Salazar heads down the trail.
The second southernmost large drainage in California, the South Fork
Middle Tule bears a striking resemblance to Bridge
the uppermost end of the state. Super clean drops interspersed with
steep abusive mank. We put on with low flows, certainly the creeking
whitewater. Gradient is such that another inch of water would have been
nice, and two inches would have started to get scary.
Putting on with a large group we made quick downstream progress through
rocky channels and lots of brush, before a quick scout for the first
bedrock drop, which ended up being a fun affair run down down the left.
downstream of the
first piece of bedrock was an unusual drop, a
slide where we all drove right to narrowly miss an overhanging
stalactite. I wish I had a picture but we were in go mode and I was one
of the last to run the said drop.
From the looks of the river during the drive up I was expecting
slippery granite, but at water level it was travertine and very sticky,
but thankfully it channelized well for the larger rapids.
Hale enjoying the first larger
drop, a slide in the twenty foot
Pruett on the same, the at water
view makes it look small.
Our day continued on a predictable path. Run or portage a manky rapid
or two, enjoy a clean bedrock drop, rinse and repeat.
Pruett runs a not quite as clean
drop the rest of us portaged.
boulders and a portage here and
there led us to one of the more
marque drops run here by Drew Duvall.
More mank and then we were above what we all expected to be a sweep
double drop, which was actually a narrow triple set of sliding falls.
Robertson and Jason Hale
A short ways downstream we got out above the
single drop of the
run, which is very obvious from the shuttle road. It looked like higher
flows would have made it much better, and Taylor's story of taking a
big hit and breaking a camera on the falls dissuaded any of our group
from running it. After a ten foot climb there is a nice portage trail
on river right, and we continued down past a manky gorge that lies
below the falls.
Many more boulder piles led to a nice clean one where I took the lazy
option and shot from my boat. Hale having fun while Pruett hops out.
Taylor told us the lines on the largest set of the run, a nice slide to
falls both run down the right, so I quickly probed and hopped out for
Duvall enjoying the best of the
South Middle Tule.
Taylor Robertson and Danny Salazar peel out from the pool below the fun
Below the final falls the river had just one more slide,
quite as clean as others, and many boulder piles before we reached a
small diversion dam. From the diversion dam we portaged a few hundred
yards into the North Fork Middle Fork Tule and put on, running it into
the true Middle Tule and kayaking about a mile downstream before taking
out at a nice, well marked access point.
Was the South Fork Middle Tule worth kayaking? Undoubtedly
least once. It will also take at least a year for me to forget all the
mank and get in there again. While not a classic, the South Middle Tule
has unique rapids that require a lot of work, but are rewarding enough
to justify the effort.
We had about 300cfs on the gauge
I think around 400 would have been ideal.
Gradient by mile according to Google Earth:
free camping up the North Fork
Middle Fork Tule.