Friday, March 31, 2017

Whitewater Kayaking the Eel River

As we head into spring, many Californians are rain or snow weary.  It is amazing how just 1 year ago, most of the state was considered to be in severe drought conditions.  Drought or flood seems to be the long standing weather record in California.  There isn't much we can do about it but go with the flow.
Eel River Whitewater Kayaking
Whitewater kayaking on the Eel River.  Photo by Liquid Fusion Kayaking
Whitewater kayaking in California literally follows the same trend.  The drought years make for slim picking for whitewater rivers.  Dam release waters like the South Fork of the American (SFA) often become everyone's staple since it is the only thing running.  Many novice boaters learn the C2G run and that becomes their go-to weekend run.  Intermediates will venture into the Gorge and/or Chili Bar.  This year with the record snow fall in the Sierras, these go-to runs on the South Fork of the American are going to be flowing at epic high flows.  This is going to be a lot of fun for those with the skill and nerve; however, it is going to be too much water for SFA's usual crowd of novice and intermediate paddlers.

This spring, Mendocino County's Eel River is going to be a great option for kayakers whose normal staple is the South Fork American.
Whitewater Kayaking on Eel River
Whitewater river runners enjoy a variety of surf waves on the Eel River. Photo by Liquid Fusion Kayaking
The Eel River is an often overlooked whitewater gem.  The Eel has many personalities and something for all classes of whitewater enthusiasts.  The moving water on the Eel ranges from class I through class V (flat, moving water through steep, difficult whitewater).  
whitewater kayaking Eel River
Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Jeff Laxier whitewater kayaking on the Eel River. Photo by Chris Hansen
It has roadside stretches for day trips and easy shuttle logistics and wilderness stretches for multi-day kayak camping trips.  
Whitewater multiday kayak trip
Spring kayak camping trip on the Eel River. Photo by Liquid Fusion Kayaking
The boating season depends on the rainfall in the area and snow pack and run off from Mendocino National Forest.  It is difficult to say what is typical, but usually we are kayaking on it December through May.
Eel River Whitewater Kayak
Jerry Albright enjoys an early fall run on the Eel River.  Photo by Liquid Fusion Kayaking
Jeff and I love the Eel River and are really excited about kayaking on it this spring.  The ground is saturated and gushing, and we expect to have good flows on the Eel this spring.
Spring is our favorite time of the year on the Eel.  Longer days, warm weather, and wildflowers are a real treat.  We have 2 whitewater kayak classes on the Eel coming up.  April 15-16 is our Precision River Running Class for Intermediate Whitewater Kayakers to build their river running skills.  May 13-14 is a Whitewater Kayak Class for novice whitewater kayakers.
Whitewater kayak class Eel River
Liquid Fusion Kayaking Whitewater Class on the Eel River. Photo by Mark Boyd
Private whitewater kayak lesson Eel River
Liquid Fusion Kayaking guides private trips on the Eel River.
Want to know more about the Eel River, CaCreeks is a website with information on many of the Eel's Runs.  Also Dan Menten has a new book The New School Guide to Northern California Whitewater that has lots of information on the Eel and other Northern California Rivers.

I also am planning to write a series of stories and information on my favorite stretches of the Eel.  Subscribe to my Woman on Water Blog for that series.
Eel River Whitewater Kayak
Liquid Fusion Kayaking Instructor Cate Hawthorne whitewater kayaking on the Eel River. Photo by Mark Boyd