Above Photo: Corner Pocket on 49 to Bridgeport on the South Yuba
Austin Nickell here, checking in from the Kern River!
2010 was a really great year. The summer season lasted well into the winter in the Sierras, which gave me numerous opportunities to push my own boundaries and increase my education. Living in Tahoe in Northern California was awesome, while most people were strapping skis to the tops of their cars to catch Squaw’s 60 foot base, I was throwing my kayak on the van and driving down to where the snow started to melt. I had the opportunity to run the Upper Middle Cosumnes twice at decent flows, and numerous runs down 49 to Bridgeport on the South Yuba. The last couple weeks of March were absolutely crazy and the water was high. I was teaching a swift water rescue class with Sierra Rescue on the South Fork of the American. We had torrential rain and it did not let up for a week. With all the rain and weather we had a burst in the river and we were all of a sudden teaching with 6,500cfs. This made for a very intense class but was good because we had to be very cautious and make deliberate actions in and around the water.
As the 2011 season starts I feel more prepared than ever. The Kern River is definitely the wild west of Southern California, I have been guiding on it for the last three years and it now holds a very special place in my heart. I will be managing Kern River Tours this season and it is definitely bringing some different things into my field of vision, but I am prepared and heading into it strong. Outside of my work life I have been kayaking and rafting as much as possible. I have many projects in the works right now involving the Kern River and its tributaries. I am always looking for new projects, for the raft and to also push my kayaking limits. This weekend is the Kern River Festival and I will be participating in the Brush Creek Race. The two photos above are of the second portage on Brush, I ran the portage twice in my Super Puma and was lucky to come out of it clean each time. It was my birthday on April 2 and I was able to meet up with some long time rafting companions to take on Brush Creek at high water. So we loaded up my Aire Super Puma and headed for the creek. I have been rafting and kayaking on Brush for a couple years and feel very comfortable with all the lines and hazards. Taking a raft down a run like this is not for the faint of heart at any level, but on April 2 mother natured delivered a great present. We were able to run it at 5 on the gauge with three of us in the Puma. Below is the Brush Creek rafting video and I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to stay tuned in to the CKS blog for more exclusive updates.