Sunday, February 4, 2007

Middle Fork American (Tunnel Chute)

Paul Gamache in the tunnel below Tunnel Chute Rapid - Photo: Ben Wartburg

After a day of paddling the South Fork the crew headed back to Alex Wolfgram’s parents house (currently under construction) in the town of Foresthill. That night, Alex tested the flammability of his parent’s new house.

Bonfire at Alex's House - Photo: Paul Gamache

The next morning we enjoyed views of the Middle Fork American and the choice of where to paddle the next day was obvious.

View of the Middle Fork American - Photo: Paul Gamache

Arriving at Put-in around 9:30am there was a noticeable release of flow from the dam. Once Ben Wartburg arrived we were ready to head down the Middle Fork. The first couple of miles are fun class III’s with not much of note.

Once at Tunnel Chute we got out to take pictures. The Tunnel Chute rapid is a pretty amazing sight. The rapid is more or less a sliding class IV into a drop with a hole. Once through the rapid the river is diverted into a giant tunnel that was blasted through the mountain.
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Ben Wartburg Tunnel Chute Rapid - Photo: Paul Gamache

We all ran the main chute down the middle. Unfortunately, Christian flipped right above the final drop and proceeded to run the remainder of the rapid upside-down. He said he hit his head on a couple rocks and pulled his skirt. His swim was uneventful and got back in his boat just on the other side of the tunnel.
Christian testing the water depth below Tunnel Chute - Photo: Ben Wartburg

After Tunnel Chute, rapids are mostly class III for 3 miles

Christian in the midst of Kanaka Falls - Photo: Paul Gamache

...and then it’s 9 miles of flat-water.

Somewhere near the middle of the flat-water we pulled over at a structure on river right. Just upriver of this structure exists an amazing 100yard side hike along a creek.

We continued on our way since this section is scheduled dam release and didn't want to have the water drop out on us. Unfortunately, we must have paddled too fast since we arrived at the rapid above Ruck-A-Chucky we realized we had beaten the water to this point.

No rebar in sight. Ruck-A-Chucky at low water. Photo: Ben Wartburg

The remainder of the run was low water class III-IV.

Christian paying dues. Photo: Paul Gamache

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