Printer Friendly

Winter madness on northern California rivers.

You needn't quit rafting just because winter's arrived. In the coastal mountains of northwestern California, creeks and rivers too low to raft in summer flow with electrifying power in winter--the direct result of huge North Pacific storms colliding with the rugged terrain. Among the other advantages of coastal winter boating is its intimacy with nature. Some runs in the Sierra are crowded with rafts in summer, but as you float along these rivers in winter your only companions (aside from your fellow paddlers) are otters, fish, and birds of prey. But there are also lots of hazards

Running these streams in winter is riskier and more unpredictable than summertime rafting. Weather can cancel a trip with no notice (in fact, flooding rivers can render this entire portion of California completely inaccessible for days at a time), and you'll be cold in any event. Some trips wind through spectacular, isolated canyons that can be reached only by boat; some are day trips, while others require overnight camping. With conditions and demands so changeable, you should attempt these rivers only in the company of a veteran guide.

While most outfitters stop taking trips in mid-September, others (see list on page 56B) are willing to run winter rivers on a charter basis. You must call ahead of time to arrange trips. Prices vary from $40 to $140 per day.

But before you start even shopping around, ask yourself whether you're cut out for winter boating. You should already have been rafting several times during the summer. You should also enjoy the challenges presented by fickle weather; shorter days; cold, fast, high water; and tbe occasional snag in the river bed. Prepare for some frustration in arranging a trip. Sometimes-especially in early winter-the water is too low, and after a large storm it may take days for the river to drop to a safe level. You can give yourself leeway by working with your guide to plan prospective trips on several different rivers. When conditions are right on any of them, he or she can call you back to confirm that trip.

Three runs rich in thrills and beauty

The Smith. The three forks of this pristine gem form the last undammed river system in California. Located in the wettest part of the state, just south of the Oregon border, the Smith flows through a temperate rain forest of redwood and fir trees, ferns, and moss. Its turbulent, gin-clear waters range from class 2 to 4 on a difficulty scale of 1 to 6.

Redwood Creek. Few people get as picturesque a view of Redwood National Park as those who float Redwood Creek. This two- to three-day wilderness trip spans 25 miles of class I to 4 whitewater, past some of the world's tallest trees.

The Eel Draining rugged Mendocino National Forest, the forks of the Eel are a winter rafter's delight, offering everything from a tranquil float to thunderous whitewater. Cutting through dense, roadless wilderness, tbe 30-mile-long middle fork generally ranges from class 2 to 4. For a fuller description of these and other winter runs, read California White Water, by Jim Cassady and Fryar Calhoun (published by the authors in 1984); look in outdoor and sporting goods stores.

Finding the right guide

Before committing yourself to a stranger's raft, take some time on the telephone to make sure you and your outfitter understand each other. Establish, for example, whether wet suits are provided.

At a minimum, you should have a 1/8-inchthick Farmer John style wet suit, a nylon paddling jacket, neoprene diving booties, and polypropylene or woolen long underwear and cap (avoid cotton clothes).

Here we list outfitters who have several years of winter rafting experience, use high-quality equipment, carry emergency gear to treat hypothermia, and are safetyconscious about winter boating.

Beyond Limits, Box 1339, Danville, Calif. 94526; (800) 234-7238. Eel Riven

Electric Rafting Company, Box 3456, Eureka, Calif. 95501; (707) 445-3456. Smith River, Redwood Creek.

Nonesuch Whitewater, 4004 Bones Rd., Sebastopol, Calif. 95472; 823-6603. Eel.

Rabicon Whitewater Adventures, Box 517, Forestville, Calif. 95436; 887-2452. Eel.

Tributary Whitewater Tours, 20480 Woodbury Dr, Grass Valley, Calif. 95949; (916) 346-6812. Smith, Eel.

Turtle River Rafting Company, 507 McCloud Ave., Mount Shasta, Calif. 96067; 926-3223. Eel, Smith.

Whitewater Voyages, Box 906, El Sobrante, Calif 94803; (415) 222-5994. Eel, Redwood Creek.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1988
Words:716
Previous Article:Cold hands, bright snow, dead batteries: challenges of cold-weather photography.
Next Article:Crab searching, whale-watching, tidepooling ... good reasons for a winter jaunt to Bodega Bay.
Topics:


Related Articles
Winter water wonderlands.
NEW STORM SYSTEM HEADED FOR SOUTHLAND : WARMER DOWNPOURS COULD BRING UP TO 2 INCHES, DROPPING SNOW LEVEL.
SNOW BOOSTS WATER OUTLOOK PACKED FLAKES IN SIERRA NEVADA COULD HELP COUNTERACT EFFECTS OF DRY WINTER.
Warm river.
Killing for Land in Early California: Indian Blood at Round Valley, 1856-1863.
PG&E Project Pulls One Mile-Long Pipeline Under Delta River.
WET WINTER HELPS BOOST SHARE WATER: ALLOCATIONS FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA UP, BUT LEVELS STILL LOW.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters