North Fork of the Smith
|Stretch:||To the Main Smith|
|Difficulty:||Class IV- to IV+|
|Flows:||800-?. Current Dreamflows (est) gauge|
|Put-in:||Low Divide Rd|
|Take-out:||Middle Fork Confluence|
|Shuttle:||42 miles, 1 hour 1 way|
|Season:||Winter Spring (Natural)|
|Featured in Video Eight.|
The final run of my first successful trip to the Smith, the run quickly became one of my all time favorites. I don’t know if it was the first day of sunny boating in some two months, or the great flow (2,300) or the beauty that was the canyon itself, I would like to think it was a little of all of the above. But whatever it was, I laughed my way down the rapids, bouncing and flying off the huge waves, remembering exactly why I love the sport so much. Even though this run is some eight hours from Davis, I will not have to force myself to get the motivation to make my way up to the smith once a year to run this run, absolutely amazing.
I did not remember all the rapids as there were many of them, I did however write down the info on the big ones along with a few of the smaller ones. There are numerous class III which I do not mention however.
- Sharp Left (IV-). On a sharp left turn there is a rapid. The rapid is not short but
not long, it contains a gradual right bend. Run on the right side as the left hits the
wall on the bend. At low flows apparently there are rocks in the center of the channel.
Easier Sharp Left (III-). Another sharp left which can be run down the center. Half way down there is a large hole in the middle that was runnable our day. Move left or right of the rock downstream.
- There are two large rapids which tell you you are approaching the gorge section of the run.
One (IV). The first of which has a left to right typewriter move. It is around some ledges.
Two (III). I don’t really remember this rapid so much. I remember that we ran on the right and that there were a few holes. Diane almost got stuck in one forcing me to almost go into some bad stuff.
Scouted (IV). Halfway through this mile comes the beginning of the hardest gorge style rapid stretch. Just after a right bend comes a challenging rapid. You can enter right or left around midstream rocks. And you can finish right or left of a fan rock below. Whatever side you start on you end on, both go at our flow.
- Z-Turn (IV). A short rapid, at our flow we ran left around the ledge in the center. It was
tricky to use the cushions of the right and left sides to allow this move. At low water I
have been told the line is to the right of the center rock at top.
- Long rapids begin, increasing in wave size and speed. At about mile 8.5 you come to a stretch
where there is a massive rock slide on the left.
Long One (IV+). Boat scouting is a necessity as water was in my eyes and I only know the details of the line we took. We entered right of center. A little way down we were on the right shore, and road the cushion off (to the left) of a rock where the water was piling up. We now worked our way left to end between two large rocks off of the left bank. At low water I think a rock may appear in this slot, so be aware.
- Horizon Line (IV+). One of the more impressive rapids on the run, a large pour over rock in
the center must be skirted to the left. Downriver on the left is a very large hole. Skirt
the pour over close enough to avoid the following hole. Finish in the center where there is
another large, but runnable hole.
Ferns? Not sure if this is the location of the fern cave, but it may be.
- Filmed (III-). Filmed this rapid hoping it would be good, since so many good ones had snuck
up on us and escaped our video camera. There were a few holes, no big deal though.
- Chute (III+). A large horizon line marks the chute drop. There is a nice large tongue to
run down. It can be made easier if you power off of the right side of the tongue to avoid the
holes at the bottom of the tongue.
The Big One (V-). Now this rapid may not actually be V-, but we ran it blind and it kind of stomped us on the line we choose. We ran to the left of the entrance pour over, and tried to move behind it right in order to avoid the massive pour over to the left. The problem arose with the massive hole blocking this escape route. It was passable, but sent me backwards and skyward before it let go, and flipped Brian. It did look sneakable to the right the hole way… hindsight is 20/20 I guess.
Take out: The North Fork Confluence is in the town of Gasquet. Take a road, just after “She She’s” restaurant on the left. Go over a small bridge and park on the right. Just after and to the left of the bridge is a trail that leads to the point at the confluence.
Put in: Just before the Mary Adams Bridge as you drive east on 199, is a forest service road leaving on the left side. Take this road. At one point it comes to a T- intersection, go right and continue. This road leads to the put in. The road also take about an hour or more to drive.
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