Fall on the Feather

For California creekboaters, the fall release on the South Fork Feather is good until the last drop

Film and photos by Darin McQuoid

Water rushes in the South Fork Feather River every fall. All summer long Little Grass Valley Reservoir stays full of water thanks to a contract between dam operators and homeowners.

Jay Lynn - Sunrise. Photo: McQuoid

Jay Lynn – Sunrise. Photo: McQuoid

As temperatures cool off and precipitation is (hopefully) imminent, the lake is lowered to make room for incoming water.

Stars over Little Grass Valley Reservoir. Photo: McQuoid

Stars over Little Grass Valley Reservoir. Photo: McQuoid

For eight miles water cascades through remote canyons and fall colors until it’s impounded by a diversion dam that puts the water back to work.

Johnny Chase and Gavin Reiser talk about lines. Photo: McQuoid

Johnny Chase and Gavin Reiser talk about lines. Photo: McQuoid

Chris Tulley heads into the gorge. Photo: McQuoid

Chris Tulley heads into the gorge. Photo: McQuoid

Justin Patt Jason Hale and Thomas Moore talk about lines. Photo: McQuoid

Justin Patt Jason Hale and Thomas Moore talk about lines. Photo: McQuoid

For two to six weeks it’s a mecca for paddlers with fantastic camping, predictable all-day flows and unpredictable weather. As California’s last reliable release ends it’s with strange mix of joy for how good the paddling has been with melancholy over the wait for precipitation.

ay Lynn - Justin Patt - Cyrus Luciano - Johnny Chase - Sara James. Photo: McQuoid

Jay Lynn – Justin Patt – Cyrus Luciano – Johnny Chase – Sara James. Photo: McQuoid

— Check out more of McQuoid’s photography, another edit from the High Sierra, and see his latest gear reviews for C&K, including rundowns of seven sleeping pads put to the test, as well as seven sleeping bags.