Even the bobble-head Budda is excited about the Van Duzen.
Most of the year the Grizzly Park section of the Van Duzen is nothing more than a mellow class II float. However, when flows are above 4,000 CFS this section turns into a big water playground.
Only 3 miles long, one can do lap after lap on this section until their face turns blue. The best flows exist between 8,000-16,000 CFS. The following run was between 5,000 CFS and 8,000 CFS.
Rain in Humboldt County had been non-stop for the last week and most of the drainage ditches and sides of the roads were flooded with water. The choice of where to paddle was obvious, so Leif Anderson and I headed to the Van Duzen.
Arriving at Put-in Leif and I paddled down attempting to photograph the run as well as surf waves on the fly.
Leif Anderson takes a photo of Paul Gamache as we head through the Van Duzen Gorge.
We managed to find several good waves / holes, the best of which was located just above take-out on river left. Once at take-out we started hiking back towards put-in to try and get another run in before dark. Not more than 10 minutes had passed when a truck headed the other direction went by. I stuck out my thumb jokingly attempting to hitch a ride. To our amazement the driver (a local school teacher) flipped around, picked us up, and drove us back to put-in.
Leif Anderson fired up about the ride.
Leif Anderson deep in the Van Duzen Gorge - Photo: Paul Gamache
Leif Anderson completing a kickflip - Photo: Paul Gamache
The second time down we knew where most of the good waves were and tried to spend most of our time at these spots.
A "catch on the fly" wave. - Photo: Paul Gamache
Just as we arrived at the final and best surf hole, we spotted Christian driving along the 36. While Leif continued surfing Christian and I went for another lap through the Duzen Gorge.
Leif Anderson digs in for a loop at the best spot on the run. Photo: Paul Gamache
Take-out: The reason I mention take-out first is because it’s easier to explain how to find put-in from the take-out location. From Hwy 101 near Fortuna take Hwy 36 West. Drive through the town of Hydesville and Carlotta continue along Hwy 36 for about 10 miles until you see a boat ramp leading down to the river.
A view of take-out and the swollen river bank.
Put-in: From Take-out drive up river about 3 miles and will see a turn-out just before a sharp right hand turn. Park here and hike 25 yards down to the river.