About Carson Falls
The Forks of the Kern truly has it all, ending with a Class V waterfall, as you are just 0.7 miles upstream of Johnsondale Bridge, the finish line for the run. This rapid is no joke though and flips many rafts, so scouting is highly recommended. The drop itself isn’t the only feature though, as immediately below the falls, “The Thing” is lurking which at medium and high flows is a no joke smokin’ big hole.
How to run Carson Falls
The leadup to the falls is class III, but it is very important to run it cleanly. The normal run starts in the middle of the river and then cuts left to avoid several holes in the leadup to the main drop. At flows above 2,500 CFS, it is possible to sneak the entire approach on river right. There is an eddy just above the final drop on river right that it is possible to catch to set up safety and do a last-minute scout, however, the left, further upstream scout is more common.
For the main event, a typical kayaking line is on the far right side of the drop. For rafts, at flows above 800 CFS, it is best to go over the middle of the drop with strong right to left momentum. There is a rock on the left side of the main drop, and a normal line will often get the left tube of a raft as close to as possible the right side of the boulder while going over the final drop. It is possible to set safety downstream on either side of the rapid. It is crucial that paddlers start to forward paddle as soon as you hit the water after the drop to avoid getting tube sucked back into the hole.
At flows above 2,000 CFS a large hole called “The Thing” emerges on river right, which is a large hole just downstream of the main drop. This feature flips more boats than the falls itself at high water so getting leftward momentum away from The Thing is crucial.