A Kayaking Blog By Dan Simenc

Off The Middle Kings And Heading East

Off The Middle Kings And Heading East

Sep 1, 2011

California beckoned once again and I made the ten-hour drive South to Bishop California to revisit one of the most physically demanding rivers in the state. The Middle Kings drains the high peaks of the Southern Sierras and is usually the last major California river to hit a prime flow. This season’s extra thick snowpack pushed the window for this classic run all the way into the end of August, which fortunately aligned with my schedule.

The logistics for the Middle Kings are colossally complex and begin with access. The roadless stretch of river is reached from the Eastern side of the Sierras by hiking your boat and gear 12.8 miles over the 11,972 foot high Bishop Pass. Upon reaching the river, 50 miles of class V whitewater and 7,500 feet of gradient stand between you and the take-out, where you face a 300-mile drive back to the put-in. The shuttle is 6.5 hours long, and that’s just one-way!

To “simplify” things a bit I decided I would just cruise down to the trailhead from Boise, hike in and paddle the river on my own, then hitchhike with my kayak back around the Sierras to retrieve my car. This eliminated the need to coordinate the massive shuttle and would save me some gas money; it would also add to the adventure, as things would remain interesting even after I made it off the river.

Posing for a serious self-portrait before the suffering of the long hike begins.

I set out hiking with my awkward, heavy load Tuesday morning, made it off the river Saturday afternoon, and finally reunited with my car again on Monday morning. The trip was exhilarating and exhausting. Being alone compounded the many challenges of the trip making it one of the most mentally and physically taxing adventures of my short, happy life thus far.

I’ll be writing a full report on all the details of the adventure that will hit the blogosphere with a longer video sometime in the near future. For now this will have to do, as I am busy preparing for an East Coast tour. I have many loose ends to wrap up in Boise before I can hit the road once again and make the long, thrilling drive across the heart of America.

My basic schedule for the East Coast tour is as follows:

  • Gauley Fest Sept 16th;
  • Paddle wherever the gettin’s good;
  • Green Race Nov 5th;
  • More creeking then head home for Thanksgiving.

This itinerary has some wide flexible gaps that will be filled on the fly. I hope to make new friends and reunite will old friends, and will be looking for people to paddle with and couches to crash on. If you want to meet up and paddle, contact me through this blog or on facebook!

Enjoy this very quick edit from the my Middle Kings solo trip, and expect much more later.

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