South Fork of the Yuba (Spaulding)
|Stretch:||Cisco Grove to Lake Spaulding|
|Difficulty:||Class IV+ to V+|
|Distance:||5.6 miles + 2 miles on the lake|
|Flows:||400-1,000 cfs. Current Dreamflows gauge|
|Put-in:||Cisco Grove Park|
|Take-out:||Lake Spaulding Boat Ramp|
|Shuttle:||10 miles (10 minutes one way)|
|Season:||Spring and early Summer from snowmelt|
|Featured in Video Twenty-Seven|
I wish I could tell you that we were planning all along to take-off at East Meets West. I also wish I could tell you that we ran more rapids then we walked. But I would be lying. I have to say, this run was a little of a disappointment to me. I was hoping for a class IV to V- experience but instead we were greeted with a class III run with several very large class V to V+ rapids. There were probably only 4 class IV drops between put in East Meets West. The portages were not tough, but the nature of the river necessitated many scouts to find a line over steep drops. All of this was more than we signed up for and soon fatigue took over. Lucky for us, the road is never more than 100 yards away from the river up to East Meets West and for some extra luck, there were a pair of hikers walking up to their car as we decided to stop boating who gave us a ride back to the put-in car. After relaying this failure to a few friends I found that this is actually a common take-out. After East Meets West there are two more portages (one is nearly mandatory) and only a few more rapids. I think we choose wisely. I am tired just thinking about the scouts and portages.
Also, it should be noted, Stanley and Holbek have the first mile and a half of this run listed as part of the summit run above. However, in that mile and a half are two large rapids that a person on pushing it on Summit run would most likely walk. Now for some positive things regarding this run. Although the highway or Eagle Lakes road is never far away, you do get to pull away into nice granite mini gorges that allow you to feel like you are alone in the high country... that is until a trucker honks at you while you portage Henchmen. Oh well.
So maybe I made this sound horrible, I did have an amazing amount of fun on the rapids we ran. I think my negative view is partially because I expected a not all that stressful of a day and was totally stressed looking at the huge drops. The prospect of another long scout of the gorge between East Meets West and the mandatory portage was just too much. It was pretty though... Man I keep trying to sound more positive and it comes out negative. Oh well, I will head back sometime to finish the run. I also believe we had higher side water for the run, somewhere between 650 and 1,100... the scouts allow the water to come up underneath you as you look at the drops; Just what you need, jk. So perhaps a little less water would make some of the in between stuff less stressful. Oh, did I mention that even the in between class IV had badly placed holes and sieves? They do. But man it is pretty up there.
Thanks to Brian Tupper for his contribution of photos.
For another brief write-up and photos see "The River Lifestyle" website.
- Three Blind Mice (V). Near the end of the first mile, comes the first big test. You will see the West Bound Highway 80 overhead and know it is time to eddy out left. We ran down the left ramp and then avoided the bottom holes on the right. You can also run the 8 foot ledge entrance on the rights side and finish the same.
- Cascade (IV+ to V). So, perhaps if we had a probe unit this rapid would have proven easy. However, we didn't, and it looks like you are guaranteed a huge hit off one of the two walls when the cascade constricts to a few feet wide. I bet if you hit the tongue it would all work out fine, but none of us wanted to go first. The entrance also wasn't straight forward.
Toilet Bowl (III+). Bang down the right side and down a nice ramp or get beat in the left channel in a large hole backed by a wall.
Ski-Jump (IV). A ramp leads to a nose rock. Boof off of it making sure not to fade right to where the buried rock is.
Eagle Lakes road passes overhead directly below Ski-Jump.
Mini Gorge (III-). A long continuous stretch of class II+ and III- leads to Goonies. Eddy out right for a scout and most likely a portage. You can recognize Goonies by the sharp right turn and the Highway 80 overpass overhead.
- Goonies (V). A class IV lead in to a weird folding hole leads to the shallow right exit or the hole laden left exit. A very good boater out on the water our day walked it (and no I don't mean anyone in my group) along with the rest of us mere mortals.
Henchman (V+). A large hole leads to a huge crack drop. If you are anywhere other than the left most 2 feet, you are going into the crack and quite possible never coming out. And these days there is a log just downstream making it even more of a portage. I have no idea how Scott Lindgren ran this, maybe at huge flows when you could boof around the crack.
Open (III). Fun busy class III.
Hump (III+). A steep drop with a hump in the middle and hole on the right. We threaded the needle between them.
Read and Run (III+ to IV). There was one that ended in a pinch on the right, followed by one that had a mid stream ledge that we again punched on the right. This led right up to the first bigger but still small drop.
Zig-Zag (IV+ to V-). Ok, so again, I wish we had a probe unit. I am willing to add the V- because the top hole fed into a sieve. The hole was also a tricky one as the lead in to it was a 90 degree off angle hole. This led down a ramp to a river wide ledge. We boof off the edge of the midstream rock. The left was a burley hole. There was also a room of doom on the left.
Ledge (IV to IV+). A rocky stout drop with 90 degree off angle holes and a wall to keep you honest.
Just below ledges starts some class II+ and III-. This leads up to East Meets West. Eddies are easy to catch. The portage is easiest on the left along with the ensuing scout of the gorge below East Meets West.
East Meets West (V+). A large drop with class III+ leading to the ledge of this 20 footer. It can't be run at lower flows when the boof isn't in. Plan on going deep no matter what. Also be aware that boaters tend to bash the left wall below and I know of one boater getting knocked out cold before he was able to roll up. The road is up a short (100 feet) trail just to the side of the falls itself.
- I didn't run below here, but this is the gist of what there is.
A gorge with a few class IV to IV+ rapids leads to the portage (mile 3.1). A few more rapids lead to the gorge exit (mile 3.3). Flat water (so it appears from Goggle Earth) leads to the last hooray of rapids.
- The rapids pick back up around mile 5.2, Funnel is a steep drop that I use to swim below as a kid and comes around mile 5.4. I wish I could have made it this far to see it again. There are a few more rapids before the lake welcomes you at mile 5.6. You now have 2 miles to paddle to make it to the boat ramp. Enjoy.
Take-out: From Highway 80, take Highway 20 towards Grass Valley a few miles. Just after Camp Marine Sierra take a right on Lake Spaulding Road and follow to the boat ramp. Parking is $5 for the day.
Put-in: Continue up Highway 80 to the Cisco Grove exit. Cross the free way and before you cross the river drop down to the right to the parking lot at the Cisco Grove Park.
View South Yuba, Spaulding AKA East Meets West in a larger map
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