Sunday, April 1, 2012

Patrick’s Creek: Perfect Intro to Creeks

Length: 3.2 miles

Average Gradient: 134’/mi

Class: 3/4

Paddlers: Team Sundance Lori & J.R.

Located in Northern California, Patricks Creek is a tributary of the ever so amazing, Smith River. Known as a great intro to creeks, this run has easy logistics and road side scouting from top to bottom. The biggest hazard on the run is the willow corridors that can get walled out. But, since it’s easy to scout from the road, you can choose your line wisely in advance!

(Looking upstream at the put-in)

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The put-in was at the confluence of Shelly Creek. It was a nice big eddy where we could warm up with some paddle strokes and ferry’s before heading downstream. Once we peeled out of the eddy, it was game on! We made our way down stream, eddy hopping to ensure clean lines. This was a great practice for catching smaller micro eddies that can be easily overlooked on bigger volume rivers. The rapids were all pretty straight forward but, seeing as it was a fairly continuous run, it’s wise to stay alert and keep an eye out for wood.

(Taking the left line away from the wood)

(Eddy hopping my way downstream)

(Looking downstream at a log - easily avoided by running far left or far right)

(Running one of the many fun rapids)

After many fun boofs, punching holes and big waves, we arrived at the confluence of the Middle Fork of the Smith River. We continued downstream for another 7 miles on the Patrick’s Creek section of the Middle Fork of the Smith River to the take out at Panther Flat. This Class 3+ section with one Class 4 (Highway Rapid) is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. From low volume creeking to big water fun, this section has it all! I can’t wait to paddle Patrick’s Creek again!

(Confluence of the Smith River)

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(Entrance to Highway Rapid - Middle Fork of the Smith River)

The best gauge to check is the Smith River – At Jedediah Smith. We put on at 15,000 cfs on the Smith gauge which is a good medium flow for Patrick’s Creek. For a complete guide on the Smith River drainage, purchase a copy of Whitewater of the Smith Watershed: A Guide to Whitewater Recreation on the Smith River. Another great reference is because it shows current and projected flows so you can plan accordingly. This run comes in for only a couple days at a time during the rainy season so be prepared to get it while it’s there!

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