Friday, March 18, 2016

OVER THE BOW: THE UPPER SOUTH FORK OF THE AMERICAN RIVER

PHOTO BY DYLAN NICHOLS
There is something about the rush of whitewater. The chaos, the churning and boil as the stream's thunder and roar echoes across a valley's chasm. It's a call of the wild few can resist. Naturalist John Craighead says, "The call is the thundering rumble of distant rapids, the intimate roar of white water. . a primeval summons to primordial values." While writer John Daniel reflected the same sentiment when he wrote, "The stream sings, a subdued music, a scarcely audible lilt, faint and fluid syllables not quite said. It slips away into its future, where it already is, and flows steadily forth from up the canyon, a fountain of rumors from regions known to it and not to me." Seeing that tiny trickle at the beginning, that was fresh snow only weeks before now building and turning into a sparkling river of rapids tumbling down through chutes and falls, pouring into pool after pool of effervescence.

For kayaker Pete DeLosa the call was deafening and couldn't be ignored especially after El NiƱo, a strong warm-water mass in the Pacific had pumped moisture and new life into the veins of the California water supply.
"Went from no water in California to everything being high! So great to see water returned to the South Fork." posted the Team Pyranha's Delosa on his Facebook page,  "There are several options farther upstream that have been getting consistent flow. The road side Kyburz section offers continuous Class IV rapids for several miles and just below that the Riverton to Peavine section has semi remote feeling with Class III and IV rapids."

This is one of California's top Class IV river runs, through the scenic beauty of El Dorado County east of Sacramento. Folks will only see flashes of the South Fork of the American River's tumbling white water while driving on along Highway 50. Most is hidden from highway view as the river drops into a deep canyon for the next 20 miles featuring a combination of dynamic rapids along the course. Brimming with new flows after some past years of low water due to drought, area kayakers are finding reasons to paddle and explore it again.

"A successful weekend of paddling at home." posted DeLosa, " I got a couple Kyburz runs in which I've been wanting for a while. It's great to have a few miles of road side class IV so close to home. The highlight however, was getting out on the river Saturday with a couple young paddlers and getting to take them on their first high water run at Chile Bar. Super exciting to see young chargers learning and getting after it."

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