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By Lon Jester and Andy Orpiglia

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.

Swift current passes underneath the Hwy 49 Bridge.  "Toiletbowl Rapid" makes Lon reconsider whether this is a class II+

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.

Lon is very "relieved" after successfully running "Toilet Bowl"         One of the class II play spots below Toilet Bowl

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.

Another Class II+ Rapid  (not as woody as it looks)                        More pretty scenery along the Middle Bar Run 
Andy paddles through the Mokelumnes beautiful clear water   The sun came out in the west for this dramatic shot of Lon

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."

Evidence of Cattle Grazing is obvious here in EBMUDs "Protected Watershed"     Click for an access diagram!
Andy lifts his boat directly up the concrete abutment with his feet on accessible land below the high water mark to the waiting arms of accomplice Flynn Byers who is standing on public property on the road.  The barbed wire fence in the background fences off EBMUD land (they claim there is no easement alongside the road), and crossing there could be considered trespassing (besides, who wants to rip their drysuit?).  Lon and Andy did not trespass at all since at no time did they touch land belonging to EBMUD.