the run, and feels like the Feather River drainage with beautiful granite and a mini-gorge-chunk style.  It was class IV+ at our flows, but develops into class V material at high water.  The best scout and portage seemed to be on the right, though an eddy exists on the left after the Dam Rapid.

  The Crux is next, which split around a huge rock at our flow.  The right was a boily, backed up hole, with the left side offering a perfect boof banking off of a pillow.  Lining a raft through here wouldn't be an option at flows much higher than ours.

  Two more quick drops brings you out of the gorge.  It would be wise to scout this entire gorge before dropping in.

After the gorge class III-IV rapids continue all the way to take out including one very fun low-angle bedrock slide.

This run is worth doing and deserves some attention.  Mumbo Creek and some of the other Tributaries offer additional paddling opportunities making this a worthwhile place to spend a weekend in springtime.  Rumor has it that a shuttle route exists on the East side of the river, significantly shorter than driving over Ramshorn Rd.  This misses the first rapids, but still puts you above the best stuff.  There is also excellent camping at take-out, just downstream from the bridge where the East Fork meets Trinity Lake.  2010 should be an excellent year as Mumbo Basin has received ample amounts of snow (42.5 inches snow-water content as of March 16).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

South Trinity: Big Slide to Low Water Bridge

The South Trinity is probably one of the last runs on anybody's radar: a long shuttle to the middle of nowhere dims the motivation levels of interested paddlers.  After 10 years of living in Humboldt, I finally made it on this high-quality stretch of river with good friends Orion "O-Face " Meredith and Paul "Knoxville" Gamache.  This trip was made possible by two factors: 1) Orion's Dad was willing to drive us a shuttle and 2) Construction on Hyampom Road means that the Corral Bottom Road is being plowed this winter (2009-10; not usually plowed), shortening the shuttle drive immensely.  That morning Orion had to take the GWPE and as such we left Arcata at 10:00 A.M.  We met Orion's Dad in Willow Creek, and drove our vehicle to the low-water bridge, eventually hitting the 299 at noon, heading east.  2 1/2 hours of driving brought us to put-in at Big-Slide Campground.

We eventually put on the water at 2:40 in the afternoon, a bit late for the 17 mile section, but we were counting on perfect flows (2,000 cfs @ Hyampom) to carry us along through the canyon.  Big Slide, one of the four major rapids, is right at put-in.  This is a long 3-part rapid that drops a significant amount of gradient and offers multiple routes.  We found the top part to be the sketchiest, a big rock jumble.  You immediately begin to notice how many big rocks are in this river while scouting/portaging.  Below Big Slide, the river continues to drop through smaller rapids before arriving at Big Undercut (EntrapmentFalls).
At our Flow this was definitely the scariest rapid; I looked at it for 5 seconds before portaging. The first two drops had massive holes and wicked currents looked like making the final move above the big undercut would be a tough go.  Several of the rocks on either bank looked dubious as well as a couple obvious sieves.  We were running late and opted for the quick portage on river left.  It wasn't bad with our kayaks, but a raft would be more difficult for sure as you walk over and around many large boulders.  We got back in and several more fun rapids continued.  

In fact, I had expectations of this run being only 3 or 4 rapids, but actually there are many fun and exciting drops laced throughout the entire section, with several playspots too--maybe next time I'll bring the playboat and get an earlier start?  However, when you approach the obvious powerlines and a class 2 rapid with a disappearing horizon line, look for an eddy on river right.  Powerline Falls is ahead.  We eddied on the left and were able to get closer to the drop, but the scout and portage are marginal.  Orion and I took different lines on the left.  Someday I'll get that picture from Paul.

The River did back off for awhile, until we passed the confluence of Grouse Creek on the left, which was carrying a substantial amount of water.  The next drop "Grouse Hole" comes after a left hand bend, though not a falls, it had a large hole at the bottom we all punched through inadvertently.  Take the time to scout all the way down to this hole.  Below Grouse Creek the river drops into a beautiful canyon that continues all the way to Surprise Creek: the 3 Bears put-in.  My memory of this section is fuzzy as we were paddling quite hard.  We arrived at Low Water Bridge at 5:45, 3 hours and 17 miles later.  

This Run would be an excellent 2-day in early spring (March, April).  Although it would definitely maintain a great character at lower flows, I imagine this would limit the cleanliness and playspot density that we encountered at 2,000 cfs.  It is probably good down to 1,000 or less, though you should expect more sieve and pin hazards at lower flows.  Despite the major drops (which can be portaged relatively easily) the run has more of a class III-IV character, and should be on more class IV boaters' to do list.