|Stretch:||Into Cache Creek|
|Difficulty:||Class III+ to IV (IV+ to V @ 3000 cfs)|
|Distance:||5 miles, 1 short day|
|Flows:||350 - 3000 cfs. Current Dreamflows gauge|
|Gradient:||73 fpm average|
|Take-out:||Confluence of Cache Creek|
|Shuttle:||5 miles (5 minutes) one-way|
|Season:||winter, from very recent heavy rain|
|Written:||© 2006 & 2008|
|Featured in Video Ten.|
Diane and I ran this run on my 23rd birthday along with Robi and Nick. It was a good way to spend the day. The plan that we opted for, and the only way that I am going to make the way out there again, was to bring creekers and playboats for a combined run with Cache Creek. Anytime that the Bear is running, you can bet that the Cache will be bombing too. Bear is very rocky and shallow, so playboating it is pretty much out of the question. However, Cache Creek at high water is very boring in a creeker, but very fun in a play boat as there are launch waves and massive wave trains all along the run. Things that we concluded after our run on the Bear were: More than 350 cfs would be great and a better put in, one closer to the first bridge would be great. All but one of the major rapid are between the first and second bridge, the Cowboy Camp is one long mile from the first bridge. All in all, 350 was a fine flow as long as you don’t mind losing some plastic. For the write up, I am going to go by distances from the first bridge as there was nothing before it at all.
1-25-08, I went back this past weekend and ran the creek again. This time however the creeked flashed on us and we ended up with 3,000 cfs. Although it was still managable, the creek was significantly harder. Furthermore, there were ledge holes in there that made us tremble at the sight of them. All the rapids went, but dont go in planning on a class IV experience.
I just went in now 4 years after my first trip down, we left Sacramento with the gauge reading 600 cfs. To our surprise we got there with what turned out to be 400 cfs. We ran another lap with the water falling to 350 cfs. I am not going to go back with any less than 600 cfs. Darin and I both agreed 200 cfs would clean it up and make it more worth while. I just I am just meant to run this creek very low or very high! Also, we ran just laps from the turnout just above Ursa One to the Trailhead parking lot just downstream of the bridge and Ursa Six. Made it a 1-mile run of fun!
Thanks to Darin McQuoid for his contribution of photos.
Low water photos contributed by Peter Abeles: website
High water photos contributed by David Maurier: website and Diane Gaydos.
- Ursa One (III to IV). Immediately below the bridge is a two tear rapid. We ran just
left of the island, cutting right across the lip of the first tear to run it center.
Then we opted to run the second tear center left. It looked like it went everywhere.
This rapid is easily scoutable on the right if you get out early enough…which we
didn’t. Below this rapid there is a island, on the left side is a small hole
apparently, on the right side, the river constricts through brush, then constricts
again against the wall and into a hole. Only go this way if you have NO intention
of making a minor mistake.
Ursa Two (III- to III+). Just down on the corner is the second drop. It is a simple boof to the left or right of the center rock. We picked three different lines on the right side and all went. Avoid being all the way on the right shore as there is a recirculating eddy into an undercut. This is no problem unless you hug the right shore. Below is a small hole, no problem.
Ursa Three (IV- to V). This is the hardest rapid in my mind on this run. We decided to run the big drop on the right shore. It comes below a minor ledge. The main drop had a boxed in hole at our flow, and may be a mistake to enter at high flows. The river then bends and drops over a small ledge, could stick you if you are not situated. This drop was followed by another ledge drop which seemed to stall Nick out in the center. Diane and I ran a bit further left off of the rooster tail and were totally fine.
Ursa Four (III- to IV-). This rapid is simply a river wide ledge. We ran it right of center. The lead in is shallow so pick a line that lets to boof straight. The hole at the bottom isn’t strong, but if you were to melt off of it sideways, stuck you may become.
Ursa Five (IV). At the end of a short pool, the river drops again. At our flow it looked shallow on the right, so I tried to move to the left across the lip of the drop, part way down was a flake which knocked me off balance. To my surprise the trough was smooth and blasted me through what looked from above to be a meaty hole. This leads me to conclude that the trough is extremely shallow and flipping on the flake would have been horribly painful.
- Ursa Six (III-). A ledge drop… I think. I do not know exactly what rapid they
are talking about online; there are many small ledges, all which are totally benign
at our flow.
Something in the middle of this section, not super big, but we got a photo anyways.
- Missed it (IV). Well into the class II and III- water a horizon line comes at a wide
spot on the river. Diane and I start to venture down the left side of the lead in
when we notice that we are missing a bad ass drop in the center. The drop starts
between two of the center boulder rock fence. It is rocky in the entrance, and then
chutes-up and drops, picking up speed in a hurry and launches you into a hole at the
Take out: The take-out is the confluence with Cache Creek on Highway 16, about 8 miles west of the town of Rumsey.
Put in: The put-in is either at the Cowboy Camp, on the left side of 16 about a mile south of Highway 20. Or, try to find parking as close to the first bridge (the second as you drive up the canyon) and put in there.
View Bear Creek (Cache Creek) in a larger map
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