Friday, May 25, 2007

My Little NoFo

The North Fork American is one of the forks of the American River. Just northeast of Sacramento, California, this river is a popular whitewater rafting trip for advanced paddlers. It's season is brief and challenging. The last scheduled trip was just this past weekend, and we say goodbye to it's beautiful rocks and rapids until 2008. W.E.T. River Trips will now focus on the main Klamath River, South Fork American, and Middle Fork American for the rest of the 2007 Season. Call us for summer rafting and special discounts!

my little nofo

you, the precious one
the river of my dreams
crystalline waters flowing from snow
i love you so...

you, unconquerable
just tolerating us,
allowing us to stroke your hair
caring for us in your magical way
then striking us when we don't respect

my little nofo
you, the most vulnerable
others would destroy you
capture you in a man-made box
drowning you in our sorrow
oh, i love you so

my little nofo
we bid farewell for now
until tomorrow
when the snow arrives
and the sun shines
we'll meet again

"Ode to the North Fork American"

Friday, May 18, 2007

American River

WAAAA...! stop the whining OK, the snowpack was light, it got hot early, then it got cold, it was raining in April....Waaa F'n Waaa!

We have had one of the best early seasons of all time and last Saturday was the peak: Saul rolled up from Newport Beach in big style accompanied by Irene as they "roughed" it by checking in to the North Fork cabin at Camp Lotus. Jonny '07 left his lesson plans and expectant wife for the day, Jason took a break from Marin, Andrew folded up the wetsuits and put one on himself while he enlisted Julie to do two shuttles, Country Mike nailed his second class IV debut in two weeks, Robbe took a break from steep creeks, Ryan Mac put down his video camera, Nate switched from Ski Patrol to Kayak Safety, Greg D. continued his education into all things W.E.T., Wolf emerged from the farthest reaches of the North Fork Canyon, Maggie left the dogs in Reno, Jeffe made it back with one good ankle from Big Sur, Bird made himself a legend amongst head-guides, Booty tapped Class IV, Dax padded his resume, and Cool J. finally got cool... Saturday, W.E.T. River Trips ran all three forks of the American River: North, Middle, and South: a rare feat even in a bountiful year of water. The stars aligned, the rivers ran and the best guides in California came out to play.

All told, we ran all three Forks with five trip configurations and fourteen guides. When the day wrapped up and the warehouse was buttoned up, a vicious game of nerf football ensued in the star thistles and on the blacktop of Bassi Road while we re-grouped and caravaned to the Sierra Nevada House for Margaritas, ice water, and steak sandwiches.

Jonny rocked the purple pouch, we laughed till we were sick, and we saw sights that made my eyes burn.
It was a great way to celebrate the crown jewels of the Desolation Wilderness drainage... rafting the three Forks of the American River. It was also bitter sweet to say goodbye to the North Fork American for the season; however, it was a happy occasion to welcome back the Middle Fork American with consistent flows for the rest of the season to compliment the great flows on the South Fork American.

Sunday was Mother's Day and we had two forks to run the next day; but, the purple pouch will re-appear for Father's Day... or maybe that's just a rumor.

Why do I still hear that whining...oh never mind, it's just Bird.
A Big Poppa Post

Monday, May 14, 2007

Graduation 2007

My baby is graduating. And the heaviness that weighs inside is almost unbearable. How did my teen become an adult overnight? The flurry of end-of-school year events is helping to distract me from my agony. Yes, I am in agony. This day just seemed so far away, and now it's here.

The baby came on a cold rainy day... one of the rainiest days ever. I always looked at that as being a sort of cleansing. A purifying of the world before the baby arrived. Those days seem so far away, now. The diapers, the breast feeding, the sleepless nights. I remember I felt as if the non-stop baby routine would never end. And now, it just seems like a small blip in all of our family life.

All the family trips that we took were just not enough. The road trips, the rafting trips in California, Idaho, Oregon... it was just not enough. And the thought that we may never get together as a family again for any vacation trip really gets to me. I could just cry.

College beckons now for my adult student teen. Already, my teen is a busy college student; taking care of paperwork, getting classes together, meeting with counselors, getting ready for the open house. Going away will be hard on all of us. We've purchased all the sundries to accommodate the new living quarters, and we've probably bought way too much. My teen doesn't seem to understand how difficult this is for us. And they shouldn't feel our sadness. I don't want to rain on their blossoming heads.

