My excitement levels peaked and reached breaking point when on our first day in California we received news that Dinkey Creek was at a prime medium / high flow. Dinkey Creek is one of the best-known runs in California, if not the world. It is a relatively short run for the region at just six miles long but it is jam-packed with huge slides and awesome rapids with very little space between the horizon lines.
To get to Dinkey you have to drive up a small mountain road, which early season had not yet been cleared of debris from the winter storms. About an hour into the drive up we were halted by a tree that had chosen to keel over and die directly over the road. With the tree blocking our route we had two choices, give up and go to the bar and drink away our sorrows … or find a way to somehow squeeze our vehicle underneath it.
We divided into teams with one group removing the roof racks, another attempting to excavate the road with sticks and one exuberant German man trying to lift the tree up with a car jack. After two hours of toiling in the sun, we were ready to give it a go. The crew waited with baited breath as Dane attempted to manoeuvre his van underneath the tree, surely one of our plans to create more space would work? Alas not, we were still too tall to fit under the tree. We went back to the drawing board and dug some more … midway through our latest digging session a park ranger pulled up, we informed him of our problem and thought surely that he would have a chainsaw with him and be able to chop this nuisance of a tree out of our way. Unfortunately, this was not the case as he had not yet been on the appropriate course to become certified to use a chainsaw. I should say here that I am normally thoroughly against Health and Safety protocol, certificates and courses but I am happy to make an exception for any sort of machinery that is capable of severing several limbs at once. The ranger called in a man who did have a chainsaw certificate and forty minutes later a high tech axe-wielding hero rolled up and put an end to our ordeal.
Finally, we were back on the road towards Dinkey Creek. We arrived as the sun was setting and decided to camp at the put in. It is on average an hour and thirty minutes long to hike down to the river, minus thirty minutes if you are German with exceptionally long legs and plus thirty if you are from a city named Warrington and are scared to step on anything that is not pavement.
The next day we awake to glorious Californian sunshine and put on for our first day of kayaking in California. Dinkey Creek starts with a bang and a short few paddle strokes into the run you are sliding down a huge put in slide, the river continues to flow down massive, smooth and beautiful pieces of granite for the next little while. The largest of these being ‘Willie Kern’s’, interesting tidbit here – the rapids on this creek are not named after the people that first ran them but instead of the people that had, erm, shall we say … interesting descents down them.
After Willie Kern’s there is a short pool before a perfect twenty-foot waterfall. The river then temporarily forgets it’s good clean and honest nature and proceeds to deliver three rapids with undercuts and siphons on them, the last of which is a relatively big portage. However, once you seal launch back in the joy and fun is restored and you continue to drop and work your way through a network of slides and rapids that are simply incredible. There are apparently some more portages further down the run but we didn’t find any … we did, however, have a phenomenal afternoon blasting down this Californian classic. There is far too much whitewater to be able to comment on all it, I will simply say that Dinkey Creek both lived up to and exceeded all of my expectations.
Looking forward to checking out more of what California has to offer over the next two weeks. See you on the water! Bren