Feather River Festival Recap

Posted October 27, 2008 by Tessa Sibbet

This time of year has limited options for boaters looking to enjoy a day of paddling, but every once in a while, there are scheduled released on awesome runs, such as the North Fork of the Feather. The North Feather has a diversion dam on it, so usually, there isn’t enough water to run it. However, thanks to American Whitewater, since 2002 we now have a few guaranteed scheduled releases on the Tobin and Lobin sections throughout the summer. The most recent release was on September 27 and 28, and by the number of California boaters who flocked to the river, it was apparent that a) not much else was running and b) there was a river festival taking place. The festival included a some live music, a bbq, auction, and a Class V kayak race.`According to the folks serving hot dogs at the party on Saturday evening, over 300 people were at the Festival. Judging from the multitude of cars parked at the put-ins and take-outs, and the colorful kayaks strapped to every roof, it seems like a fair estimate.

A crew from Coloma (Robyn, Danny, Brooke, myself, and a few others) headed up Saturday morning to see what all the fuss was about and try to navigate the Class V rapids in a raft. A few of us had seen the river before at higher flows, but we were all a little unsure of how our 13′ raft would fit through some of the extremely narrow slots.

We put on the water a little after noon and enjoyed the boulder garden rapids for the first couple miles. Autumn leaves decorated the canyon with reds and golds, although the changing colors were the only signs that summer was coming to an end. We started seeing kayakers practicing for the race later that day, and others who were just out enjoying a beautiful and challenging run on a perfectly sunny fall weekend. We scouted the more challenging rapids trying to figure out where we could possibly get through. In the end, our runs went very smoothly, but the whole process took a while. So long, in fact, that after running one Class V rapid, we realized we were getting lapped for the third time by the same kayakers who had passed us earlier. They were now racing through the narrow Class V slots. We soon realized that we were right in the middle of the organized kayak race just as they were all getting to the finish line. A crowd had gathered on the bridge and along the river to cheer for the kayakers, so we played along and acted as though we were winning the raft portion of the race and paddled as hard as we could to the finish line. Apparently no one remembered our outstanding performance because they failed to give us a prize at the award ceremony. Either way, it was an incredible weekend spent on a beautiful river with great friends.

Thank you to American Whitewater for all the hard work you do getting releases and making it possible for rafters and kayakers to enjoy many incredible rivers!


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