Adventure Travel


by John Hart 

(Click on any image for a larger version and a description)


The Seven Teacups is a short canyon in the Eastern Sierras of Southern California, a couple hundred miles north of LA and about 10 miles north of Kernville.  It is a stunt kayak route done by extremely adventurous practitioners of that sport in periods of heavy runoff.  Later in the season, in lower water, it is a spectacular gorge to descend, not only for its beauty, but for the varied styles and techniques used to get through:  jumps, water-slides, rock-slides, raps, swimming through arches, etc.  Rich Carlson of the American Canyoneering Association organized a canyoneering rendezvous here in mid-July.  There was time to practice some swift-water techniques in the Kern river, but the highlight was descending The Teacups.  This trip was led by local outdoor enthusiasts Kevin and Genevieve who established the route.  The nine of us who went had a fabulous time.  Below are pictures and a few tales.


Dry Meadow Creek cuts through the north wall of the Kern river in a marvelous cascade.  Dropping several hundred feet in a short distance, the upper section features a set of seven (or more if you count the little ones to the sides) interconnected potholes that can be run by kayakers in big water.  Below these 7 large pools are some relatively big drops that cannot be boated.  This is an ideal venue for canyoneering, in which many different techniques can be used to negotiate the obstacles.  Good Fun!





Since Kevin had recently been down and checked the big potholes for obstacles, we had a great time making carefree leaps-of-faith at several drops.  Only a few meters (3, to maybe 6), but enough to get your attention and illustrate different styles:



Some potholes were too shallow to jump, or the drop was absurd, or the would-be landing was full of rocks.  There were four short raps, spectacular nonetheless:



Here was a new one on me.  Although I had slid down some bare-rock chutes into potholes before (Egypt 3 being one place), the angle of descent and speed of entry was never like this!   Some of the pothole top-lips were slippery and too narrow to walk out or stand on.  You couldn't get good footing for a well controlled long-jump (to clear the ledge below).  Solution = crawl/climb out and slide down the rock-face. 



Rich was kind enough to share his experience and boldness in such activities as jumping, floating though class III rapids, setting up and making guided white-water crossings, etc.  The Kern river was ideal:  not too cold, pretty frothy, and with such classic features as "the whirlpool of death".


A Neat Rendezvous.  Many Folks Vowed to Return.

Prologue:  At about 1pm on Sunday July 21, 2002, the day the rendezvous ended, a massive forest fire was ignited about 3 miles SW of the Seven Teacups near McNally's Store.  Purportedly, high speed canyon drainage winds (which are the norm in the afternoon) swept embers out of an illegal fire that was being used to cook hot dogs.  100+ degrees out, windy, dry as could be, why the weiners??  I saw the fire just after it started, with a big plume of smoke about 1 mile down the road from the Seven T's trailhead.  The plume was huge, rising up to the stratosphere, and generating its own cirrus and cumulus clouds.  The fire burned over 70,000 acres and came very close to some of the last remaining stands of 2000 year old giant sequoias.  That a stupid and careless act should create such destruction is appalling and sad.   In the future it is likely that rubble from the fire will get swept down into The Teacups, making the descent difficult and ugly.  Real Sad.