How The Middle Fork American Saved Me

Posted June 21, 2021 by Emily Vernizzi, river enthusiast and Armstrong cousin

How about that for our first global pandemic? Please, may it also be the last. We each had our own ways of coping with the stress and limitations throughout the whole experience, and I can confidently point to the California rivers for keeping my sanity intact.

My job and my interests usually have me clocking some serious air time, so it was truly jarring to stay put for so long. Luckily, to be “locked down” in California has major perks. Even with a limited roaming radius, a day trip to one of the many rivers of the Sierra Nevada foothills was entirely reasonable, and allowed me the mental breathers from my Bay Area apartment that I so desperately needed.

The Middle Fork American River Canyon

Whitewater rafting was able to safely resume in the summer of 2020, but I also regularly found myself hiking into the canyons to rest on the beaches and wave at the AO guests floating past. The Middle Fork of the American River is only accessible by raft and by foot, so you never see crowds – it was my favorite safe, quiet place to decompress.

Secluded Beaches on the Middle Fork American
The tall canyon walls block cell connection, totally disconnecting me from my work emails that I’d so often find myself replying to around the clock and on the weekend – such a sheltering service made those forested walls all the more beautiful! And the Bay Area has a distinct lack of clear swimming holes, which the Middle Fork offers in abundance. So, “OOO: Gone to the river!”

Swimming on the Middle Fork American River
I’ve grown up loving the rivers and learning to appreciate them for the fun of the rapids, peacefulness of the wilderness escapes, and as convenient activities that appealed to all my friend groups, but this past year has taken my appreciation to a whole new level. Thanks, rivers, for getting me through this!

PS: The photos are from one of my many trips to the Middle Fork.


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