We ran the Middle Bar Run on the Mokelumne River in March, 1998. It was great!
We felt a real rush as we peeled out into the current after S-turn and
headed downriver because we were about to see a part of the Mokelumne that
only a handful of paddlers had ever seen, and that EBMUD really didn't
want us to see. The only run information we had was a vague description
that the river was "basically class II." It is not often that you get to
do a run that feels like a first descent as a novice! Bridge Rapid,
through the remnants of an old structure follows directly after the normal
takeout for the Electra Run on the Mokelumne, and shortly after, we passed
by the Highway 49 road bridge.
I'd done Toilet Bowl before, but we stopped to scout. The river was
running about 2,500 cfs (we had chosen a winter run to avoid cops), and
though it looked impressive, there was a clean line on the right. I made
it through, but I got funneled further left than I intended and needed
a strong brace. My "partner in crime" portaged and we soon headed off into
the unknown. There was a series of about 4 good class II rapids after that.
Some of them were quite interesting at 2500 cfs.
The river between the rapids were full of waves to play on and lots
of places to practice much like the first mile of the Electra. After about
1.5 miles, the river flattened out the rest of the way to Middle Bar Bridge.
The scenery was absolutely stunning - far better than the Electra. The
sun came out and shone on the dark clouds to the east and the oak hillsides
which were brimming with blooming wildflowers.
We couldn't help but noticing the terracing created by the cattle grazing
on this "Protected Watershed" though. We had some friends volunteer to
give us a commando take-out at the bridge (Amador Side). There is a gate
on Middle Bar Road which is sometimes locked, but locals usually knock
it down. The road down to the bridge (which is a registered California
Historic Site) on the Caleveras side is open and usually not patrolled
for kayakers so this may be a safer side if you need to leave a shuttle
vehicle. I really recommend this run, it is such a shame that access to
this river is such hassle. When we took out, we climbed directly up the
concrete bridge abutment to the road and never set foot on EBMUD property.
Presumably we could not have been cited for tresspass since the only land
we touched was below the mean high water mark, but I would not put anything
past EBMUD or the Amador Sheriff who gets paid $180,000 by EBMUD to patrol
for kayakers/fishermen/hikers/hunters etc."