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.
Round 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:
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.
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.
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!)
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!
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.
We’re no strangers—landslides, rockslides, sliding fortunes in the global economy, apocalyptic fires, ripped boats, broken oars, oil leaks, soggy bread and sunburns… bring it on, ’cause we can deal. But a government shut-down? Color us powerless. And so, it is with sadness that we have had to cancel our sold-out first weekend on Goodwin Canyon. *tear*
The good news? 1200 CFS and Double Runs. And BBQ.
If those boys up on the hill will just get their acts together and do their job (Who me? Editorialize? Don’t even get me started!) next weekend on Goodwin will be a go! And what a go it will be because we’ve been told to expect awesome flows of around 1200 CFS! And, we got permission from our Fearless Leader to do the double runs and BBQ of Goodwin Canyon Days that we had originally planned for opening weekend.
October 26-27 Goodwin Canyon Days are on! (Fingers Crossed)
So if you can handle a little uncertainty and need another reason to root for a re-open of our fair government (as if), give us a call and jump on this opportunity. Because come November, regardless of what’s going on in Washington D.C, the all too short season on Goodwin will be over.
Ah October, you breezy beauty. We bid a fond farewell to the Middle Fork (the Tuolumne and Cherry Creek are distant memories at this point) last weekend, but fear not, the rafting season isn’t quite over yet.
Throughout October we’ll be running weekend trips on the South Fork American, so head on up for a fun-filled day with the fam! Raftable water releases are limited to Saturdays and Sundays only for the fall and winter.
If you’re looking for something rather more challenging–and lot more unusual–join us for some adventure on Goodwin Canyon Oct 19-27. Spots are filling up fast and all trips will probably sell out, so get a move on it and call us prontissimo!