Busy loading boats at the confluence of the NF Kings and Dinkey Creek we met up with Darin McQuoid and Stookesberry as they were scheming a plan to pull a sneak on the Grand Canyon. Hardly convinced that it was going to be good, but still eager to see what was in there and put all the myths to rest, I was torn between all the great paddling options. West Cherry and North Kings or the GC? It was a tough call, but with shuttle arranged and a plan in place, I decided to join the boys on the GC.
Not convinced, Evan and the Southern boys went the other way and hit up West Cherry and the put-in slide. All five in the group ran it with probably one of the biggest huckfest showings ever. Shows what a fired up crew can do.
Dealing with the logistics of the Grand Canyon is tricky to say the least. Not sure of the legality of what we were trying to do and with both a very high profile put-in and take-out, we made every attempt to be covert on all fronts and avoid any unnecessary contact. Throughout the trip we did our best to stay off the popular hiking trail, though it did provide the easiest and fastest portaging, of which there was very much. In the end we decided that portaging fast on the trail and getting back on the water was the best way to avoid contact. We only saw a couple hikers and they didn't seem to think anything of what we were doing, other than wondering how we had survived all the massive falls.
Ben scouting a rapid with typical scenery.
Scouting the Muir Gorge. The sieve rapid was looking dubious as ever, so we went for the dome portage in the heat. It was great.
The rumors of the amount of portaging are indeed true, as we found ourselves spending much of our time on the banks walking massive cataracts or slightly less massive rapids.
It is in there if you really want to get it though.
What seemed high turned out to be almost the perfect water level for a quick and fun trip. A little less water and the in-between would slow down and not be fun, but the bigger drops would probably become slightly more manageable.
After the Grand Canyon we continued on down through the Poopenah section of river to complete the sneak. We had a backup plan of exiting Yosemite if Poopenah didn't have the right water level, but a break of dawn level check by Ben got us on the water soon after 6 in the morning and far from the eyes of any possible ranger sighting.
As it turns out, Poopenah is a fitting name for this section of river. It looked like an amazing gorge from the road and we had heard tales of big drops in the committing canyon so we were surprised to find many boulder choked slot drops formed by massive slabs of granite that had separated from high on the canyon walls. There were some redeeming rapids and incredible scenery, but much of the day was spent groveling about chunky rapids and slow moving water.