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Archive for the 'AO Weekly: Company News and Entertaining Stories' Category

Pre-Season Sale Ends Today: Save 25% Until 5pm Jan 31st!

January 31st, 2014 by Malina


Pre-Season Sale Ends Tonight!

This is your last chance to save 25% with our most flexible sale of the year.  Any river, any trip, any day of the 2014 rafting season.  Call us at (800) 247-2387, Live Chat, or pre-pay online by 5 pm tonight, January 31st before the 2014 Pre-Season Sale floats into the sunset with out you.

Will There Be Rivers Running? YES! Oui! JA! Si Senor!

And yes, even with the drought, we’re looking at good flows on our four most popular rivers: the South and Middle Forks of the American, the Tuolumne, and Cherry Creek!  Learn more about the impact of the  California drought on 2014 rafting trips in our blog article.


AO Rafting on NPR: “Whitewater Rafting to Continue Despite Dry Winter”

January 15th, 2014 by Malina

This article accompanied Scott A’s interview on Capital Public Radio’s Insight program on January 15, 2014.  You can listen to the entire interview as well.


Rivers and More! Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2014

January 9th, 2014 by Malina

WSFF-LogoRound these parts, you think of rivers, you think of rafting.  Duh.  But wait, there’s more!  What about the creatures that live in them?  Or how dams effect them?  Or what about rivers literally buried alive under cities?  I didn’t know that either, but apparently there are cities all over the world that, over time, have redirected their rivers to under ground sewers so the river is still there, but no one can see it!  Weird, right?  Don’t you want to learn more? Of course you do, and it’s all possible if you watch Lost Rivers, one of the many documentary films being shown at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival this weekend Jan 9-12, 2014 in Nevada City.

Here’s another film you gotta check out. No rafting here, but how ’bout this riverine madness:

YouTube Preview Image 

Festival films will showcase the more typical things you associate with rivers as well–from Steelhead fishing to river conservation and dams to rivers we here at AO Rafting love and know quite well like the Rio Futaleufu in Chile and, closer home, the North Fork of the American River

And if for some reason you’re reading this blog and you couldn’t care less about rivers but but you are fascinated by bees, bears, plastic recycling, Yosemite, avoiding toxic Christmas presents or pretty much anything else related to saving the earth and connecting with what matters……..go to the festival this weekend. There is a film for you there.




How AO Rafting Parties Down in the Off-Season

December 10th, 2013 by Malina

DSCF5229“You work for a rafting company?  It must be dead this time of year—what do you do all day?”

Oh, not much.

Here’s a partial taste of what we do this time of year:

Winterisation of our River Office property includes pouring antifreeze in the toilets, removing shower heads, shutting off all irrigation…..and then fixing the pipes that inevitably break anyway…..

300+ PFDs are washed, inspected and repaired if needed. Same for 200+ splash jackets and a couple hundred wetsuits, helmets and paddles.

Broken oars abound: completely trashed ones go to the burn pile……and the survivors are repaired, sanded, given new rubber tips, and re-varnished.

Cracked coolers, tipsy tables, rusted dutch ovens, and dirty fire pans all get TLC.

Com kits are scoured for missing forks, bent spoons and greasy pot holders….and every surface that touches food is scrubbed and bleached within an inch of its life.

Boats are unrolled and inspected—tears, abrasions and outright blow-outs are tenderly (ok, maybe not tenderly, aorafting_riveroffice2013maybe with blasting music and colorful language at times) mended.

Don’t even get me started on vehicles…….oil changes for the entire fleet…off season maintenance…detailed inspections of what, 7 buses, 5 or 6 vans…..whatever, it’s a lot!

And that’s not even mentioning all the behind-the-scenes paperwork, phone calls and scull-drudgery that goes into running a rafting company from the office side of things.  Let’s just say that many snacks are provided unless Upper Management wants a riot on its hands.

“A rafting company in winter—must be boring!”

“Yeah,” I reply, “there’s really nothing much going on.”

(Top picture:  An army of picnic tables marched into the distance, waiting to be cleaned and given a fresh coating of preservative….Bottom: A snowy day in Lotus means one thing: crossing fingers that all the pipes are turned off and well-insulated!)


Every. Single. 2014 Rafting Trip is Discounted 25%

November 19th, 2013 by Malina

The Pre-Season Sale:

Our most popular discount of the year is ON.

Why so popular?
Because…any river, any day of the week, any month of the 2014 rafting season is discounted 25%. So what’s your pleasure? High water spring rafting? Do it. Lazy summer float? Book it. Overnight camping trip with the family? Make it happen. All you have to do is purchase by Friday, January 31, 2014 and you’ll save 25%.

