Yuba River Scuttle – Emerald Pools to Washington City, CA

There is an adventure that I had been thinking of doing for a long time, but had never actually done.

I call this adventure the Yuba River Scuttle.

It goes from the Emerald Pools in Northern California to a little town called Washington City, CA. I’m not aware of anyone who has done this. Before we did it, I had never heard of anyone else doing it.

What is a River Scuttle

Nevada County, California, USA: Yuba River
Yuba River – Taken in 2011

A river scuttle is a journey in which you carry nothing but a waterproof bag. The scuttler carries that bag on their arm or shoulder. They use it as a floating device when swimming through challenging spots.

The idea is that you are 100% prepared to be aquatic. You are carrying everything you need to camp for a day or two in a waterproof bag. I’m guessing that it’s an 11 mile trip based on the calculation below.

Emerald Pools to Washington City, California
My rough estimate is 10.95 miles worth of river scuttling. The start is on the right. The end where the red marker is.

Waterproof bags will need to have space for warm cloths, a hammock, some food and a bit of water. I’m guessing this is a 2 day trip.

River Scuttle Statistics

  • Start altitude of 4,500 feet at the Emerald Pools
  • End altitude of 2,589 feet in Washington City, CA
  • Altitude change of 1,911 feet
  • Descent rate of 174 feet per mile

The elevation drop is about the same as the height of the second tallest building in the world.

We are started on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m.

More River Scuttle Maps

The above map is a line drawn using an elevation mapping tool. The bar chart below represents the elevation change related to the image above marked with the red line.

North Fork of Yuba River Large Sized Topography Map

Notes on the Adventure

The Yuba River Scuttle is challenging.

Everyone in our group was enthusiastically athletic. Despite that, we were all exhausted by the end of the adventure. Our feet were sore, the bags became heavier, and the river started feeling colder. People started making mistakes that led to uncontrolled slides. It was getting dangerous.

River scuttling is extremely slow. I’d guess we cover between .15 and .25 miles an hour. Swimming is slow. Rock climbing is slower. My estimate of eleven miles in 2 days was misguided at best.

Yuba river scuttling is also uncomfortably cold. In August, when the river is at it’s lowest and the day is at it’s hottest, the cold water takes the scuttler’s breath away.

There is a road that runs along the river for the last 4-5 miles. If it weren’t for that road, we would have had to camp another night on the river.
Camping on the river is very cold. The hammocks are not great for keeping a person warm. V said something of note, “I’m never sleeping in a hammock again.”

The river is stunningly beautiful. Over and over the beauty of the river astonished us. Towards the end, I would come upon another beautiful waterfall and think to myself, ‘Ugh, do we have to swim it?’

The journey was a constant process of problem-solving. There is a new beautiful waterfall cavern. How are we getting around it? Phew, I don’t want to swim in the shadows. Can we make the climb to get around it? That kind of thing was the name of the game.

It was genuinely fun. It was awful challenging. It was legitimately dangerous. If I were to do it again, I would give myself 3-4 days.

Brent Rose: Inside the Life of a Location Independent Tech Journalist

Brent Rose on Love Affair Travel with Ian Robinson
Courtesy of Gizmodo Australia

Wish your road trips never ended? For Brent Rose, they don’t.

Brent Rose is a freelance technology journalist who has spent the last 17 months living out of a van and road tripping around the United States. For Brent, what started as a year-long road trip has turned into an open-ended lifestyle.

Brent tells us about how he decided to start his van life, how he equipped his van to be able to work from anywhere, and what his nomadic life is like. He also gives us some pointers and great stories and information about his career as a tech journalist.

