Middle Kings - the "Bottom Nine"


So the next morning we woke up to the same awesome views of Tehipite Dome that we fell asleep with. After breakfast we were ready for the Bottom Nine, the stretch of this river that is supposedly the crux when you talk with people that have run MFK.
So after a short Class II boogie start to warm up the first horizon line marked the start into the steepest section of this trip.



A short portage followed, and then it just kept on going. We ran some rapids out of the boat, with the ocational scout and also some portages. Most drops are stacked up to each other, but its possible to stop inbetween and boatscout a lot. 



Manuel and I liked this section a lot, for us it was less stressful then the day before, maybe because we just took our time and scouted more also due to the steepnes of the rapids. Also the character of the river had changed to a little more pool and drop style.


steep bouldergardens as far as you can see - Rok and Manu

Some spots are pretty sieved out and its awesome to have guys with you that know the run and know most places where to portage or scout. This just saves so much time and energy on a long class V day like this.


cool rocksplat boof in the second half of the day - Rok and Manu


Darin and Rok on one of the countless moves down the Bottom Nine

We had a long lunchbreak before one of the portages, and it took us almost 7 hours to get to the confluence with the South Kings which left us happy, relieved, very tired and also a little sad that the Middle Kings was over. We put up camp a little before the confluence and went to bed pretty early and pretty exhausted.



The crew tired after we`ve completed Middle Fork Kings -
Manuel Köhler, myself, Darin McQuoid, Rok Sribar
So the next day we paddled out Garlic Falls, a true Californian classic that has some very good whitewater on its own. Even though it was much lower than the last time I`ve done it, like my brother showed us four years ago, that first rapid wants to show you who`s the boss and dialed out some whitewater mikado again. After a beautiful last day on the river we finished our trip at the parking lot and went out to get some eatin`and lovin`....


Darin leading Rok on Garlic Falls
This trip had some of the best scenery I´ve ever witnessed out of a kayak. Adding that to the hike and 4 days of hard, continous and superb whitewater this is truely a trip to remember. Thanks to Bri, Jason, Kevin and Paul for the help with logistics, and Rok, Darin and Manu for the company and the very save trip on the water. MFK is a true adventure and a trip you`ll never forget.

the beautiful views everywhere will stick with me forever -
LeConte Canyon on the hike in before the switchbacks start
Additional Info: we had 1350cfs at Rodgers Crossing when we started hiking and the river was dropping pretty fast. For my feel it was a perfect level. The first part of the river is probably always very bony. Bottom Nine was pushy but perfect. Appearently we had a little too much water for the gorges after Devils Washbowl.

Big shoutout to Shane Benedict, Obie and the whole Liquidlogic crew for their huge support!!

cheers, Reiner


Middle Kings - "The Middle Four"



Day two was supposedly the easiest day on the river. Our goal was it to paddle to Tehipite Valley or even further, to maybe start with the Bottom Nine and paddle out the next day. As things turned out it was pretty challenging for Manu and myself. Rok and Darin were leading and bombing so we followed which turned out to be pretty stressful in a few rapids. We didn`t take any pictures that day so the only footage I have is some Gopro video...


video


video


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The biggest slide we portaged that day was "The Big Bad Beaver". A true norwegian kind of monsterslide, in the middle of nowhere with a tight entrance line and a big exit... None of us was eager to test our skills on that...


the Beaver
As we made our way into the valley paddling got easier and views were just amazing. 




amazing views left and right


first views of Tehipite Dome

We made it to the camping spot at Tehipite Dome at noon, and then decided to spend the afternoon and the night since camping on the "Bottom Nine" appearently is not very good and we were very fast in schedule anyways. It would have only made sence to keep going if we would have liked to finish the next day.

the team -Manu, Darin, myself, Rok


a Rattlebaby - the only one we saw thankfully
thats a dome!!
Camp two
We all went to bed a little nervous, first myself beeing kinda scared of the snakes and knowing the next morning would start with the "Bottom Nine", supposedly the harderst part of the river...

coming up - "the Bottom Nine"

cheers, re

Middle Kings - first day on the river




So we spent our first night just before Palisade Creek joins from the river left side and brings an essential amount of water to make the kayaking more worthwhile. Our breakfast consisted of a nice little combination of two slides that marked our start into our first full day on the river.


Camp One in the morning sun
The entrance....
...and the exit
Darin on a random slide of the day
Waterlevels were supposedly medium high, which would mean good things for the rapids up too waterfall alley but maybe too much for the gorges after.

So after some steep, fast bouldergardens, a few bigger slides and some smaller portages we arrived at "Double Drop" one of the famous bigger drops on this run. The line on this steep slide combination is pretty obvious, we all opted for the right entrance and met up in the eddy below.