New and available online: Cash value or river trip gift certificates… all at a 25% discount!


Rafting On A Rainy Day

October 29th, 2013 by Denise Karapinar

I woke up Saturday morning, threw all of my rafting gear into my car, and headed off towards Forest Hill. There was a sharp chill the air, and I began wondering how much colder it would get as I made my way into the river canyon. About 30 minutes into the drive, I hit some dense fog and a light sprinkle. That sprinkle quickly turned in to a downpour. I began wondering if rafting still seemed like a good idea.

I got the AO meeting place, and was immediately greeted by two smiling river guides. They seemed completely unaffected by the rain, and looked more excited to get out on the river than anything.

They really all are so smiley!


The rest of the group and I huddled under the large covered area at the meeting place. We put on wet suits and splash jackets, and began packing our gear into dry bags to keep them from getting wet. We then tossed all of our gear onto the bus, hopped in, and made our way down to the river.

The scenery on the way to the river was breath taking. I have made that drive many times, but had never seen it look so serene and picturesque. We made it down to the river, hopped off the bus, and carried our rafts down to the water. At this point I was still not too pumped about the wet weather, and was questioning how this trip would play out.

The SECOND we hit the water, I knew the rain was no longer a factor.


When you think about it, you can only get so wet. Rafting is a wet sport by its very nature. You will get wet, and the thrill of it all will make you crave a good splash in the face. I was surprised how little it was effecting me.


The best part about rafting in the rain is that you get to see the river and the whole canyon in a completely different way. Seeing fog hover over the cliffs and rain drops dancing across the water’s surface was magical in many ways. It is a different kind of beauty that is hard to capture in words on or on film. It is by far, the most gorgeous that river has ever looked.



The whole day of rafting was amazing, but I began to think about camp. I know there are no covered areas there first hand. I was curious about how the guides would be able to cook and keep everyone dry, warm, and happy.

Those river guides certainly are industrious, clever people. The managed to rig together a huge tarp hang out spot, and set up the kitchen right after.


We had dinner under the tarp in the rain, and enjoyed each other’s company.


Soon after dinner the skies cleared up, and we ventured out to the shore to make a camp fire and star gaze. When the night was coming to a close, I made my way to my tent as it began to rain again. I fell asleep the soft sound of the of rain drops.


I woke up to clear skies and the invigorating scent of the wilderness after a rain. I truly believe there is no scent quite as refreshing. I walked down to the beach and was greeted by the guides making coffee and cooking up a fantastic breakfast spread.

We then proceeded to have another fantastic day out on the water. The skies were clear and the weather was warmer, yet somehow, I found myself missing the rain and fog from the previous day.


When the trip came to a close, I realized it was one of the most unique experiences I have had rafting, and later decided it was one of my favorites.

The Moral of the Story

Don’t let bad weather scare you away from having the trip of a life time!

You will be able to experience the river in a very unique way. And the beauty is something you can read about, but won’t understand until you experience it for yourself.


Rim Fire: AO Rafting’s Front Row Experience

August 26th, 2013 by Gregg Armstrong

This is what AO Rafting experienced as the Rim Fire began a week ago.


RimFire_blaze_AORaftingOn Saturday, August 17, a small fire started in the Clavey River drainage, a few miles north of the starting point for All-Outdoors’ Tuolumne Class IV trips and the ending point for Cherry Creek Class V trips.


On Sunday, August 18, Scott Armstrong, myself, and 10 outfitters from around the country entered the canyon. We were planning a 3-Day Tuolumne River trip beginning on Monday, August 19.


As we passed the Rim of the World vista point on Hwy 120 that afternoon (where the fire got its name) we noticed a small amount of white smoke rising from the Clavey River area. The fire did not look very threatening (see photo from my phone below right). Three planes were flying in circles dumping retardant on the smoky areas and it seemed to all of us that this fire would soon be under control.


We spent the night at the Yosemite Riverview Inn near the rim of the canyon. The roads into the Tuolumne were closed on Monday so that fire crews could go in and out without delay. On Monday morning the fire reached the north bank of RimFire_dayonethe river and unexpectedly jumped to the south side. This is when things began to heat up. There’s much more fuel (trees) on the south side, and by mid day the sky became dark and orange from the smoke and fire and ash was falling on us and the surrounding area (see photo from my phone at top left).


The Inn we were staying in was on the south rim. It did not take long to realize we were in the fire’s path. We immediately began to evacuate.  After we were packed and out, Scott headed to our warehouse at Casa Loma, 4 miles west on Hwy 120 with one of the outfitters from North Carolina to remove gear and vehicles, and water down buildings before the fire arrived. One of our competitors has their headquarters at the same location and we wanted to help him evacuate as well.


