Boogie'n down the River -- Thurs, July 16th, 2015
I'll preface this post by saying nobody got hurt, which is a good way to start. I almost always raise my hand whenever someone asks, "Want to go ...?" So, when son, Matt, called last week to ask if I wanted to kayak the South Fork of the American River with him, I replied, "Sure," without hesitation. Also without knowing one darned thing about this section of the river, except people had fun rafting on it. Matt had researched it and told me about a couple of nice rapids in that stretch. No problem. It's the easy stretch of the river, he said. The "Upper" flows fast and cold with many technically challenging rapids (including one ominously called Troublemaker). The "Lower" roars from Lotus all the way to Folsom Lake. But we wouldn't be doing those sections ....
We'd use our inflatable tandem SeaEagle kayak. Jimmy, of course, would remain on land because of his healing knee; Matt and I would be the guinea pigs. Oh, I must mention that Matt had never been in our kayak before and had only been kayaking twice on the ocean. I hadn't been in our boat in a year. Get the picture? Were we "in over our heads?"
Getting the SeaEagle ready at Marshall Gold Discovery SHS in Coloma. Jimmy is showing Matt how to set up the kayak.
Good day to be on the water, hot, but not broiling. The cool water was refreshing. Swift water ahead.
White water begins. Put away the camera! (forgot the waterproof GoPro!). You won't see pictures of the rapids because the camera would've been ruined.
Hooray! Success, made it thru the rapids in the background.
A "herd" of Common Merganser babies raced across the river.
After the last harrowing Class II+ rapids, we pulled in to regroup and Matt donned his water booties, just in case we tumped over.
Nearly everyone on the water was in a guided raft (commercial outfitters). After the first few rapids, we got smart and followed their lead. If they guided their rafts to a chute on the left or center or right, so did we. We could see how their big rafts did in the rapids.
As I said above, from Lotus to Folsom Lake the river roars. We wouldn't be going all the way to Folsom Lake; our take-out place was Greenwood Creek. But from Lotus to Greenwood Creek, we'd go thru Barking Dog Rapid II, Current Divider II+, Highway Rapid II+, Old Scary Rapid, Swimmers Rapid II+, Old Wave Hole, and more. One after the other. I can't find the appropriate words to describe how we felt. Scared? Excited? Surprised? All of the above! But one thing for sure: Our adrenalin was running! We stopped again at this spot because we'd shipped so much water we needed to tip over the kayak and drain it. That's never happened before.
After emptying the kayak, we waited for the above rafts to pass and then paddled in behind them. In calmer stretches between white water, boats queued up so as to not crowd each other in rapids. Everyone was having a grand time!
I almost forgot to mention that water is released from the dam on Thursdays, making more CFS's.
Swimmer's Rapid II+. We'd already rode this one and were at our take-out spot at Greenwood Creek. Jimmy was waiting for us in the Prius, thank goodness.
Our SeaEagle and accompanying paraphernalia was stowed and Matt had already changed. He was ready to take his Prius home and we were ready to hit the road, too. Were we ever in danger on the river? No, I don't believe we were. We didn't take chances and we were careful. Would I have gone with him knowing what I know now? Maybe not. I'd go with Jimmy who has experience with our boat and whitewater. Matt did very well for his first time and he's eager to go again. Neither of us has ever been on whitewater like this, but we had a blast as we surfed the waves!
I was plumb exhausted when I got home. I ain't no spring chicken. But, I wasn't the only one pooped out!