Rolf and I did the hike in/hike out option on upper NSV. The gate to the hike in was closed so it added about 20 minutes to that hike.
The river got hammered in the floods. Completely new and not for the better. Gravel bars and eroded banks make up the first part of the run. We portaged 2 trees, both fully blocking the river and obvious (snuck past many others). There is a new waterfall we ran far left. Nothing special. Sharp rock slide. 6' high in total.
This drop is no longer on the river.
American Whitewater - Undercut Rapid
The entrance to the Cali section was recognizable due to an increase in gradient and that was about it. Then surprisingly it was familiar again, though the biggest drop in the section that was run left is now different and we ran it on the left side of the right channel.
The big left eddy is still there at the base of the drop. The next section that led to the first bridge, your sign to portage the junk rapid below, is now mostly gone. This section is remarkably clean and similar.
The section below the bridge lost its class. Its still juicy, but not for the better. I looked at the picture of it on AW and it doesn't look like this at all. Much dirtier.
American Whitewater - California Section
The final rapid after the second bridge (also gone) is mostly the same and runnable via the far right line due to wood in the main channel which would otherwise go.
You have about 100 yards until you find trees blocking the river. Starts out mellow and gets worse. The third log clump is about where the hike out trail is and the hike out spot looks the same if the trees magically disappeared and you happened to float by.
I would say paddling out would be a tough option. I would expect many more trees to block your path. We spoke to some neighbors who live near the reservoir and they told us the ranger lives on the reservoir and can see it from his window so a paddle out would be tough until the Button Rock reservoir/preserve re-opens in 2015. I'd love to know what happened to the slot drop and the ledge hole below. I probably won't be back this year to find out.
Level wise we had preceding days of low 70s then 60's and it was 53 degrees and overcast/sprinkling when we put in. Clear creek at Golden was at 1500 ish cfs. This gave us about 300 cfs in the river which was perfect. They key to the good flow was really a giant snow pack with preceding hot days, then cooling, then cold. Also considering this run typically reaches 250cfs 1 day in a sub 100% snow pack year it seemed to reasonable to this if everything is running high and it gets cold, it would be in.
Hope someone finds this helpful. I wouldn't say tear this run out of the guide book, but this used to be my favorite front range run due to its remoteness, beauty, no blast rock, no road and it was kind of a mission. It lost a lot of its beauty. I hope nature finds a way to bring it back to what it was, even if it is for the next generation of kayakers.