South Fork of the Yuba (Jolly Boys)
|Stretch:||Jolly Boys Mine to Golden Quartz Picnic Area|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to IV+|
|Flows:||500?-2,000 cfs (estimated upstream at Lang’s Crossing) Current Dreamflows gauge|
|Put-in:||Jolly Boys Mine|
|Take-out:||Golden Quartz Picnic Area|
|Shuttle:||~2.5 miles 4 wheel drive, high clearance required|
|Season:||Dam release rarely or winter during heavy rain or spring due to Spaulding spilling|
After trying to get on this all winter, the opportunity came this spring with the announcement from American Whitewater that there would be a flow study on the South Yuba and Canyon Creek. Now to be honest, the original flow plan wouldn’t have provided enough water to boat this stretch, but due to an unseasonal storm that dumped 6 inches of rain in May, Lake Spaulding began to spill and more than an adequate amount of water came down this stretch (1,200 cfs).
The stretch was great fun. It consisted of 5 or 6 standout rapids. Two rapids early on, two in the middle, and at least one near the end. The draw back to this run is that for starters you need a 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. A Tacoma will the 4-wheel drive set-up will barely make it. A Outback or highlander don’t stand a chance. The second draw back is to the rarity that it has water. The downriver Golden Quartz section is much more likely to be boatable thanks to the addition of Canyon Creek. However, if you get the chance to do this run it is very worth while. The put-in alone is awe inspiring. The sections in between the big rapids move quickly and are never harder than class III. If you see something that is bigger, it is in fact one of the big drops.
The one warning I have is that as you drive the shuttle keep an eye out the window at the river. When you come to the first dramatic gorge and rapids, it would be worthwhile to work your way to where you can see the river clearer. Scout the bottom hole. Once you have run the top rapid you are pretty committed to running the hole. It is a big one, believe me, or if you don’t believe me, believe Diane… or Mike…
One final thing, we had a lady mention to us that you are not allowed to park at the mine and that they will tow you. I however doubt a tow truck can get in there… but anyways, be respectful and don’t block the road. Also, some people put in half way up at the broken car. I believe this misses several of the good rapids, but am not positive, I would have to go back and pay better attention. The worst of the road is just after the car.
Also another note, some people call this and Golden Quartz “The Arctic Mine run of the South Fork of the Yuba.” This makes no sense to me, the road “Arctic Mine” goes up Canyon Creek. Arctic Mine itself is up Canyon Creek. Also, the run should be split into two since due to water differences and road quality the lower will often be run by itself, with this upper run only being considered an addition to the lower run.
Also, a big thanks to Steve Schimtt for contributing photos.
- Entrance Junk (III+). A junky rapid to warm up on, we went down the left of it.
Boof (IV). A sweet boof, reminded me of the center boof of Stair Case on The North Fork of the American
Exit (III). A nice ramp into a hole and some boogie.
- Fingers (IV+). Maybe this rapid is easier with some accurate beta. We were told, go right of the fingers and then cut center. This of course led us into several very meaty holes. Afterwards the lead realized, I think we all cut to early.
Ledge (IV+). Remember the telephone game in elementary school? As Stefon pulls out telling Josh big hole, go left of center, Josh relays to me and I hear big hole. As I drop in right of center I am worked and flush out towards the under cut. Next Mike follows suite, rolls up and gets away from the undercut. Last and I am sure regrettably so, Diane gets to head on down and goes right and gets worked before flushing into the undercut. Luckily we were all up right before the undercut otherwise a swim would follow. We all regretted bombing into it as we did and in hindsight would have welcomed a safety rope for the hole as well as the undercut.
- Right then Left (IV). Man, what a rocky piece of shit. We went right and then worked left, dodging rocks and holes with the goal in mind to avoid the hole on the bottom right.
Some nice in between stuff
Take-out: From Highway 49 in Grass Valley, take Highway 20 towards Truckee. After 16 miles, turn left on Washington Road and follow 6 miles to the town of Washington. Cross the river and continue right on Maybert Road. Follow 4 miles to Canyon Creek continue another half mile to Golden Quartz Picnic Area. This will require a Subaru or comparable. You could also take out just upstream of Canyon Creek at the small turnout. However, if there is enough water for this run, there is no reason not to continue downriver to Washington.
Put-in: High clearance 4-wheel drive required. Drive past Golden Quartz Picnic Area, and go right at the no trespassing signs (obviously the main road). Climb the short steep section for 100-200 feet and take the sharp right turn on the small narrow dirt road. Follow this upriver until you see the mine on the right. You will know you are there by the big white gate and structure on your right.
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