Fordyce Creek shut off about two weeks ago and flows started to look very low and slightly depressing in California. After another day of paddling the irrigation ditch behind my house, I got a call that “Hells Kitchen” run on the North Fork Stanislaus was in.

After an amazingly scenic drive over Ebbits pass I met up Darin Mcquoid, and German David Ernst for the run. We set shuttle and soon were hiking the mile or so to the confluence of the N.F Stan and Highland Creek. We arrived at the confluence and started paddling, dodging rocks. We knew the creek was on the low side from the levels and within the first few miles we had several portages and a fair share of crappy rapids. The river started to clean up as we entered a beautiful granite gorge with slides and boofs. Then we reached the “stout portage” which we hiked our boats about half a mile or so on the side of the canyon. At the end of the portage we tossed our boats down about thirty feet and swam to collect them. After the portage the river started to drop. We reached an impressive rapid witch was a quadruple drop with four 4-8’ tall drops all stacked up one on top of another. I was very tempted to run it but eventually decided to save it for another day. We continued down with a good slide that ended in a large pillow. Then we arrived at “Portage 24,” which Darin had been talking a lot about. I took one look at it and decided I was not going to run it. It is maybe a 50’ drop in total that has a tricky lead in and several reconnects and shelves on the way down. Darin looked like he was considering it, but he too decided to save it for another day. We portaged the drop and then spotted a beautiful campsite directly below to spend the night. The campsite is one of my favorites ever.

The next morning we woke up and were pretty much instantly in the goods. The day started off with a few smooth granite slides then the perfect 20’ waterfall known as “Mini Curtain.” I was the first one to drop and it was amazing paddling off the horizon.

Then we continued down through a great gorge until Darin eddied out at a large horizon line. I was pulling into the eddy as David just missed the eddy and fell backwards off the drop. Not knowing what was below and after all the terrible sieve portages we had seen we had no idea what he just fell into. I jumped out of my boat and saw that he was ok in his boat at the bottom. The drop was a clean boof onto a large boil then off another 10’ or so. I gave Darin the line then followed him down. We both had rowdy lines down.

The river started to mellow out with the occasional portage until we arrived at “Astrobiologist Creep.” I set safety at the bottom and watched Darin style it. I then swapped safety duty with Darin and hiked up to my boat. Dropping in I had some butterflies, but it was such an incretible feeling running that rapid and hitting the line.

The run had a few miles left of some great slides, a nice 10’ boof, and a lot of mank. We reached the take out in the middle of the day and blasted the shuttle out. Darin and David headed off down the pass back to Sacremento and I headed back up and over the pass to Reno. I took a little napto break up the drive at the famous “Fantasy Falls” put in. Hopefully next year I wont be dreaming of putting in here.

Thanks to Darin Mcquoid for the photos and David Ernts for the video!