I just returned from a three-day river
rafting trip down the Tuolumne river
with my father. What an incredible time.
I had never been rafting before. Three days of whipping down class IV
rapids, swimming under river waterfalls and lazing around camp has me
feeling pretty liberated. It's almost enough to make me quit my job and
take a crack at becoming a river guide in the summer, ski bum in the
winter. It can't be all that different from leading kids around the woods
for four summers.
We went down as part of a group of nine, the others friends,
acquaintances and friends of friends of my father's. We
ranged from 29 (me) up to 70, and everyone fared just fine. Two of us fell
into the water briefly, but no one was hurt, and everyone was able to keep
up. We also had four guides, all men ranging from roughly 25 to 35,
including an ex Marine-turned-journalist, an Oakland cop, a ski
instructor and a longtime ARTA pro. They did all the cooking and cleaning,
and piloted two oar boats of luggage and supplies, which felt a bit like
cheating (but hey you get used to it).
The Tuolumne is fed by water released daily from Hetch Hetchy. Our
rapids were modest -- warm enough we didn't need wetsuits, but
refreshingly chilly (~58 degrees) to swim in; high and fast enough to get
your heart racing and to avoid the need to use paddles for propulsion and
to avoid nasty rocks, but
significantly lower than the peak. The country was unspoiled dry
chaparral and forest.
The night before and the night after we stayed in the pop 1500 town of
Groveland, and on the second night took the guides out for dinner at a
local Mexican restaurant. If you are ever in Groveland I heartily
recommend the Groveland Hotel (over the Charlotte, which is nice enough).
I took lots of pictures with a waterproof disposable but unfortunately
it flew off my life preserver when I tried to tie it on to take some
action shots in the boat. It is presently in some drinking water resevoir,
no doubt. Hopefully my dad will collect some of the shots the others in
the group took.
I also completed the Sharkfest swim from Alcatraz immediately before
driving up for the rafting trip. I am glad to have jumped back in after
skipping it last year, but the experience has given me some goals for next
year. I'd like to be faster than people under 10 years old, over 70 or
naked. I'd also like to not miss the entrance to aquatic park and have to
struggle against the SF Bay current.