California 2011

By Philip Baues

After four weeks of travelling, paddeling, and filming Olaf Obsommer and his Team are on their way to Los Angeles to return back home. As expected water levels were high so we had to be prepared for heavy waters. With the “South Fork of the Feather” the guys approached another steep mile.

Hiking is the paddler’s passion

Excruciating I smash myself through Californian undergrowth. Sweat is running into my eyes and branches lash into my face – where is the damn road? A few meters next to me I can hear Jared plunking his boat down and swearing for about a minute. Olaf joins us sweat pouring off his dry suit so I couldn’t deny myself laughing – cut-throat hike-out.

We are located somewhere between the “South Fork of the Feather” and a road that runs somewhere high above the river. At least we assume so. Already the path to the entrance was terribly adventurous: a snow covered road jammed the entrance by car. Since we had nothing better to do, we tried to dig a passage using our paddles. After half a day of sweat-inducing work and two broken paddles we had to realize that this wouldn’t take us anywhere. We gathered our strengths for the next day and made our way to the entrance on foot with our boats piggyback.

Arriving, even fearless Latvian Tomass had his doubts whether it was a good idea to get onto the water at this level. But the creek knew how to convince us: heavy cataracts, nice waterfall combos and a few toxic rollers challenged us, but we were lovin’ it. Once we reached a place carrying a strange sign »99 problems« and where an abatis blocked the passage we decided to return. The road had to be somewhere above, which brings us back to the story’s beginning.

After a tough fight with thorns, branches, steep walls and the heavy equipment we did reach the cars after four hours. With the first well deserved sip of beer almost all exertions were forgotten and we agreed, that in the end the effort was worth it – after all we were able to run one of California’s most beautiful rivers.

Yuba River and Yosemite National Park

After the debilitating action at the Feather we all needed a break. We stayed two days with Nick Wimsett and his girlfriend in Coloma and enjoyed a few runs on the Yuba River. Besides, Olaf has discovered a whole new side of himself and is now known as ‘M&M’ when on the road – the Mighty Moustache.

The last two days we visited the Yosemite National Park and were impressed by Half Dome, El Capitan & Co. Many Americans and tourists obviously had the same idea – silly choosing a Yosemite stop on a weekend. Anways a few great shots are safe and now we’re on the highway back Los Angeles – Germany, here we come!

Ride on,Philip