Whitewater Kayaking Journal: Dozens of free kayak movies and whitewater photos documenting daily progress of actor
preparing for role in the film Savage Snow. From absolute beginner on Paddle Day 1 to advanced big water paddler.
PADDLE DAY 41 - 2nd Day Kayaking the American River Chili Bar Run
American River Chili Bar Run 1
American River Chili Bar Run 2 American River Chili Bar Run 3 American River Chili Bar Run 4 American River Chili Bar Run 5

Second Day on the American River's Chili Bar Run
Maya Surf Wave, First Threat Playhole, & Running the Double Trouble Chute

The #5 image in this Double Trouble Chute sequence is not as bad as it looks. When I first saw the photo, it scared me because I thought I may have been flipping over with my face exposed to the rocks. Taking a second look I was relieved to discover I was already tucked in a protective position with the PFD protecting my back and the helmet protecting the back of my head. Roll over the small #5 image to view the larger version with paddle position marked.
(more on Double Trouble Chute in text below)

1. Taking a peek. - 2. We're committed now. - 3. Enjoying the ride. - 4. Almost made it. - 5. Oopsie.
Roll over small corner images to view larger versions. (Dial-up visitors may need to wait a few seconds for loading.)

I met Ryan after his short morning shift at The River Store. The two of us paddled down the Chili Bar run again today. After yesterday's injured paddler evacuation, I was eager to play in some of the features we bypassed before.

The Maya Wave... making room for a raft.
A longer uninterrupted ride on the Maya Wave.

The Maya Wave is a very consistent and stable wave found early in the Chili Bar run. It is an excellent wave for practicing surfing skills. It is friendly, easy to stay on, and it is easily accessible from an eddy in the middle of the river.

"First Threat Silhouette" This is one of my favorite kayaking images.

The real action is a little further downstream in the First Threat playhole.
I wanted to get a video clip of me thrashing around in the First Threat hole, but I gave the camera to Ryan with it unintentionally set in photo mode. He grabbed the great silhouette image above and now I'm glad I made the "mode setting" mistake.

Next in line. My turn again to enter First Threat.
Area overview. (Watch guy in green boat get walloped.)
Local paddler Mike Fentress.
Mike taking control in the First Threat playhole.
Local paddler Mike Fentress paddles with authority in First Threat. Click on the image above to watch an expert boater navigate the hole. I aspire to reach such a level of calm control in river playholes.

After a good long play session in First Threat, Ryan and I head downstream to deal with Troublemaker Rapid again. I am eager to redeem myself with an "upright" run through Troublemaker this time, but Ryan wants to run the Double Trouble Chute next to Troublemaker Rapid. I decide to run it with him because this may be my last day on the American River this season. I want to take a stab at the more difficult chute.

Double Trouble Chute
It is pretty much a straight shot and I was able to take a look at it from across the river when I scouted Troublemaker Rapid yesterday. Double Trouble is not frequently run so I was unable to watch any other boaters go down the chute. Most people take the left passage through Troublemaker.

The rock wall at Double Trouble is said to be undercut and I have found references online to people getting held under for a minute or more at this spot. It is not a good place to exit your boat.
I did not come across any reports of deaths in this feature.

There are a lot of spectators around Troublemaker and Double Trouble. They are the last big features of the Chili Bar run and many people take out at this point. There is also a campground and restaurant here by the river.

I followed Ryan's line through the chute. We were both flipped, but I was also thrown up and over against the rock face. As you can see in the photo sequence at the top of this page, my boat was pushed quite high vertically by the churning water and big hole at the base of the chute.
Be sure to roll your mouse over the small #2 image at the top of this page to view my amusing expression after I have passed the point of no return in the Double Trouble Chute.
Also in the larger #5 image, I marked the paddle to illustrate what body position I was in as I was thrown. It looked as if my body might be submerged behind the boat when I first looked at the photo.

Although I was in a good position to protect myself as I was thrown towards the rock wall, it could have been a less pleasant ordeal if the boat had turned in the opposite direction against the wall..

I did not impact with my body against the rocks, but the right side of my boat was banged up against the rock face as I went upside down. Fortunately my strong roll is on my left side and I was able to roll the boat and get out of trouble.

But if the left side of the boat had been thrown against the wall, it could have been somewhat disconcerting. I am still not comfortable with an off-side (right side) roll in a combat situation. I might have flushed away from the wall and been able to roll on my strong side, but I am glad my strong side was already free and clear this time so I could roll up promptly.
NOTE: The base of Double Trouble Chute can be very sticky at lower water as Ryan found out in my next Paddle Day Journal Entry. There is a video sequence of his low water trapped predicament on Paddle Day 42.
Ultimately, as I have mentioned in previous entries, learning to roll with competence on both sides is a mandatory skill objective in my opinion. Especially if I continue my progression into more difficult water.
-Dan

SOUTH FORK AMERICAN RIVER - BOATING RESOURCES & INFORMATION
The River Store (A great little shop serving the American River paddling community.)
American River - 1. Rapid Descriptions & Photos (Detailed rapid descriptions along with photos.)
American River - 2. Rapid Descriptions & Map (This county link seems to duplicate copyrighted descriptions from site above, presumably with permission, but presents them in a more streamlined fashion. No photos on this page, but the streamlined presentation and nice map illustration make it worth visiting as well.)
American River - 3. Rapid Descriptions Alternate (Yet another detailed information page, covering slightly different details of the run than the previous two links. Photos and a different map are also viewable on this page.)
White Water Cafe (Restaurant at Troublemaker Rapid)
American River Resort (Campground at Troublemaker Rapid)
Coloma Valley (Regional Information)

Click Paddle Day 42 for even more pictures and video from the Chili Bar run.
On my way home to Colorado, after my trip to China, I made another detour back to California's American River for one last run.
I got some really good images and video of the First Threat playhole on Paddle Day 42.
Ryan started getting aggressive during the few weeks I was away.
He has started learning how to loop (flip) in the hole.

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