Mokelumne River (Electra)
|Stretch:||Electra Powerhouse to Highway 49 Bridge|
|Flows:||500-?000 cfs. Current Dreamflows (est) gauge|
|Put-in:||Electra Day Use Area|
|Take-out:||Highway 49 Bridge|
|Season:||Dam release, year round|
I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t gotten out to this run earlier, it is all of 40 minutes from my place, and all my friends go there each year for the slalom races. I guess I just don’t make it out onto class II very often these days. But now, 3 of my friends from college are getting into kayaking which opens the door for me to use them as an excuse to document some of the class II runs around the area. And already the “excuse” is working. As I pull up to the Mokelumne a friend who was there for the slalom races starts laughing at me for showing up to boat class II, after explaining to him that I am simply taking my novice friends down a new stretch of river (so they don’t get bored on C to G), he says “ah” with an understanding of how good of a guy I am, that I would give up one of my days off work to selflessly take some friends down an novice stretch of water… thank you guys, excuse works.
So as I mentioned, the weekend we went out there was the one that the Mokelumne slalom races were held. So to our surprise as well drive up the river we see a paltry 150 cfs. Little did we know that the Friday before the races they suppress the flow in order to set up the gates. So after some chatting, we headed back to Jackson to get some food, after another 2 hours of waiting, the flow finally turned on and we were treated to 750 cfs. After getting off the river, we were invited to go the slalom race bbq potluck, after several drinks we decided that we would return the following day to try our luck at the slalom gates. Next year I will mark my calendar of the race weekend and try my luck in the actual races, it was surprisingly fun and yet frustrating. On the bright side, at least when I missed a gate the consequences did not end up with me in one of my trade-mark beat downs that my friends so enjoy.
One final note, although I can’t imagine that the rapids actually become class III-IV with higher water (like 1,500-3,000) like some sources state I can imagine that the banks are high into the trees and brush making swims difficult. So I would suggest that if you are going to be heading down this stretch with more than a summer release of 800 that you have a combat roll. Also, unless you just want to do laps on this stretch, I would recommend continuing down to Middle Bar, see the write up for details. The stretch has one rapid that is a little harder (II+ @ 800 cfs) but is pretty and more secluded. It also makes the outing 2 miles longer.
One additional note, I don't have a write-up for it, but there is a section upriver of Electra, from Ponderosa down that runs during peak snowmelt that is supposedly really quality class III. So if you are in the area in Spring or early Summer, make sure you see if the water is coming down from above the powerhouse.
- The first mile provides a nice warm up with a few easy class I rapids. Once you see the lower day use area and beach come into site, you know the first class II- rapid is coming up.
- Race Course (II-). If I had to guess, I would guess that this is the drop called goal post for the wrap rocks at the bottom. This is also where the Moklumne Slalom race was set up, hence the name I am giving it. Anyways, the rapid consists of a ramp with a few rocks to avoid poking up in the middle. Try to stay out of the brush on either side.
The Chute (II). After a long straight away, the river bends left at a dramatic horizon line. The left side was a nice straightforward ramp with some nice waves while the right side was a rockier mess. It should be possible to scout on the right if so inclined.
- S-Turn (II+). The next rapid of note is marked by a long s-turn dropping steeply into a few holes. The turn left is straight forward, but the turn right drops into a few bigger waves, aim straight and carry some speed.
Bridge Post (II-). Just downstream of S-Turn, you will see some old bridge pillars, the rapid below here is a nice wave train to take straight down the middle.
At the end of a very picturesque straight away you will see the highway 49 bridge marking the takeout. For the past few years it has become legal to boat the stretch of river below the 49 bridge to Middle Bar Bridge. See that write-up for the details.
Take-out: There is a new, BLM (first legal) takeout for the Electra Run/put-in for the Middle Bar run, in Calaveras County river left just west of the Highway 49 bridge. It's called the Big Bar river access point. Paved parking, pit toilet, just upstream of the Devil's Toilet Bowl rapid.
Put-in: About 100 feet north on 49 from the bridge, you will see Electra Road. Take this up 3 or so mile until you get to the nice parking area with restrooms at the Electra day use. A superb beach awaits for you to put in on.