|Preparing to hike on the next day - Photo: Daniel Egger|
Our plan was to hike in on Tuesday since I had a flight to catch on Saturday. This would allow for one day of waiting above Cherry Bomb for the flow to drop in. A week before, during our decent of West Cherry, UCC had still been ridiculously high. But the weather had changed. It had cooled down significantly and the gage at the Toulomne, Hetchy inflow, had dropped to 650cfs.
We started our hike at 6 o'clock in the morning. The weather had cooled down again and we had an overcast sky. This looked very promising for the flow so everybody was in a good mood at the start. This changed quickly. Hiking with a loaded boat on your shoulders just sucks. It's not too bad for the legs, but everybody's shoulders started to hurt after minutes. You start counting your steps (doesn't help), or you you start a dialog going in your head: "This can't be worth it - YES IT IS - YOU KNOW THE PICTURES! - The flow will be too high - NO, IT WILL BE PERFECT! - I can't go on, my shoulders hurt so bad - SHUT UP AND WALK, PUNK!!" Just don't listen to your inner voice that tells you to quit walking and wait for the right rhythm to kick in...
|One of many breaks on the hike - Photo: Reiner Glanz|
|First view of Cherry Bomb Gorge|
|Reiner and Robert enjoy a nap at the spring.|
We took a lot of breaks. After one third of the distance there's a nice view of Cherry Bomb Gorge, after three quarters there's a spring (good place for a long break). After the spring the hardest part is almost done. The remaining part of the hike goes downhill. Once the river comes into sight there's a last downhill climb that really sucks (watch your step or you might fall onto your nose).
|Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Diane Gaydos on the very last part of the hike - Photo: Reiner Glanz|
|That's how your feet look like after not washing them before putting on socks. - Photo Reiner Glanz|
It's a great feeling to let the boat fall down to the ground and you know that you won't have to carry it any further. It's even a better feeling if you are at the put-in of one of the best runs in the world and the waterlevel seems to be perfect! After a little break we put on our gear and started our decent of Upper Cherry Creek. We wanted to get away from the mosquitoes so we ran the first couple of slides and set up camp one.
|Matthi enjoys the first set of slides.|
|Matthi finishes up the slide.|
We spend a cold night on the granite slabs and were waken up by the warmth of the sun the next day. The level had dropped a little over night. We had some breakfast and put on. The first part consists of endless low angle slides. Gliding through a beautiful granite valley, we now knew that the flow was perfect. If you run those slides without contact you probably have too much water. If you have to push a lot to get through you have low water. We where somewhere in between for a good medium flow.
|Enjoying the evening - Photo: Reiner Glanz|
|Breakfast! - Photo: Reiner Glanz|
|Robert and Reiner enjoy the amazing setting. The first part of Upper Cherry features many easy low angle slides.|
|Matthias Zeiner runs one of many fun slides above "Class 4 Gorge"|
We quickly made our way to the first steeper section. Up to the Island Camp right before Cherry Bomb, the creek offers high quality whitewater with only a few manky rapids. (An ugly slot and West Coast Gorilla). Arriving at the point of (almost) no return above Cherry Bomb we decided to continue going without scouting the gorge. We did portage on drop right above entry gorge, and as it turned out - portaging there without 5.10s might be much more dangerous than running it. (Take care of slippery slabs!!!)
Entry gorge went well and we soon found us crossing the big pool right above Cherry Bomb Falls. Cherry Bomb is an intimidating place. For those kind of people who get confused with left and right all the time it's even worse. Left - left - middle - right - middle - left. Don't forget that, because scouting is impossible. Cherry Bomb Falls went well for all of us and nobody had problems to get through the weir, a little drop right below that looks like a low head dam. Scary. Going down the following drops it's easy to forget where you are. Left - left - middle - right - damn, where am I!? A part of the group had some little affairs in the gorge but luckily nothing too bad.
|Diane Gaydos stomps Cherry Bomb - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Myself following Diane into the perfect gorge - Photo: Daniel Egger|
After Cherry Bomb you slide down Jedi Slide and drop into the beautiful Teacups. Some of the group did a second lap and after some time we continued on.
|Enjoying Teacups - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Nice! - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Reiner doing laps on Teacups - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Never forget to set safety. ;) - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|The group is floating by flintstone camp - Photo: Reiner Glanz|
At this point some of us were physically and emotionally drained and decided to portage Double Pothole falls. Only Diane and Reiner ran this beautiful two teared waterfall that drops right into our camp two. (river right, 20 meters up the shore)
|Reiner on "Perfect 20" (with "Groove Tube" in the background) - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Diane on the same drop - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Diane shows us how it's done on Double Pothole - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Reiner finishing up Douple Pothole falls - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Camp two. This is a really nice campspot just below Double Pothole. Photo: Reiner Glanz|
|Photo: Reiner Glanz|
The third day on Upper Cherry starts with a bang. Waterfall Ally consists of multiple drops with not much room for error. The fourth drop has a nasty pothole on the right (Fatal accident some time ago, so take care!). Shortly later you arrive at Kiwi in a Pocket. We decided to portage Kiwi in a Pocket and once you portage this one, most people also portage the next waterfall - Dead Bear.
|Diane and Reiner in Waterfall Alley - Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Photo: Daniel Egger|
|Photo: Daniel Egger|
From this point on it's not very far to the confluence with West Cherry. There are some nice slides on the way, two or three manky ones too. At the confluence we realized how much more water UCC had a week earlier when we did West Cherry. At the lower level, Redrock gorge offered some really nice slides. We continued on, portaged one more rapid in the last gorge and finally made it into Cherry lake.
|Daniel Egger Photo: Reiner Glanz|
Paddling out over the lake, we realized how lucky we had been. Catching Upper Cherry at a perfect flow was a dream coming true for us.
After talking to other people we realized that Upper Cherry had an even shorter flow window this year than usual. Darin, Rok and Yoshi, who had hiked in two days before us had to walk long sections because they had too much water. The people who hiked in two days after us already had really low water. Three days after us it was done.
For the last week decisions had to be made. After another night at Daniels and Dianes house we drove to San Franciso to do some shopping, sightseeing and dropping Harald of at the airport. The rest of the group hit the road up north.
Little White Salmon was waiting. To be continued...
|Harald had to leave after Upper Cherry, so we decided to go to San Francisco for some shopping and dropping him of at the airport.|
|We were looking for the steepest road in San Francisco. This might be the one.|
|And its a dead end!|
|Streets of San Francisco|
|Somewhere close to England on Harrys way home.|
Thanks to Alpin Action and Stohlquist for the support.