Thursday, August 25, 2005

Late Summer Rafting in California

Weather has been just gorgeous! Upper 90's with cooling trends in the evening bring a welcoming respite from the murderous heat last month. Season is winding down on both the South Fork American and the Middle Fork American River. Yesterday, the Middle Fork was uncrowded and truely a wilderness gem. Our guest paddlers commented about the stark contrast of serene, quiet beauty of the canyon and the wild rapid ride through Tunnel Chute.

This is what rafting is all about... the beauty of Nature and it's potentially dangerous routes. Isn't this why people crave Class 5 rapids, black diamond runs on the ski slope, vertical mountain bike runs and climbing and conquering mountains? We are a distant cousin to the first pioneers that inhabited this planet. They were the ones who had to negotiate streams and rivers without knowing what lay ahead. Can you imagine seeing a Class 5 rapid for the first time in a small, handmade watercraft without knowing it was there? How did they survive and how did they figure out how to run those rapids? By trial and error... except their errors led to serious consequences.

Updates currently are predicting that we should have good flows on the South Fork American River for the early Fall months. Bill Center, former El Dorado County supervisor predicts, "... looking at the amount of water they will need to release to reach target November 1 reservoir elevations, I anticipate flows in September and October of similar magnitudes as in August. The trick will be to get reliable weekend flows. I can't imagine not having at least Saturdays through September, and well into October, barring any outages, planned or unplanned."

You can read his comments at, an information and forum website for the American River.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Kooks are Out!

The end of the season is coming soon... and the kooks are out! What do you do when the people are one hour late? We had two people who called in on Saturday around fifteen minutes before a 9AM meeting time. They said they would be 20 minutes late. Our early morning staff asked them where they were. The person refused to give us a location except that they were "just outside of Sacramento." We explained that we would try to contact the crew (cell phone coverage there is spotty at the campground) and let them know to try to wait for the people.

Around 15 minutes later, we got another call from the late party again. This time, we practically begged them for their location, asking what exit did they just past. The person sheepishly answered, "... we just passed 59th Street exit in Sacramento." Alarmed, we explained that they were approximately one hour away from the meeting site. At that point, our morning staff instructed them that they most likely had missed their trip since everyone was already loaded into the bus. The person started yelling at our staff person. We tried to explain that 36 other people were down there on time and would not wait for two people for an hour. Our bus driver also had other pick-ups that morning and was on a scheduled run. The person hung up angry and then called back asking if they could just go straight to the put-in. We explained that they wouldn't make that either, since the bus had left already and they were on schedule to put-in around 9:30AM. At this point, we asked them to email us on Monday to ask for a reschedule.

The person started screaming profanities and making statements about how they had paid all this money and that we better accommodate them or else. The expletives were alarming and the person said that they would get our staff person fired because we couldn't do anything for them that day. So, what should we have done? We tried to delay the trip as much as we could, but we can not risk the wrath of 36 other people who were on time to wait for two people who were clearly one hour late? It seems that every year at the end of the season, the kooks come out.

Late Sunday night, we received a message for a late addition to the Monday Middle Fork American trip. We rearranged the trip, bumped a trainee out, and reconfigured the shuttle. On Monday morning, at 7AM we received a call from them letting us know their older son had woken up ill. They were such nice folks to let us know as soon as they could and they were not screaming at us about refunds and lawsuits. We will be rescheduling them either this year or next because of their gracious behavior. And the other folks, well, we hope they haunt someone else's rafting company.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hot August Rafting Trips

So, August is here and it's time to start thinking about Fall rafting trips. I love late August and September rafting. With this year's incredible snowpack, the flows for late season should be superb. Low flows are only a memory as we go rafting on 1,500 cfs to 1,800 cfs on the South Fork American.

Over on the Middle Fork American, flows have been very stable and consistent; barely changing throughout July. We should see similar flows throughout the late summer and fall months. After the third week of August, we should see a considerable slow-down in the rafting population... families getting ready for school, people finishing their vacation time and others going about the business of getting ready for fall and winter. Like the spring, we encourage those of you who are more into a wilderness-type trip, to go rafting from now till end of September. Less people, less traffic on the water... July was an absolute zoo! Tons of people everyday and even more trying to reserve. Pick a date in the late summer and fall and see the river as it should be seen... quiet, serene with lots of rapids! Fall weather is also gorgeous and warm. We hope to see you one more time this year!