Manu entering on the right
myself on the second drop, pic by Rok Sribar
Steep bouldergardens continued until one of the little gorges inbetween invited us for a longer scout and made us set safety at a pretty mean little hole.


video

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Rok boofing a sweet drop after the little gorge
What a lot of kayakers that go to California don`t realize is that the rivers here don`t only consist of beautiful clean long slides but actually require a lot of chunky, bouldergarden, steepness skills. This video shows a little bit of the character of the first day.


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Then "Superslide" followed, the biggerst and most fun one of the frequendly run slides.


Rok on "Superslide", he`s kinda blurry at the bottom ;)




After a short lunch and boatrepair break we continued our way through some steep and not always clean whitewater until we reached "Waterfall alley" with Devil`s Washbowl in the end, a 15 footer with bad consequences if you mess it iup and swimm into the next drop.


Devil`s Washbowl
video

We all had pretty good lines, then we opted to go on the trail and portage the next gorges and "Raw Dog" waterfall since the waterlevel was apparently too high for most of this section.
Actually for me this portage was the harderst thing of the day, since my legs were still tired from the hike and shouldering the loaded boat was no joke. After we were back on the river we had only a couple of miles of Class III boogie and a beautiful meadow float left until we sent up Camp 2. This day contained almost all the big slides that I allready knew from videos and pictures, which left me wondering what we will have to deal with the remaining days on the river. Also the "not too low" waterlevel left me a little nervous regarding the "Bottom Nine" that would mark our last day on MFK. But until then we still had our easiest (joking?) day waiting....

next  - the "Middle Four" - the easiest (??) day on the river

cheers, re



Middle Kings - the Hike


Golden Gate Bridge - sightseeing instead of Upper Cherry...
After listening to stories and reading trip reports, kayaking through the gorges of Middle Fork Kings was something I planned since my last stay in California in 2013. The MFK is supposedly one of hardest multiday runs in the USA, adding a brutal hike-in, having to cross the Sierra Nevada over Bishop Pass.
This year the snowpack looked more promising than the last years that were historical droughts in California, and therefore kayaking season was very short and over early. 

Manuel is on school holiday schedule so he took of from work one week early and we booked our flights for 1st of July. Our plan was to meet up with Rok Sribar and Darin McQouid to catch Upper Cherry Creek and then go to MFK.


Alcatraz Island
Long story short, Manu made it to UCC on time and I missed out because of a series of unfortunate things that happened...
Then we started our plans for MFK. The team originally consisted of two more guys, Michael Wutti (who was on UCC) and Manfred Stich (who arrived late without lugagge), but after some drama they decided to pull out the morning we left for different reasons. Mandi got sick and Michi had a close call on UCC and didn`t feel like going on another multi day as serious as MFK right away.

So we hit the road for Bishop a little late, Rok had organized that Paul Gamache would drive our car back to takeout (a shuttle almost 242miles and 6 hours long), thankfully Kevin Smith opted to get our permit in Mammoth and we picked it up on our way down. Fun thing to see Kevin, who boated with us in Europe a few years back, taking the Ambulance to bring our permit ;)

Six Seven Kevin is the Ambulance that brings the permit
We wanted to start our hike in the evening so we could get some work done before the next day, so we drove up to Short Lake and started hiking at about 9pm after everything was prepared and packed.
Thankfully three friends helped with some of the equipment. Our plan was to hike one whole day and paddle out in four or five, so bags with food and stuff were pretty heavy...

We all slept around Long Lake at about 9800 feet (ca. 3300m) elevation and got up early the next day. The path is very good to walk and only really steepens up the last switchbacks up to Bishop Pass at 11972 feet elevation (ca. 3700m). 


Early morning views at 6am
First view of the pass on the left
Manu working his way up, if you look closely you see a green boat going up the pass
The trail steepens as you come closer to the highest point
Breakfast in the first morning light
there was a group behind us, do you spot the kayaker?

The scenery is stunning and air definitely thinner. I had a hard time breathing the last meters up to the pass. 


Manu on the last meters up
finally on top of the pass


Up on top Manu and I took a short break and then began our decent down to LeConte Canyon. The first part is relatively flat and the views are amazing. 


our way down through the Dusy Basin
nice views everywhere you look



As the shoulders really start hurting before the switchbacks down into the Canyon start. We took a long lunchbreak before, which resulted us walking down the switchbacks in the biggest heat of the day. 


tired yet?
First look into LeConte Canyon where our river waits


Everybody told us the way down is harder then up, and boy were they right. So after approximately 2100 feet (700m) up, over 3000 feet (1000m) down and nearly 13miles (20km) of hiking we finally arrived at the river.
Our initial plan was to camp at put-in but as we arrived we heard that plans had changed and we would go down the river for a couple of miles to set camp. 


First meadows before we put up camp

All that I can say about this very low volume part of the river is that I would portage most if I wouldn`t have carried my kayak for the whole day before...


Camp One


cheers, re

coming up - day one on the river