Thursday, June 27, 2013

Devil's Canyon of the Middle Feather

Devil's Canyon of the Middle Feather is a three to four day self-support trip in Northern California that has been high on my list for about five years. This year Drew & I finally got a window of opportunity over spring break where we had the time off, the weather was looking good, and the level was just about perfect!

We packed up in Hood River, met up with Andy McMurray & Rob Bart, and headed south to pick up Michael Freeman & Nate Merrill in California. We put on the river pretty late in the afternoon the next day, but there was plenty of water and we made it through the first gorge with just enough daylight to find a nice beach and set up camp for the night. 

 The first day was so beautiful, and over the next couple days the gorges just kept getting more steep and scenic. The whitewater was amazing pool drop rapids through classic California granite boulder gardens. From what I'd heard about Devil's Canyon, I was expecting more of a class IV read and run kind of trip. Turns out with a good flow there's actually quite a bit of class V mixed in there, and portaging is not always and option! The good news is that the difficulty builds throughout the trip so you have some time to warm up before the most difficult gorge on day three. 

 The entrance to Franklin Canyon

 Scouting the falls

 McMurray running Franklin Falls

 Rob lining up

 Days two and three were really long, but we just took our time, scouted, set safety for each other, and portaged some of the big ones. It was so exciting to be able to experience such an amazing place. There were a number of great beach camps between the gorge sections and after paddling a loaded boat all day I slept like a rock. 

Typical Middle Feather boogie water

Typical Andy


 Camp #2 at Hartman Bar

Pacific Crest Trail footbridge at Hartman Bar


 black bear!

I can see why so many paddlers consider Devil's Canyon to be one of their favorite runs. It is unbelievable how many great rapids are packed into those 32.7 miles of river. I'm so excited that this was the year I finally got to check it out. I can't think of a better way to kick off the 2013 boating season. I think it's going to be a really good year!