“I’ve been on the road for the last 17 months now. I’ve put about 35,000 miles on the thing. It was originally going to be about a year-long thing, and now I don’t know how or where to stop. I don’t know if I want to stop – so the adventure continues.” – Brent Rose

Travel Topics:

  • Why Brent decided to convert to van life [5:27]
  • What to look for in a vehicle for long term travel [8:19]
  • How to convert a van to fit your lifestyle [8:47]
  • How to get into tech journalism [10:18]
  • What is Gizmodo? [11:43]
  • What it means to be a good writer [13:39]
  • The transition from office life to van life [24:43]
  • How Brent’s location independence influences his professional output [27:03]
  • Kayaking from Cuba to Florida [28:47]
  • Benefits of a press trip [37:29]
  • Making that important decision… what do you write about?! [38:45]
  • Most memorable moments on the road [43:13]
  • How a pearl in an oyster can lead to a great pick-up line [45:35]

Brent Rose Talking Points:

Website | Instagram |  Facebook | Twitter

“I love the freedom it affords me.” – Brent Rose

Music Credit:

Take Action:

Brent drives his van on a constant road trip to balance work with adventure. What can you do to bring more adventure into your everyday life?

Jake Heilbrunn: Off The Beaten Trail

Jake Heilbrunn on Love Affair Travel with Ian Robinson
Courtesy of Jake Heilbrunn

Have you struggled with making your dreams a reality? Do you feel stressed out trying to find a compromise?

When Jake Heilbrunn realized his passions and his life were not aligned, he left for Central America to help find fulfillment and discover his purpose. What he found was an incredible community of people, a beautiful expansive world, and the determination to bring his visions to life.

Today we’ll be talking about traveling in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, writing his book Off The Beaten Trail, holistic healing, and the many amazing people he encountered on his journey.

“I was living a disconnect. What I really wanted to be doing, traveling and experiencing other ways of life and volunteering, was not what I was doing.” – Jake Heilbrunn

Travel Topics:

  • How Jake went to Guatemala to teach English and soccer [4:30]
  • Need to make friends and don’t know the local language? Carry a soccer ball [6:38]
  • When he was attacked by ‘dinosaurs in Jurassic Park’ [12:19]
  • How a child left for dead became an incredible local saint [15:23]
  • Why ditching your travel plan can have amazing results [19:50]
  • How Jake’s vision of writing his book happened with a shaman [21:43]
  • Does Baskin-Robbins get their flavors from cacao plants? [24:52]
  • You tend to meet and attract certain people when you travel alone [29:08]
  • What a spiritual community did for Jake’s mind and body [33:25]
  • How one town’s diet of fruit and vegetables helped Jake’s skin problems [37:36]
  • What Jake loved most about the places he stayed and people he met [40:16]
  • How writing a book is “like starting a business” [41:53]
  • Jake’s daily writing routine, and how he made his book stand out [43:03]
  • Writing a book? Allow yourself twice to three times as much time to do it [45:53]

Jake Heilbrunn Talking Points:

Website | Eyes Fully Open | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Music Credit:

Take Action:

Jake’s time in Central America encouraged him to pursue his passion. What would you need to do to follow yours?

Hiking Over the Andes and Into the Amazon with Pierre Heistein

He moved from South Africa to Argentina to learn Spanish.

This was only the beginning.

After losing almost everything, he found comfort in that place.

He also found adventure along the way.

Welcome the African Adventurer Economist, Pierre Heistein.

“It’s not something you aim to learn, it’s something you stumble across.” – Pierre Heistein (Tweet It)

Travel Topics:

  • On the pace of partying in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • How finding a remote Argentine town to write a thesis led to finding a love and a new home
  • How an economist went from writing a thesis to selling Chinese t-shirts on the streets of Argentina
  • How to get the cheapest land in the world in Argentina
  • Having a girlfriend is a great way to learn another language? Try learning to sell
  • What there is to be gained from having everything in life stripped away and finding oneself still producing and enjoying life
  • How one’s perception of risk and possibility can change when experiencing a different culture
  • Strategies for seeing the most dramatic aspects of mountain ranges
  • His journey Hiking Over the Andes
  • Stories of majestic multicolored Andean lakes
  • The value in “not throwing yourself at the world.”

Lovely Links:

Music Credit:

  • A Guy Named Bob Dylan and his song, Outlaw Blues

Take Action:

If Luke and Pierre were standing in front of you with meager backpacks ready to head into the mountains, would you join them?