Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jaded: High Flows? Not Yet!

The core crew is already jaded over the high flows... it's only 5,000 cfs... March 18th was our first start date on the rivers in California. March was cool since the crazy storms hadn't hit yet. Most of April has been spent on the American River since other rivers were running so high that the flows were just not safe enough. The sun came out and most of the runs are starting to come down to manageable levels. At 150% water content in the snowpack, let us pray for a slow melt this spring... This week W.E.T. River Trips is on the South Fork American and the pristine North Fork American. Both have been at challenging levels. SoFo's 5,000+ cfs has been great for the athletic novice rafter; a great taste of Class 4minus rapids on the upper sections at Chili Bar. The NoFo flow is still too high ... even today at 3,800 cfs; tomorrow's run will probably end up on the Full River South Fork. We should be over on the NoFo this weekend with our guest paddlers.

Flows are a mysterious thing. You read the data, you look at the charts... what does it all mean? Don't just look at the numbers. Make sure you understand the parameters of the actual river. One river can be at 10,000 cfs and totally boatable while another river becomes deadly. With commercial outfitters, we have a huge incentive to run well-below the maximum flows on any river. Namely; life, lawsuits, loss of insurance, loss of government permits, etc etc. Outfitters need to be safe so that they can remain viable businesses. What good is it to run unsafe trips? W.E.T. recommends that you try to stay with proven outfitters who have been around a while. We're not saying a new outfitter may be more sketchy, but they might not have a proven track record of safe trips. Better to stick with the ol' outfitters... they've been doing it so long that you know they'll be around next year!

Our friends in Northern California have been rafting on lots of kayaking rivers. The kayakers have been creekin' like crazy for the past few months. Some of our surfer friends have been in kayaks enjoying a different type of surf action. Now that the sun has come back to life, we expect a lot more action on the rivers. People are sooo ready to go outdoors again and enjoy themselves instead of being glued to the XBox and the latest Battlefield 2.

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