The Scenic Giant Gap

After a final low water Kimshew run we came south to the American and Yuba drainages to keep up with the spring melt and make our way to the first of the High Sierra summer runs. After a few days of late afternoon high water runs on the upper South American and the South Yuba, we all liked the idea of heading south to the Kaweah river and Dinkey creek.
It rained. It was cold. We looked at big trees.

Photo: Jono Ramsay

We had an epic day on the East Fork Kaweah with maybe the most carnage I have ever seen in one day. The days tally included a good few surprising swims and definitely some scary ones. All but a few pieces of foam and ego were recovered by days end and we were all smiles once we got to the cars and some warm clothes.
We checked levels that evening and thought driving all the way back up north to the American would be a great idea. It feels a lot farther driving back north after kayaking one day.

Evan and Justin Patt ran Chucks slide on the Middle Fork Kaweah.
Evan killin it.
Photo: Jono Ramsay

Back up to the American and to low water Royal Gorge. I think we just wanted to get it too bad and couldn't wait for flows to come up a little more to make everything more runnable. Still super fun and we can't wait to get in there again.
The site of epic carnage in the morning before we arrived.
In the morning of our planned departure for Royal Gorge we drove nearly all the way to the put-in, got scared away by the cold and rain and imminent decrease in flow and turned around. By mid afternoon just when motivation was reaching record low levels, the four of us who turned around heard that the rest of our group had continued to the put-in to find sun and decently warm temps and had put on.
Time to hustle. Within ten minutes we were back on the road rallying back to the sunny bridge over the river.
It was low, but we made it down to Heath Springs in good time to find the rest of our group roaming around looking despondent and cold. After some war cries and warm hello's, we heard the grim news of a lower Heath run gone wrong and a boat stuck in the cave below the final drop of Heath Springs gorge. Thankful the only thing lost was the boat and gear it held, we camped and prepared for a long second day and possible boat recovery.
Come morning, the boat moved a little further down the wall but still in a terrible place we all deemed unrecoverable.
The boatless party decided to hike out from Heath, but instead of hiking straight back up river, he thought it would be a good idea to hike straight up the mountain and make the hike way harder than it should have been. Yes, all this after deciding to run all of Heath by himself and with a small group. Very poor and self oriented decision making led to this, and I hope everyone involved learned a lot from the situation, especially the solo superstar.
Evan and I still wanted to run upper Heath falls but deemed the lower Heath too low and sketchy to warrant a safe run.
Upper Heath falls.
Evan pointing to the wall.
Lizzy in the awesome white granite gorge above Rattlesnake falls.
Jono ready to boof a nice little slider.
Me and Jono below the bridge.
Evan and I gave Rattlesnake falls and the nasty ledge sticking out about half way down a good look and decided to fire it up. There's a lot to think about when considering running a big drop with the kind of exposure these multi-day runs present. It's definitely more of a commitment than a park and huck and even the smallest mishap could end in an amazing amount of trouble and grief not only for the paddler, but for the whole group.
Evan and I talked about the risks of the drop and decided we both liked it and could hit the line and stay safely distant from the ledge in the falls.

The Rattler!

Evan tuckin up.
We both came out smiling and fired up! I punched myself in the nose a little with my elbow and got a little cut, but it stopped bleeding in less than a minute. Small price to pay for such a fun drop.

Downstream, we portaged.
And ran more amazing whitewater. Evan with the consistent tuck.
Every trip has a broken boat. Corey's boat exploded. We ate lunch. We paddled a long way down Generation and Giant Gaps to the take-out.
All Photos Chris Gabrielli