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Good Times with the Team on the Upper NF San Joaquin, CA - David Farkas

 
Good Times with the Team on the Upper NF San Joaquin, CA - David Farkas
Good Times with the Team on the Upper NF San Joaquin, CA - David Farkas
Good Times with the Team on the Upper NF San Joaquin, CA - David Farkas
Good Times with the Team on the Upper NF San Joaquin, CA - David Farkas
Good Times with the Team on the Upper NF San Joaquin, CA - David Farkas
Good Times with the Team on the Upper NF San Joaquin, CA - David Farkas
Good Times with the Team on the Upper NF San Joaquin, CA - David Farkas
 
August 21, 2013 -  David Farkas    
 

I had been working teaching kayaking and was keen to get out with the crew and get on something challenging.  After staying a few extra days to work, I knew my time off was limited. The usual 7 days off between work stints had quickly turned to 4.  It’s a beautiful world when you can get online, find your mates, and start planning something.  A few emails later…I was quickly heading out of the California Salmon River drainage driving south 14hrs, to meet up with Josh Nielson, Tyler Fox, and Adrienne Kiernan.  Along with Adrienne was a young Aussie named Riley Best, and Josh and Tyler had brought along Jamie Garrod: A great young paddler from NZ.  We had the Upper North Fork of the San Joaquin in mind.  A run that had only seen two previous descents and that had pictures of steep drops including a 60footer.  

I drove all day and night trying to get to Oakhurst before it had gotten too late.  I completely underestimated the time it would take to get there, and after getting lost on single lane partially paved road in the mountains east of Oakhurst, I rolled into our camp at 3am exhausted, jittery, and ready for bed.  Needless to say...it wasn’t easy finding the team.

We awoke to cold temps and scattered skies.  It had gotten quite cold during the night and it also rained.  No one slept well and we were pretty rugged getting things going.  The other issue was our objective.  With no gauge, the Upper NF SJ was a crap shoot.  With a 12 mile hike in, and a 2 mile 3000ft hike out, we debated on the levels questioning whether it was worthwhile to go in or not.  I only had 4 days off and I wanted to maximize the time.  Upper Cherry was too high, Postpile was too high…pretty much everything around us was too high.  This led us to believe that the run would have water in it.  So after a long breakfast, we decided to hike in and check it out.  If it were too high, we’d wait as long as we could.  If we couldn’t paddle it, the team would leave their gear and help hike me out coming back in when things dropped in.  

With the plan set, we began packing around noon!!!!! Way too late but oh well.  During the pack in the parking lot, Josh broke out a 36 rack of Tecates and we all celebrated by drinking a beer.  Then we had another...then another.  By no time, we had crushed the 36 rack between the 6 of us, packed and headed out.  Not good decision making in the slightest!  Our initial enthusiasm and beer buzz disappeared and we were relegated to a team of haggard old souls lugging kayaks on our backs.  We totally underestimated the hike in and after a grueling 9 miles or so, we stopped at the top of a mesa and called her quits.  It was late and we just couldn’t go any further.  We found a good place to camp amidst the snow, got a fire going, ate dinner and passed out.  The morning saw us pumped and keen to get down to the river and get going. A relatively quick hike had us at put in.  There was a fun set of drops at the put in including a 20 footer, and then the run began.  I could go on about how great it was, how clean the drops are, and how just about everything is runnable…but I won’t.  The Upper NFSJ is one of the best high Sierra runs I’ve done.  It has all the qualities you would want in expeditionary kayaking…and you have to work hard to earn it.  We had a perfect flow and the team was exceptional.  Check out the pics and video and I hope you get a chance to paddle it.

 
 
 

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