Redding NFS Campground
April 3-5, 2015
Myself and 20-21 other members of the Dallas Downriver Club made our annual Easter pilgrimage to the mighty Mulberry river to play in the whitewater. I arrived late Thursday afternoon and got my hammock and tarp up and got ready for the early departure the next morning. My oldest son Alec arrived about 11:30 Thursday night from OSU.
I slept in until 6am and heated breakfast burritos in my Dutch Oven. After breakfast Alec and I got in a good 40 minute trail run. By 8:30am we ran our shuttle vehicles down to our take out at Campbell’s cemetery. Our put in was the Redding campground. The river was down from all the rain the week before so the run from Wolf Pen to Redding was out. About 45 min after we put on a cool front blew through with a brief rain then stiff north winds. We were pretty protected down in the river but did encounter periodic gusts. The river was still at a good level to enjoy the rapids and play with my Jackson Zen. I managed to paddle out front of the group and eddy out to snap pictures of the group coming through. I think we only had one swimmer for the day. We all were off the river by 3pm and back at camp for some good drink, food and company. I made Dutch Oven Frito Pie with healthy doses of sharp cheddar and red onion layered in with the chili and Fritos. Just before dark I noticed my trailer sitting a bit odd. I had five kayaks on there with total load of about 300lbs, well under the 450lb rating for the trailer. We had heard a strange noise when coming back down the dirt road from Campbell’s. After a close inspection I found the shock mount on one side to be cracked half way through and the shock turned at an angle. Well, that was it for my trailer for the weekend. We had to get all the kayaks off and find other trailer and vehicles to carry them for the next day. I was concerned about making it back to Plano with my trailer even with zero load on it. I knew if I could get it back then no big deal I could have it welded up in less than an hour.
Saturday we decided to run the lower stretch of river from Campbell’s down to Mill Creek. It was a brisk 34 degree morning but I had an excellent fire with burritos for breakfast. After downing my breakfast I got in a quick 20 minute trail run. This is a very long shuttle but we still managed to be on the river by 11am. This part still had good water and lots of fun. I was a bit tired from my 11 mile paddle in my playboat from the day prior so I elected to paddle my OK prowler 15. This allowed me to really get out front and snap some excellent shots of people coming through and a couple of swimmers also. The day was pleasant with full sun and warming quickly. I was pleasantly surprised that we managed to keep the group together in a reasonable procession with 21 boats on the river. As we were coming through one rapid I saw the woman in front of me get pushed up on a rock and as I came by she went over. I got turned and pulled up in the current to her and she came up and was gasping from her cold water immersion. I got her to grab my boat then paddle her out of the rest of the rapid as it was pushing her toward two larger rocks with current swirling and a good place to get trapped in. I got her and her boat to the other side and she started work emptying her boat while I went to find the paddle. I had seen it floating at the rock but did not see it come out of the rapid. I crawled up on top of the rocks to look down and see if I could find it submerged or behind one of the rock. Several other came along and looked downstream, no luck. I figured it got pulled under and was beneath one of the truck sized boulders. We all paddled downstream about a quarter of a mile and pulled out on a gravel bar for lunch. The warm sun on the rocks and lunch really felt good. I had a spare paddle along so I gave it to the woman. After lunch everyone peeled off and I decided to go upstream and take a look just in case that paddle had come loose and was sitting in an eddy. Yep, sure enough there it was I just paddled up and grabbed it, a $250 Werner paddle. I caught up with the woman and asked her if she wanted to trade. She was grateful. We had one more swimmer for the day but it was uneventful, just get out empty the boat and climb back on and paddle. We were all off the river by about 4pm and back to camp by 5:30.
Saturday night was potluck and I cooked a Dutch Oven King Ranch Chicken. This was my first with this recipe and it was gone in a flash. I got one helping. That was ok as there were many other dishes and Dutch Oven desserts. After dinner we went to one fellows camp and set up a TV on a truck bed with a computer, and bit of wine, beer, and Jim Bean then started viewing the videos and my pictures from the past two days. I took 209 shots on the river. The pictures captured the expressions peoples face coming through the rapids and some are priceless.
Here are a quite a few of the pictures.
Also known as Sir Swimsalot
Watch out for that rock
Turning a SOAR
Find the Kayak
Madam Smiles A Lot
My Show off Son
I can do that too
I can make it
Inspecting the bottom of the river
A very good white water paddler
Smoke on the water