Friday, September 18, 2015

OVER THE BOW: FOLSOM LAKE

 
 "We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms." --Barack Obama

Over the Labor Day weekend the surface of Folsom Lake hovered at dwindling 364 feet above sea. That is 7 feet above last year's low point of 357 feet and 17 feet higher than the all-time record low of 347 set in 1977. California's drought is taking a huge toll on the lakes and reservoirs and Folsom Lake seems to rest at ground zero as the lake level continues to drop by inches daily.
“It means we would no longer be able to revert water out of the reservoir for the City of Folsom and there would be no water for folks to drink,” Bureau of Reclamation spokesperson Shawn Hunt told CBS13.
The lake, which supplies water to nearly half a million people, is nearing the so-called dead pool level. That means that its water level is nearly too low for water to be pumped out. The Bureau of Reclamation is spending about $3.5 million to build a barge including 10 floating platforms with pumps, so if the water level even further drops, the agency can still provide 19 million gallons of water to residents daily.
The historic drought has also revealed some history as stone walls and foundations of the gold mining town of Mormon Island are revealed again after spending years at the lake. Hikers and explorers now tour the ruins of the town destroyed by fire in 1856 according to historians.
My trip takes me to the north arm and narrow section of the lake across from Anderson Island. In the low water, the island is anything but. Mammoth granite boulders choked the flow North Fork of the American River in past on both sides making it now the narrowest point of the lake. On my way there, I stick to the ever rising banks and paddle past stalagmite shaped pillars reaching out of the water. On both sides of the lake it relative wasteland up to the trees. It's an alien world. An ideal setting for the next Star Trek movie, bleak, stern with little signs of any living thing. The waterline is  shrinking the farther north I paddle, as the lake becomes a thin band of blue.
Benjamin Franklin said, "When the well's dry, we know the worth of the water." I can say the same now about Folsom Lake. As I paddle on I hope for a rainy winter.

Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, submit it to us at nickayak@gmail.com