A Short Run for Some California Whitewater Rivers This Season

Justin Butchert drops bags of ice into huge coolers and lifts them onto his pickup truck.

“This is our only form of refrigeration up there,” says Butchert, owner of Kings River Expeditions.

He’s referring to his company’s base camp on the Kings River, east of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada. The outfit has run overnight trips, complete with cookouts and goofy campfire skits, for more than 30 years.

But this is the first time in 25 years he’s packed the food.

“You know I just do everything now,” he says. “We used to have a full staff doing this and we don’t have that anymore.”

He has the same number of employees, but they’re working fewer hours. In the best of years, his company stays open until Sept. 1 and guides about 6,000 folks down miles of roaring rapids.

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