Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fantasy Falls

In May I flew to California for a wilderness kayaking trip down the North Fork of the Mokelumne River. It's one of the high sierra classics and is commonly referred to as "Fantasy Falls."

The crew...

 Jakub Nemec

Will Rawstron

Rolf Kelly

The Author

I'd run Fantasy once before, ten years prior. It was one of my first overnighters and a fantastic adventure, but due to low water and limited experience we'd portaged a lot. I was looking forward to going back, and cleaning up.

The river is tiny to begin with, but steep throughout.




 Jakub in One of the First Mini-Gorges

 Will Exits Said Gorge

R Kelly Buried

The rapids quickly became classic and the late afternoon light was perfect for shooting them. 

 Jakub Lays the Golden Stroke

We camped just above the most classic gorge of the trip.

 Jakub and Will Relax at Camp

 The Crew Doing Some Late Evening Scouting

 The Author, Scoping the Lines

Another Crew Camped Across the River


The next morning we were flying over ledges and sliding down granite slides for breakfast.



Will Heading Into A Big Slide

R Kelly Running One the Rest of Us Walked

Jakub Nails Another Golden Stroke

Will Rides It Switch

After running a few short mini-gorges things really started to pick up in the Jedi Mind Meld gorge. This one starts off inconspicuously but builds into some of the biggest rapids of the trip. We launched over big ledges and eddied out above the finale, the Jedi Mind Meld. All four of us melded our minds, and dropped in.

Rolf In the Middle of the Jedi Mind Meld

Will Entering the Jedi Mind Meld

More challenging gorges followed punctuated by intermittent calm sections.

Rolf Finishes the Entrance to the Rifleman Gorge

Will On His Way Over

Late in the afternoon we ran a waterfall and camped on granite ledges below.

Jakub Makes the Last Move Above Camp

Camp Number 2

The next morning we had a portage soon after camp. Fun boulder gardens through incredible scenery followed.

Scouting the Untouchables

Mokelumne Tetons


The boulder gardens culminated in the namesake of the run, Fantasy Falls.

Will Dropping Into Fantasy Falls


Rolf Running The 20 Footer Below

Jakub Taking It All In

The Author, Hitting that Golden Stroke

Fantasy culminates in two impressive slides. The first, "Island", we all walked. The second, "The Thing", drops into enormous hydraulics before ending in a large, sticky, hole. Rolf dropped in first.

Rolf flew through the hole at the bottom and I stepped up to the plate.


I hit the meat of the top hydraulic and it immediately rejected me into an eddy that I was unable to paddle out of. I had to hike back to the top for a second attempt.

Round 2...

It was a violent ride but I rolled up at the bottom, unscathed. Will was next and probably had the best line.

The whitewater continues below into Salt Springs reservoir. With the current drought the reservoir was low and plenty of new rapids resulted. We ran them into the lake, then paddled across the reservoir to our car. Another beautiful high sierra trip in the bag.

Sharing a Laugh After a Successful Trip

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