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A Reunion of Return Guests on the Kaweah Last Weekend

May 18th, 2007 Robyn Suddeth

These guys are good at tracking flows… they’ve gone with us year after year and know just when to start calling the reservations office and ask about which of our Spring rivers are running when. So it wasn’t a surprise to me that for our first of only two weekends of water on the Kaweah this year, we saw many of AO’s most frequent floaters.

Willy, our beloved German guest who came rafting with us somewhere around 20 times last year, had never seen the Kaweah until last weekend. Paired in a boat with fellow enthusiast Dan, who actually joined us for guide school this year, he commented later that it had been one of his favorite days on the river ever. This, of course, following a beautiful grand finale in Holiday Rapid which included both a perch and a surf. (Holiday rapid is one of my favorites… it starts out with a very technical backpaddle into and “airplane turn” that takes the front of your boat just barely past a huge hole… and then doesn’t let up with the technical moves and big whitewater until a few hundred yards downstream. Translation? Lots of opportunity for plans B, C and D to go into effect.)

As for myself for my first weekend back on the Kaweah this year? Aside from the fact that I seem to have forgotten how to stay in my own little compartment in the back of the boat, I had a wonderful time. Both days I had guests who had been on Cherry Creek last summer, and were warming up on the Kaweah for a return visit to the Creek this summer. They were great paddlers and a lot of fun. One, Kat, had even swam in one of the big Class V’s on Cherry Creek and then decided she loved rafting, so I knew she belonged on the river even before we hit the water. The whole staying in my compartment thing? Well, there’s a few good, (really fun) drops on the Kaweah: Suicide Falls and Lower Slickies. In Suicide Falls, we always call a “get down”. Why? Well, it’s difficult to stay in your seat with the impact of the drop. So you would think, (correctly), that the guide would hold on as well at that point. Well, of course that’s where the pictures all get taken and so stage fright and all… I couldn’t find the bow line to hold on to at that very crucial second when I decided to say “Get Down!” The resulting flail was pure grace I tell you, but hey… I did manage to stay in the boat.

The Kaweah is running for two more weekends this year. We have trips scheduled on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and Friday through Sunday next weekend. After that, it’s on to dam-fed rivers for all our Class IV and V excitement. The Tuolumne is a good match for the Kaweah, with actually a little more scenic significance, and then Cherry Creek just out-does them all! Hope to see all you frequent floaters out there a few more times this year, and to meet a few new ones.

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