Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Kind of Biathlon - Rafting the Yuba / Mnt Biking Downieville

The institute of marriage has strayed far from the traditions which once defined it. Thus most aspects of weddings have also become non standard. Me, being very traditional, had my bachelor party in Las Vegas. However some of our good local friends opted to have a joint bachelor/batchelorette party. Well I think that it started as a batchelorette party, but it sounded so cool that all the boys wanted in as well. So this last weekend we traveled down to Downieville to raft the North Fork of the Yuba and to ride the Downieville Downhill.

Tucked aways in Sierra County lies the small town of Downieville. Established in 1849, it was originally called "Forks", due to the fact the town sits at the confluence of the Yuba and the Downie River. But the town was soon renamed after William Downie.

We stayed in Tahoe Friday night was planning on leaving for our trip in the morning. I was extremely apprehensive. It had been raining all week, very odd for spring, and the temps had dropped dramatically that day. The section of the river we were going to raft include a class five rapid name "Maytag" which I assume is for the washing machine action it resembles. Since Downieville is located about 3000feet in elevation, the temps were moderate. The river was also running very low. Snow melt, from the Sierra Buttes, rather than rain run off feeds the river, and our early thaw this year, made for a rather dry river by this weekend.

With the crew decked out in wet/dry suits, and various foul weather gear we meet at the put in. Goodyear bar is the put in location, however the actual put in was 1/8 to 1/4 mile north of the Goodyear bar turn off. We had three boats rigged, including the girls boat, which had an oar frame in the back.

The rapids are mostly class two and three, with a fourth class thrown in occasionally. Soon after lunch we eddied out to examine the crux of the river: Maytag. The pucker factor was high as we examined the giant hole which we were to drop into. With the river flow being low, the result was both good and bad. The good was the the large recirculating pool at the bottom was not so great. The bad was the a large rock was then exposed at the bottom of the hole, which was a potential hazard.

All three boats hit the rapid with various degrees of cleanliness. However the river gods seem to shine upon us for none of the poor lines had negative results.

Though we hit the largest rapid of the trip we were not out of the woods yet. On some class three or two rapid we seemed to have wrapped our boat on a rock/tree. This in fact provided the most excitement of the trip. After freeing the boat, we eventually make it to Indian Valley Campground. This is the take out. From the river your only clues that this is the location is by the presence of a the campsite. It is not easy to spot.

That night we camped at Indian Valley campground, and the next day we went and hit the Downieville Downhill. But I will save that story for another day.

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