Chris Moore watched in awe this winter as the snow piled up on his multiple trips to Bear Valley Mountain Resort in the central Sierra.
“I’ve never seen a winter quite like this,” said Moore, California regional manager for O.A.R.S. rafting company.
“What all this snow means is it’s going to be a long and exciting whitewater season, so I’m stoked.
“We’re going to have big flows in the late spring and early summer and a more drawn-out whitewater season on rivers here in California.”
Moore’s enthusiasm is widespread among rafting outfitters up and down the state, some of whom are still recovering from the drought, which just two years ago saw April 1 snowpack measurements of 5% of normal throughout much of the Sierra.
This year, however, the snowpack is 140% of normal for the Northern Sierra and 169% of normal for the Central Sierra, according to the California Data Exchange Center.
Here’s how the season is shaping up.
The Middle, North and South forks of the American River, as well as the North Fork of the Stanislaus River will have high flows in May and June, moderating as the summer progresses.
“The South Fork of the American, which is normally a fun Class III river that’s great for even young kids, is not going to be the kind of stream you’d want to take your 6-year-old on around the start of the season” Moore said. “But it will mellow out, too, as the season unfolds.”
Because the water on the South Fork will be roaring early, O.A.R.S. will offer its one-day, “21-Miler” trips seven days a week from April through June.
These wild rides combine the upper Chili Bar section with the lower Gorge section. At lower flows, covering all 21 miles of the South Fork would make for a long day, but not this spring and early summer.
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