Feather, West Branch, California, US
1) Whiskey Flat to Dean Road (Naked Lady Run)
||IV-V (for normal flows)
Token EddyPhoto of Mike Martini by Thomas O'Keefe taken 03/07/09
The West Branch Feather drainage was missed during the early kayaking exploratory that occurred
during the 1980’s. Several attempts were made to run the West Branch of the Feather from
Whiskey Flat to Lake Oroville in the late 80’s and early 90’s, all resulted in
bushwhacking out of this steep canyon. In 1994 Eric Nies and Kate Udall, at the suggestion of
Dave Steindorf, ran the section of the West Branch from Whiskey Flat to Dean Road. What they
found was a classic undiscovered class IV run with great access.
The run starts off with a few warm up rapids: the first requiring attention is a picket fence
that has several options and a bad sieve in the middle. Below this set of rapids is the Miocene
Dam. This dam can generally be run at flows below 1.4 on the staff gauge that is located on the
right side of the dam. The dam can be easily portaged on the right side.
A few short rapids below the dam you will come to the first major horizon line. This rapid is
known as Miniature Golf. Like most of the rapids on the West Branch this one has multiple
options. Down the left is fairly straight forward; dodge some holes and make the turn and you are
good to go.
Let’s Make a Deal, a rapid with four different routes in between boulders, follows. Door 2
(counting from right to left) is the straightforward option. Door 4 is a little easier to boat
scout. The next rapid is Token Eddy which is run down the river right side and grab the token
eddy halfway down on river right.
The final two big drops are another step up. The first of these is Stop, Drop, and Roll where you
start left and then thread the slot between boulders at the bottom to avoid the sieves on far
river right and river left known as the Tunnel of Love. The final big drop is Bullet which has a
couple different lines at the top which have changed over the years. Most portage the top section
on the left and then enter the rapid midway down. The middle section of the rapid can be run down
the center but working towards the left. As the rapid approaches the wall at the bottom, work
right to avoid the hydraulic up against the wall on river left.
There are a couple more rapids to finish out the run. As a wall approaches on river left the
river drops into hydraulic up against the wall. The currents along the wall feed back into the
hydraulic that tend to hold boats and swimmers.
The final rapid is a fun class III+ rapid. Immediately work to river right at the bottom of the
rapid. Below here the river drops into a tempting series of boulder gardens representing the
start of Ben and Jerry's Gorge. Resist the temptation and don't miss the take-out. It is
a steep hike up an informal social trail that heads up to the flume and the parking area.
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Last Updated: 2017-11-11 02:29:17