Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Where the River Ends...Rattlesnake Bar.

Where the river ends...The North Fork of the American River flowing into Folsom Lake
 All my paddling books were written about 15 years ago. Each offers maps and tips on where to go and how to get there.  They have suggestions on the obstacles one might encounter and what sights to look for a long the way. It is very helpful knowledge for both the beginner and the veteran paddler.
 However, Folsom Lake is now at an all-time low. Where my GPS says there should be water,  looks more like the surface of Mars. The waterway which has definitely shrunk offers now new opportunities to explore areas that were once underwater. Look for massive and remarkable rock formations resembling fortresses and castles along the shoreline and giant boulders rising up out the water from nowhere.
 Rattlesnake Bar is the furthest north boat access point on the north arm of the lake at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. The landscape there is very rugged. The guidebooks say watch for rattlesnakes, hence the name, but lookout for other wildlife as well.
 At the time, the lake level had dropped far below the cement of the boat ramp. Along with that, the gate leading to the ramp was locked. Portaging the kayak down the hill was in order to get on the water.  Once on it, I found the water very quiet while paddling up past Morman Ravine.  Here is where the water clarity improved as the icy North Forks of the American River water meets the warmer lake water.  At this place,  it was easy for me to see into the depths of the lake below. In places, I could see clearly twenty to thirty feet into the bluish green water.
 A giant gravel bar soon appears. It is the reminder of the power water. A flood destroyed a cofferdam some years ago sending a wall of water and dam material all downstream. The water at this point became shallow and the current started to tug at my kayak.  I had to stop and turn around just before hitting some Class I rapids. This is where the river ends.
 I will have to wait till lake is higher to conclude this journey.