I headed to Sierra Mac’s warehouse (another competitor) a mile west on Hwy 120 with 9 of the other outfitters to help him evacuate as well. This location was in the immediate path of the fire and it was moving so quickly that we only had minutes to get out.


By the time Scott got to our warehouse, the fire had reached Hwy 120 and jumped the road. We would be separated by the fire for the next two days. A few minutes after we got to the Sierra Mac warehouse, a Cal Fire Firefighter drove up and told us we had 5 only minutes to pack whatever we want and get out of there.


Scott was able to get everything out of our warehouse and we were able to get the most valuable things out of Sierra Mac’s warehouse. I, and the folks I was with, drove out of the “closed” area to the Cal Fire blockade on Hwy 120 and watched the blaze continue up the canyon toward Yosemite. The fire was so hot that it created its own rain clouds that produced ash-filled rain drops and loud thunder above us.


Scott left our warehouse to move gear and vehicles further away from the fire that had changed direction and was concentrating most of its force toward us. Later that evening Scott and the outfitter from North Carolina returned to our warehouse at Casa Loma to find that the winds had changed the fire was starting back his direction again. They spent several hours watering down buildings and finally at 1:00 am had to evacuate again as the fire neared the area. Fortunately it never made it the buildings. We hope it never does.


For the next two days we helplessly watched the fire grow as it consumed pristine forest and created an atomic bomb like cloud of smoke that reached 40,000 feet. By the time we left on Wednesday afternoon, the small fire we saw on Sunday from the Rim of the World had grown into a massive blaze that was consuming trees as if they were matches and made the world we were in seem like a war zone.



Do you want some Fritos with your Chili Baker rapid?

July 25th, 2013 by Malina

chili_cook-off_cowboy-300x203One of my favorite summer memories is when someone came into our River Office asking about where to find pictures from the best rapid of the day, the famous “Chili Baker” on the South Fork of the American.  Oh man.  It was a good one…..combining “Chili Bar” the put-in location on the upper section of the South Fork, with the actually-quite-famous class ”Troublemaker” rapid.

What got me thinking about this was that the other day Eric at Hotshot Imaging (he does the whitewater photos on the South and Middle9015760-empty-toilet-paper-roll-hanging-in-a-restroom Forks) told us that a gentleman came into his shop who had kayaked the South Fork back in 1959–way before the river was the hugely popular place that it is today–and said that when asked what the bigger rapids were like his best description would be that it was like being flushed down a toilet!  Apparently his buddies joked that it would have had to have been the “Devil’s Toilet.”  According to local lore, that got morphed into first “The Devil’s John” in the 60s, and finally into “Satan’s Cesspool.”  We have no Cowboy_dishing_up_chilidocuments or oral histories offering evidence, but I can only imagine that in the 70′s and 80′s there was a period calling it “Lucifer’s Crapper,” “Hell’s Head,” and “The Can of the Dark Prince.”

Ah good times.  Now back to river use reports.

Terror near the BBQ

July 18th, 2013 by Malina

2538450992_43e7efeb7cYou know, the scariest (in a good way of course) part of your rafting trip really should be the moment just before you head into a long rapid like Meatgrinder on the South Fork or when you feel like you’re going to drop off the face of earth when you hear the “get down” command above tunnel Chute on the Middle Fork…..but if you use aerosol sunscreen spray, the biggest shocker may actually be the seemingly innocent act of applying your SPF! 

I just read a report about how spray-on sunscreens can actually burst into a fireball if they don’t dry enough before you get near an open flame….or a BBQ!  Now there’s a risk your mama never warned you about.  So before sidling up to the grill master on your next multi-day river trip, make sure your sunscreen is good and dry so you leave the thrills on river where they belong!

AO Rafting in the News!

July 11th, 2013 by Malina

PAT_4338-1024x685Ok so it’s just our local paper in Placerville, the Mountain Democrat, but it’s still exciting to see AO Rafting owner and guide extraordinaire Scott A in print!  His photo accompanied a lovely article on whitewater rafting back in June (yes, I’m a little behind, oh well).

Here is a little snippet of the article on rafting in El Dorado county, but you can read the whole thing online!

“Whitewater rafting is one of the best scary/fun adventures you can experience. El Dorado County is one of the best places to  hear the roar of rapids up ahead, feel the pounding of your heart as the raft carries you ever closer and the adrenaline rush as you paddle through the rapids, bouncing on the waves, while water cascades around you. The thrill of accomplishment as you shoot safely through the rapids and come out into a stretch of fast-moving water is amazing and it all happens right here, in our own backyard.”

(above: Wooooo!!! That’s the Mountain Demo’s picture of Scott A guiding a paddle boat just above Meatgrinder, on the South Fork American River)