Sooo... today was the first day that the South Fork American flowed below 5,000 cfs all day long. We are at the technical stages on that river at around 4,500 cfs. From 3,500 cfs to 4,500 cfs, the South Fork American becomes a technical whitewater rafting trip requiring good paddling skills. You've got a good volume of water cascading over a boulder strewn corridor and that equals technical whitewater skills. Yes, I know, the media made a big deal out of the "big" flows last month, and the biggest danger at that time was hypothermia (brrrrr!), I much prefer the technical aspects of whitewater rafting.
Those of you who are gearing up for next season's runs on the North Fork American, Yuba, Tuolumne, high water Merced or the Class V runs on the Cal Salmon, should try and go again on the South Fork during these levels. You've got to be an good paddler or you'll crash and burn through Meatgrinder, get squirrly at Racehorse Bend and flip at Troublemaker. I think that doing these runs will definitely prepare you for next spring's rafting trips.
Soon, we will be back on the Middle Fork American. We started over there in April and then high water came and we couldn't boat over there anymore. Flows need to be below 2,000 cfs or otherwise, paddlers are portaging everything... not much fun, unless you are looking at an expedition! We will be rafting the Middle Fork right around the time that the North Fork American will be ending its season.