The Magic Mile (Kings River, past Chickaloon) is a mile-long section of the river through large boulders deposited in a landslide. The boulders range from washing machine to cottage sized. The river winds between boulders, choking down to narrow slots and short water falls. Access was pretty easy, an eight-mile hike after Timmy Johnson forced his truck as far up the ATV trails as possible while I was bounced around in the back trying to find some comfort on the pile of gear. It started to snow as we hit the water. It was early enough in the season (mid-October) that I didn’t have gloves in my pack and my hands were almost worthless when we got to the rapids. I was pretty nervous about getting in over my head, literally, with limited reaction-time. The first rapid had sieves (suction holes in the gaps between the large boulders- the most dangerous feature we face). Timmy walked around the first rapid with sieves. I’ve learned from paddling with Tim that he always does the right thing- if he walks around, I should walk around. But Roman and Brad (Meiklejohn) and I were so pumped up for The Magic Mile, largely because it was a run the kayakers told us was not doable in a packraft (granted, we went at very low water levels, but still, only a week after a group of kayakers ran it). Roman ran the rapids no problem, Brad and I followed suit.
The rest of The Magic Mile was complete euphoria- a mix of feeling strong and able, rapids that were fun and dynamic, and loving the snow falling on the granite boulders and in the blue-green pools below each rapid. Conditions like that make me glow- I just feel complete or powerful or invincible or something. It is hard to describe. I didn’t want it to end. I think I swam once and rolled once. The water was juicy and my blood was pumping hard enough to warm my hands completely. We all had big smiles after clearing the last rapid. I just remember not wanting to be done. A lot of the rapids were smooth tongues that pushed you through- harmless, graceful, beautiful.