The confidence and independence that we had hoped to instill is reflected in their almost cavalier attitude of leaving home. This is how it should be. My teen is ready for adulthood, and as far as mom and dad? We're the ones who aren't ready.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


In the urban core of the central valley, Sacramento's sparkling jewel, the American River, has long been a draw to the suburban and city paddlers. The river flows year round attracting many users to its fishing, picnicking, swimming and rafting. It's the recreation river we read about the most... especially after a major holiday. The river is deceptively calm. And yet, it has had more fatalities due to its seemingly easy flow. Debris, cold waters, swirling currents have trapped many who did not have lifejackets or proper gear during their attempted swims or crossings.

The county of Sacramento has had its share of woes as more and more groups run that river on small vinyl rafts or rented rafts from the various vendors that line the shores. It's become a ritual for the rowdies that pepper the river with loud, cursing voices and tossed beer cans. Not only has the area been polluted by noise and trash, but the pollution of the atmosphere has given way to alarming riots and a melee of violence.

Alcohol does that. That seems to be the element that is shared by every violent encounter on that river. It has driven families away. So the county has passed an ordinance banning alcohol during Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend. So there.

Up here on the American River whitewater trips, the ban has been in placed for many, many years. California State Parks saw the problem years ago and applied these regulations to our industry. Not because of violence, but out of a respect for white water. Ya gotta know what your doing to be safe. Commercial outfitters don't allow alcohol on their trips. Period.

As rafters and paddlers, we enjoy our alcoholic beverages. Don't get me wrong. It's just that California outfitters have a responsibility to our paying guests to be at our best when their safety is in our hands. The rowdy and obnoxious public behavior on the Lower American is a shameful display of idiocy. If I were the county board, I'd ban alcohol permanently on that urban river.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

California Rafting & River Flows

Where does the water come from?
How goes the flows?
Who plays frisbee golf?

The last question gets answered first... Outside of UC Santa Cruz students and Marinites... everybody in the freakin' Midwest (at-least according to our expatriates: Ryan D., Eric J., and J.P. (we'll get back to this).

As to the other questions... I'm glad you asked.

The North, Middle, and South Fork of the American River have distinct and unique drainages...
so, tells us more, old river guide and amateur hydrologist.....

The North Fork American is a completely natural river without dams, canals, or augmentations. With a fairly small drainage above 6,000 ft, where the majority of Sierra snows accumulate, the backside of Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is the headwaters of the class 4+ North Fork. When the Sierra's quit freezing and a 24-hour melt cycle develops (like it did this last Tuesday) the North Fork kicks in and flows freely. In great years, like 2006, the snowpack will squeeze runoff into the river until early June. This year, the early heat in March torched the winter snow pack, but these last few storms in April are now responsible for the flows that we have now. The North Fork should fall below 1,000 cfs soon. We had some great trips and we'll have at-least a couple more before the river becomes a creek.

The Middle Fork American is a different type of river system. The product of two major drainages, the Rubicon and Middle Fork, it also absorbs the water from the North Fork of the Middle Fork. The entire system drains the western bowls of Desolation Valley (just to the west of Lake Tahoe). Two large reservoirs (French Meadows and Hell Hole) store much of the run-off allowing nearly year-round, runnable flows. The drainages that supply the Rubicon and upper MIddle Fork are high and vast. Rafters and other river users continue to benefit from the system of storage and downstream delivery. This year looks good with solid and reliable flows to be delivered all summer.

The South Fork American drains the southwest corner of Desolation Valley and the slopes of the Sierra just to the west of Kirkwood and Sierra-At-Tahoe. Silver Lake, Union Valley, Loon Lake, and Ice House reservoirs all hold and control the flows into the South Fork American above 4,000 feet above sea level. With the large storage capacity in place on the South Fork, it takes two back-to-back dry years to severely limit runnable flows in the South Fork of the American. Last year was extra good and this year has proven to be better than OK. We now have guaranteed flows everyday of the summer except for one dry day a week (maybe the guides can play more frisbee golf).

Apparently the Mid-Westerners love frisbee F'n golf... they talk strategy, equipment, and courses like Tiger Woods must talk golf. I believe them to be sick.... but I also hate hacky sack and I truly enjoy throwing Grateful Dead CD's into the nearest garbage can... I know... that's sick, too.

Go raft a river & do a trip... enjoy what great flows we'll have this year... no, that's not sick: that's livin'!

Big Poppa posts are his own personal opinion; the rest of us like frisbee golf, hacky sack & the Dead!