Yeah Dave! Cali was great.
The HP crew arrived in Cali to find rising rivers and big ass holes that made us tuck our tails between our legs and shoulder our boats. Of course, when we would do this, a crew of Cali locals would route through and make it look easy.
We met a big crew of paddlers from Sacramento at the Paulie / N. Yuba confluence. They gave us cold beers and let us borrow a truck to run shuttle. Awesome, thanks guys! The cali boys also shared beta that 49 to bridgeport would be ramping up to 2000 cfs and that we should probably reconsider running, seeing as we were working through the big water cali hole pussy issues.
Mill creek was a highlight of the trip. We put on with a nice medium/low flow and routed miles of continuous class IV/V in a spectacular canyon. Waterfalls and side creeks cascaded into the main channel one after another. Clear water dripping from moss covered overhanging cliffs rained showers down into the river. Upper Mill had just about the steepest most continuous water we could comfortably boat scout and was fantastic quality. We had two nights of great self support camping. With no hike in and minimal portages we brought plenty of gear to have a great camp set up. When we put on, the river was in the 500-600 cfs range (med/low) and was predicted to rise to 850 or so with a rain system front coming through. It rained hard on the second night of the trip, and after a night of hunkering down, we awoke to find a muddy fast flowing river that had risen a foot to a foot and a half overnight. The normal class III/IV paddle out turned into high water creeking with great beefy drops with a couple of juicy IV/V drops to get our hearts pumping. There were some amazing single track lava tube hallways where the river would constrict down to 8-10 ft wide. We rode out the mill creek express on the peak from the rain at about 1500 cfs... almost triple the flow we put on. An amazing run!
After getting back to civilization and setting up base camp at uncle steve's, we guzzled beers, grilled steaks, checked gauges and looked to continue plan B as the high water spike had hit all the runs in the area. A plan was hatched to run deer creek over the next two days. Half of the crew had done this run as a 3 day overnighter a couple years ago, and we knew we could crank it out in 2 days with a 6 mile lower put in and longer days. Deer creek is mill creeks twin sister creek. Both flow parallel in the western slope of the sierras and cut through volcanic rock formations on the flank of the Mt. Lassen (dormant volcano). Both deer and mill creek feature 40+ miles of class IV/V wilderness boating in incredible pristine and unique environments. Running deer and mill together was great. Base camp is at steve's place which is a stones throw from mill creeks takeout. The deer creek takeout is 15 minutes away. Over 5 days we did two self support runs, 4 nights on the river, and had a minimal shuttle with a shuttle driver. It doesn't get much better than that!
Dave busted up two stump stoves "as seen on mountainbuzz"... These were awesome! Camp fire coming out of a log that had holes drilled in it is brilliant. The whole 12-15 diameter log burns from the inside out through the bore holes allowing for some great after dinner/beer camp fire tricks... you can pick it up and move it around. Warning, you need at least some fire handling experience, or 4 beers to be ready to move a burning stump around.
Shuttle Steve was a really hospitable and friendly guy. We camped in his yard and he helped us run shuttle on deer and mill. If you do these runs, hooking up with Steve is a great idea.
My new crazy creek camp chair worked great on the multiday. Got some good beta off the buzz on camp chairs... thanks guys! Great to have back support. I saw guys sitting on crazy creek chairs on upside down kayaks on one of the bomb flow videos, and thought it was a great idea. We set up the jackson villain couch with the crazy creek chair, and it was great to give your back a rest on a multiday.
I got a couple of fierce poundings in Cali boulder mank that left me swimming, took off chunks of knucle skin, and gave me a mank pounding I thought only the front range could deliver. Beware of the cali boulder mank.
We saw tons of wildlife too... bear, bald eagles, otters, turtles, snakes, salamanders, huge snails and slugs, and a rare sighting of the legendary hairy backed duragotang.