Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Dusty Trail to The Middle Kings

Groveland, CA. This is the closest town to Cherry Creek, and it happens to also have California's oldest bar, The Iron Door Saloon. Every week the Iron Door hosts the most rockin'ist karaoke gig in Cali.

Dylan, post karaoke, tweakin' to the max. Big ups to John Warner for taking us in underneath his armpit, and showing us a good time in the promised land.

One day we tried to run the Cherry proper run. We were too being too late. We did however get to drive around with boats on our car and look cool. That was cool. No, actually what WAS really cool was our adventure later on in the day jumping off tall rocks and swimming under a waterfall.

Mr. Cool himself, Scott Harke, carved this Greenboat carving out of wood. Really, that's real wood. Like, knock-knock, who's there? A tree. A tree who? Like a tree that's made out of real wood tree.

California trees like sun, I like California sunsets. This picture was taken on the way into Kings Canyon National Park, after we got the green light from Al G. to go to the Middle Fork of the Kings. After hearing the NC crew's description of their trip down as "epic, the trip of a lifetime," I was all of a sudden terrified. I envied their position, sitting at a table eating pizza with all their worries behind them. While Grace insisted we needed to go figure it out ourselves, Robin Betz offered up the most useful wisdom of the group...1.Bring a lot of food 2.Go slow 3.Keep a positive attitude. These three things made this expedition a reality for us.

The weight of the adventure that lay ahead sank in as we dropped Dylan's car at the Yucca Point take-out trailhead. My legs felt weak as I stood there gazing upstream into the gorge that held the infamous "Bottom 9," (the last nine miles of the trip, considered nine of the hardest miles of whitewater in the state of California)

We packed everything we would need for six days in the High Sierras into Pat's truck, our shuttle vehicle. What seems to fail to always be mentioned about the Middle Kings, is the shuttle. You've really got to pay to play, 400 miles worth. Down off the west slope of the Sierras, south around the bottom of them, and then back north, up the east slope to Bishop.

Bishop was our grocery stop, as well as our Father's Day call stop. Here the crew, Dylan Bruce, Pat Keller, Chris Gragtmans and myself, held "the explosion." The gear, boats, food, bags, and more food was strewn across the Bishop Pass Trailhead parking lot as we tried to cram it all into neat compact systems that fit into our kayaks.

A view into the unknown from the trailhead. We started hiking in around 7pm, attempting to knock a mile or two off the 11-mile jaunt over the eastern Sierra ridge before dark.

The gang, truckin' hard after sundown.

Even when it gets dark, the Promised Land is stunning.

As daybreak broke, Chris Gragtmans' eye fell out. Always bring an extra eyeball when traveling in the backcountry.

Turns out we nabbed a rather pretty camp spot when we collapsed the previous evening. From the top of this hill, we could finally see Bishop Pass off in the distance. It seemed like light years away, but I knew if I put one foot in front of the other, I would eventually get there.

Lunch, near the summit.

Chris thought he deserved a statue near the top, so he hiked in this life size wax figurine of himself. Pat was impressed.

The view east off the top of the Sierras, down the path we had just traveled up.

The first view down into LeConte Canyon, our get-in. Mountains towering above, I suddenly felt smaller than a termite. The fears about T-Rex suddenly bounding over the ridges at surrounded us returned in full force.

Again I proclaimed, "That was the most intense thing I've ever done in my whole life!" Here at Camp 2 of our trip, we questioned the sanity of our decision to hike in without someone who had done the river before. It was decided that, "We got that shit!"

Stay tuned for pictures of kayaks and kayakers actually in water!!!


Blogger jsr said...

Rackley here from Oregon Kayaking. This post is great, very funny and informative. You write well, which is rare in the blog-o-sphere these days. Keep it up bro.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Warner... hilariousness

looking forward to some pics on the water. That run is a chargefest!

11:55 AM  
Blogger Cooper Lambla said...

Thanks for the kind words!

1:36 PM  
Blogger nickyb said...

no no...i believe that run is a burlfest!

great write ups, did gragtmans take on the t-rex, or what?

8:36 PM  
Blogger Chris Gallaway said...

man, great post, coop! look forward to the next one. speeking of t-rex's, spencer and i have been hatching an idea for a t-rex kayak race. more on that later. -cg

7:56 PM  

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