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Raps:6-8, max ↨115ft
Red Tape:No permit required
Shuttle:Required 30 min
9 Nov 2023
"great chilly day but we were all fine in 6/5/4 suits. A few obligatory jumps. 2 small slides. "special challenges" given the small traverse to one of
This is a very nice canyon on the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River, and having excellent rappels in the watercourse, a great opportunity for a guided rappel, jumps up to 40', and a few small slides, it is a top-tier route. It is described by some as having similarities to Jump Trip - but with crystal clear emerald water. It flows down solid granite, with many downclimbs and deep swimming pools. High clearance vehicles are required for reaching the parking areas; without would add about 5 miles of walking.
Take the Blue Canyon exit 155 off I-80, between Colfax and Truckee, CA. Turn right on Blue Canyon Road, and follow this to the end. It will turn to dirt and get high clearance a few miles from the end at 39.236333, -120.704483. This is where the named historic China Trail footpath heads down to the river, which you will return on. Leave a takeout vehicle here. Please drive very slowly (5mph) to respect dust for the locals that live there, and wave if you pass anybody.
Return to I-80 and head 2.5 miles east to the Emigrant Gap exit 158A. Take this and go right on Texas Hill Road for 4.5 miles to a dirt side road at 39.256283, -120.681000. This side road has a gate that historically hasn't been locked but as of August 2022 has been found locked with many signs of logging activity. If open, drive down this high clearance dirt road for .7 miles until the road becomes overgrown at a convenient turnaround spot at 39.247883, -120.684250. Leave a vehicle here and start hiking on the now overgrown road about a mile until the trees clear somewhat and you can clearly see the hillside across from you at 39.242800, -120.683100 -- leave the road at this point and drop down to the river and put on wetsuits.
Put on wetsuits at 39.24045, -120.68102 and start hiking downstream. You will encounter many downclimbs in the watercourse, some trickier than others, until you reach the first jump/rappel at 39.23530, -120.68356. The fun stuff consists of:
- R1: 30' bolt LDC or climb down crack RDC and jump 25' into pothole
- R2: 40' bolt RDC. There's an exposed traverse climb to access it, which you may want to protect for weaker climbers or in high flow. Climbing up above the direct traverse then down to the anchor is easier than directly across (although both are doable). This rap is often jumpable by scrambling down a few feet from the anchor (staying left of the crack you rappel into)
- R3: 35' bolt LDC at 39.23567, -120.68619, also is a very clean jump
- R4: 50' bolt LDC or sketchy downclimb, followed by several jumps around 10' (one of which can be slid in moderate flow)
- R5: 110' bolts LDC into hanging pool, cross the first pourover and look up for bolts on left
- R6: 100' bolts LDC. At moderate flows you can stay in the flow, but in higher flows set a guided rappel to keep passengers out of the falls (bring 150' rope for doing a guided rappel)
- R7: 75' off a bolt LDC. Ominous looking crack RDC so first person down should hold the rope to prevent the rappeller from veering off right into the danger zone. At the base of this you can downclimb 40' to a ledge and a final 12' jump (there is a large granite slab underwater on LDC so send somebody on rope first if you cannot clearly see this). If lower flow, the jump can be downclimbed easily. After the confluence with the NF American, continue downstream.
- R8: 50' LDC (or down climb and end with a 10' shallow 'L' jump). Shortly after this and close to the end you will reach a long swimming corridor named Pool of Cold Fire with vertical dark rock walls
Reach the junction with the historical China Trail right where a dry-ish creek comes in at 39.231667, -120.692283 and take this 1200' up back to the takeout vehicle. As you are standing at the bottom of the creek looking up it, you'll see where it immediately narrows and is up-climbable. However don't climb up these narrows -- the trail is just over to your left on the hillside as you're looking up at the narrows.
In the past the road to the China Trail exit has been gated by locals at the housing area that you drive through. The North Fork of the American River Alliance successfully sued in court to have access to this trail opened. If you should find it closed, please contact the NFARA, and also make a note on this page.
On the map page, you can see an orange fire road -- the scouting and first descent of this canyon was done from this road, but the gate at the start has been found opened and closed at random times. When Michelle first scouted the canyon, she found this gate open and drove through, but it was locked shut and she was trapped inside when she returned to exit several hours later! VERY luckily she found a route through the woods with her car. Therefore it is recommended to use the approach route on the other side of the valley as describe above.
Trip reports and media
First descended 11 Oct 2014 by Michelle, Toinette, Itaru, and Alwin. The name is short for Myotis, the genus of the common bat found in California. Michelle was floating on her back down the Pool of Cold Fire at dusk on the first descent, watching a bat make passes back and forth, back and forth, catching moths. This name is also in line with nearby Opho, which is short for the Family of snakes, due to a snake they saw during the first descent.
There is a pay campground named North Fork Campground near the start. This is fairly popular in the summer and is closed from Oct - May. The Onion Valley camp area a short ways down the road is free, open year round, and has picnic tables -- the camping there is more dispersed than having designated sites.
From North Fork Campground, there is a known waterfall shortly downstream that the campers often visit. There may be an upper section of Myo Canyon worth descending as well, as Google Earth shows a number of interesting features from the camp to the start of this lower section.