Just a couple of weeks ago, we thought we would have a short spring season this year. We thought we would only be on dam controlled rivers. And then it started snowing. And the storms moved in. And more are coming. They just measured the snowpack yesterday and the "water people" are now saying that we are at 110% of normal... and it's only the first week of January! Yowza!
North Fork American River should be optimum around mid-March through May. Days are usually sunny and mild and there are hardly any rafters there at that time. Last year, we had a lot of very athletic users who didn't care about the milder weather. They just wanted to river raft on this premier stretch of whitewater. Class 4 to 4+ over polished granite rocks with very technical rapids have kicked butt on many experienced users. This is a favorite run for serious rafters and kayakers in Northern California.
This river has a wild history. In the early 60's, there were some paddlers in Sacramento who first did this run in rubber duckies! Can you imagine? They got thrashed and their boat did not survive. In the 70's, kayakers abound, but the kayaks then were not as refined and negotiating the tight rapids took quite a bit of skill. In the 80's, the commercial rafting companies came out in droves. Unfortunately, some of these companies did not have the skill level and there were some awful moments over there. I remember rafting there with clients and watched as BrandX rafting company flipped in Chamberlain. Fortunately, we had an oar-boat and safety kayakers with us. We corraled those paddlers safely back to shore, but the guests refused to go with BrandX company. So we distributed the people among the W.E.T. rafting trip and we proceeded downstream.
The other company's guides were glad that we took charge. And we were glad to help out. On the river, there is no competition among the companies. We all just want to provide safe and fun trips. Every rafting company out there will stop and help any user on the river. That is our moral obligation within this tight river community!