May 4, 2009

Tiger Creek IV-V

Tiger Creek is a small tributary of the Mokelumne River. It's so small that it has avoided any exploration, perhaps to the benefit of all parties involved. We left the greater Sacramento area with no intention of running Tiger Creek. Instead, our sights were set on Panther Creek, run by Jared Nocetti and others at low flows. If one thing was certain about our day, it was that flows were not low. American Whitewater has done a lot of work with PG&E on the Mokelumne, and there should be some great summer releases...and nice parking!

Leaving one vehicle at the Tiger Creek powerhouse we zipped up the dirt road to Panther Creek, stopping to look at flows before reaching put in.

Jared Nocetti and Scott Ligare

One thing was quickly apparent about Panther Creek, it wasn't low. If only there was a pool at the bottom....

Unfortunately Panther Creek was way too high, and driving back down we debated on our options, the more well known Tiger Creek run of the Mokelumne, or if it was high enough, checking out Tiger Creek into the Mokelumne. Exploration's draw couldn't be ignored, and soon enough we slid into out boats into the still paltry flow of Tiger Creek.

Jared Nocetti

We all expected to be making quite a few portages on this micro creek, but we certainly didn't expect to be portaging over old motorcycles in this deep canyon! In correlation with it's namesake, the creek crept down the mountainside, before pouncing on us with a powerful package of gradient.

Maybe this won't be so bad after all, we thought as Scott Ligare ran the first bedrock drop.

The gradient certainly was steep, the canyon deep and while wood was present, we made quick work of a portage or two and reaped the benefits with more bedrock drops, in a very Oregonian setting.

Jared Nocetti in the verdant Tiger Creek.

We all exchanged comments about the surprising quality of the creek, that if not exactly smooth California granite, was at least bedrock. Pushing through more rapids, the gradient continued to pick up as the river rounded a corner.

Scott Ligare enjoys a better drop on Tiger Creek.

Coming around the bend, we saw the eye of the tiger, as the creek started down a steep series of bedrock drops, tragically dropping into a pile of boulders at the bottom. The whole cascade series dropped about  seventy feet from top to bottom, but we couldn't see a way to pick off any drop in particular and started a long portage up and down  the steep, slippery right bank.

The portage took us about twenty to thirty minutes, and ended in a large obnoxious blackberry patch, where we were able to put on to some steep, very Nor-Cal styled mank, similar to the notorious Bridge Creek, minus the clean waterfalls and slides. Many more wood portages abounded, light seemed to be fading deep in the canyon, and we accordingly picked up the pace when the river allowed.

There was still a clean drop or two in the lower section, Jared

The last mile of Tiger Creek was one long boulder garden, with the obligatory bit of log ducking here and there. The little creek fed right into a low bridge at Tiger Creek powerhouse, and we were forced to exit through the most accessible route we could find through the proliferate blackberry patches.

The best thing about Tiger Creek? Exploring something new is always worthwhile, and we kept up good morale the whole way down, but were more than happy to take out. We enjoyed the adventure of the day, but I would not recommend Tiger Creek.

Just in case you didn't know where to do it....

1 comment:

Katherine said...

Beautiful photos and interesting post. We'd love to have hi-res versions to use in our Mokelumne conservation efforts. We need to complete the removal of a dam on E Panther Creek and secure Wild and Scenic designation for the river itself. If you're willing to share pix with permission to use, please send to Thanks much.

Katherine Evatt
Foothill Conservancy