Sunday, February 18, 2007

Middle Fork (Black Butte to Dos Rios)

Disclaimer: Somehow in my infinite wisdom I managed to delete all photos of this section from my camera and computer.
Guess you’ll just have to paddle it yourself…

The Middle Fork of the Eel from Black Butte to Dos Rios is 27 miles of absolute flatwater and 5 miles of class III-IV. Unable to convince anyone else to paddle this section with me, I set out solo. Arriving at Dos Rios around 10:30am I began unloading my gear. Within minutes a truck drove by and picked me up with my boat and headed to the edge of the town of Covelo. This first ride was provided by the assistant pastor for the Church in Covelo. In another 5-10 minutes another truck picked me up with my boat and drove me the rest of the way to the Black Butte Guard Station. The driver told me all about how a local had shot up his car with a shotgun and how worthless the police were in the area. Once at Black Butte I hiked down to the river and along the way I found $40 in the middle of the road, so far this run was going pretty well...
The flatwater on this run seems to go forever. I remember one gorge that was barley class III then another near the end of the run that was IV-. Coal Mine Falls marks the entrance to the last gorge and the rapids that follow are pretty entertaining.
In total the run took me 4 hours from put-in to take-out with just 1,200 CFS, this was managed by no breaks, no scouts, and no portages. If I were to do this run again it would be at much higher water or with a raft equiped with a keg.


Put-in: To reach Put-in take the 162 exit just north of Willits along Hwy 101. Drive along this road just short of forever. Once you reach the town of Covelo follow the signs for Hwy 162. Near the end of town you'll make a right to stay on 162 aka Mendocino Pass Road. Drive another 8-10 miles until you cross a bridge. Park at the market there and hike just upriver of the bridge for a trail down to the river.

Take-out: Drive back along 162 through Covelo and back towards Hwy 101. Near the town of Dos Rios you will cross a bridge. Park just upriver (MF Eel side) of the bridge. Best way to go is to meet at take-out. Load up into one vehicle and drive to put-in.

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