The River

Day 2 of Adventure Week consists of an all day raft ride down the Middle Fork of the American River. Our guides today are Sam and Courtney, two wonderful young people whose knowledge of the river and history of the area is as rich as the canyon we are in.

The middle fork of the American River runs class III and IV rapids with a portage past a class VI. The section of the river that we raft down is about 18 miles and starts out with a “Good Morning” rapid that splashes you with icy water first thing in the morning. Soon after, we encounter the “Tunnel Chute.” Blasted out by gold miners back in the 1800s to divert the river away from the famous Horse Shoe Bend, the river is squeezed into a 12-foot cascading spillway that continues for 100 feet. Then the river flows underground through a raftable tunnel.

The Tunnel Chute

The Tunnel Chute

Once it has emerged from the tunnel, the Middle Fork races over five miles of rapids, climaxing in “Kanaka Falls,” a class IV maelstrom that tests each of us to the fullest.

The river then mellows and enters a quiet side where we have a chance to relax and enjoy the scenic side of the Middle Fork. These are a series of easy class II rapids and we even get to take our helmets off. We stop for a wonderful lunch and relax and take in the natural beauty of the canyon.

Near the end of the quiet side, the silence is interrupted by a deafening roar. The final stretch of river begins with a sharp 5-foot drop and an intricate portage of an unrunnable Class VI waterfall. We end in a long succession of exciting Class III-IV rapids.

The river run is full of exciting rapids at the beginning and the end, but the middle is quite mellow. Its a nice addition to Adventure Week, but not up to the thrill level of bungee jumping, although it was quite fun and I met a number of wonderful people.

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The Aqueduct

The Aqueduct

The Aqueduct

The Catwalk

The Catwalk

The aqueduct is a 120′ tall steel structure that spans the Bear River in the Eldorado National Forest. Nothing but a narrow maintenance catwalk along the edge affords purchase to anyone who braves its structure. It is from this catwalk that a leap of faith will be made.

I climb up to the catwalk from the river below; a long, steep, slippery climb which leaves me out of breath and with my heart racing before I even get to the catwalk. Approaching it, I take a minute to relax, catch my breath and center myself.

I must not fear…

I walk onto the catwalk and greet my handlers. I sit down onto the catwalk as they strap the ankle harnesses onto my legs and attach the bungee chords. The chords are tossed over the edge. I can feel their weight pulling on my legs.

Fear is the mind killer.

I slip under the safety rail and pull myself up to a standing position with my back to the open sky. Final systems checks are made, pictures are taken and instructions are given.

Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.

I turn my body around to look out at the chasm of water and stone and sky. My arms are wrapped around the safety rail behind me. I can feel the muscles in my arms go taut. They are all that keeps me from going over the edge and plummeting below.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

The Gorge

The Gorge

Everything gets very quite. I can hear the river rushing past the granite boulders below me. A hawk flies past in search of prey. Everything is very still except for the beating of my heart.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. 

Somewhere in the back of my consciousness I can hear the team leader begin his countdown… MY countdown.

5…4…3…2…

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

How long is the space between heartbeats? Within that space, I become conscious of every little thing about myself; the tension in my arms, the weakness in my knees, and above all other things… the realization that I am truly ALONE.

Only I will remain.

…1

My body leans forward over the edge, straining the muscles in my arms to their limits. And just before that next heart beat occurs…

I let go…

Adding another adventure

OK, so here is an easy one! Zip-lining in the costal redwoods! Sonoma Canopy Tours still has plenty of spaces for a great zip lining adventure on Monday, July 2nd. I have not booked it yet but that is the date I am looking at. Who can i get to join me to experience 7 adrenaline-pumping ziplines, one almost 800 feet long, 2 sky bridges with picturesque views, a majestic spiral staircase, and a rappel back to the forest floor? Its only a 2 and a half hour long adventure! Come on! Let’s DO IT!

Second Adventure…

OK Since we will be up in the Sierra on Saturday, June 30th for Bungee Jumping, we might as well stay overnight and Raft the Middle fork of the American River!

So Adventure #2 will be a full day rafting trip on the Middle fork of the American River (Class 3 and 4 rapids.) If we can get spots with a specific vendor, they also have camp grounds so we can camp Saturday night and they meet at the campsite to shuttle to the river.

Wow, this is looking to be a hell of a week!