The record-setting drought in California has been big news lately — at least on the west coast, where it was recently announced that Central Valley farmers will get no water this year from the federal government, and a Gold Rush ghost town hidden underwater since 1955 has resurfaced at the bottom of Folsom Lake.
Most of our rivers depend on snowpack in the Sierra, and the lack of precip this winter not only hurts the state of agribusiness in the rest of the country, it also means no fishing, mediocre skiing, and maybe kayaking (if we’re lucky) in the spring. We might get a week or two of whitewater if we watch the river flows closely, compared to the four-month window we normally get in a good season, and it’ll be a toss-up whether one of our favorite rivers will be running at all this year.
I’ve written about the East Fork Carson before on this blog, and it’s become one of my favorite summertime runs. The river crosses the California border into Nevada and I’ve paddled the 20-mile stretch between Markleeville and Gardnerville every year for the past three years. It’s astonishing to read my first trip report from 2011, where we experienced higher-than-normal snowpack and intense flows as late as July!
While last year wasn’t a particularly strong year for river rapids, we monitored the flow charts for weeks and made our way to Markleeville as soon as we saw a spike in the gauges. The Carson was at average flow in the middle of May 2013, with sunny skies in the forecast and warm breezes at our backs.
We pulled off at the primitive hot spring sites at the halfway point and let me tell you, that first soak after 10 miles of paddling was pure happiness.
Camping on the river is something special. It’s made even more special when paddling is one of the few ways to access this beautiful, tranquil pocket in the Sierra. We saw only two other people the whole weekend. All we could hear at the campsite was the sound of the river rushing past our tents… the occasional bird, the rustle of leaves, the crunch of footsteps passing through our pine-mulched campsite.
I can almost feel the sun on my skin and smell the pine in the air when I think back to those two days we spent on the Carson. Completely free, totally unwound. Take me back, please.
Linda LyFebruary 28, 2014 at 11:43 pm
Wow, fascinating article! Thank you for sharing!
theGardenBettyFebruary 28, 2014 at 3:01 pm
A paddle on one of the most beautiful and tranquil rivers in the Sierra. Take Me Back to the Carson http://t.co/hR8EMqiAp6 #whitewater
theGardenBettyFebruary 28, 2014 at 9:03 am
Kayak camping on one of my favorite summertime runs. Take Me Back to the Carson http://t.co/8eUmC6B1ng #california #whitewater
theGardenBettyFebruary 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm
Will we have California whitewater this year? A look at last year: Take Me Back to the Carson http://t.co/tu2irBoUIB #kayak #camp #travel
BeanpuffFebruary 27, 2014 at 2:43 pm
That pine scent you love may help limit climate change too! Thought you would appreciate a fun fact.
cheriFebruary 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm
Beautiful pics, looks like a great adventure.
Linda LyFebruary 28, 2014 at 11:41 pm
Thank you, and it is!
theGardenBettyFebruary 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm
Paddling 20 miles through the Eastern Sierra from California to Nevada. Take Me Back to the Carson http://t.co/msToLaDMtg #whitewater #kayak
Cary BradleyFebruary 27, 2014 at 6:32 am
Cary Bradley liked this on Facebook.
theGardenBettyFebruary 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
I can almost feel the sun on my skin and smell the pine in the air. Take Me Back to the Carson http://t.co/VadeID6WEg #california #sierra
BG_gardenFebruary 26, 2014 at 9:31 pm
Take Me Back to the Carson:
The record-setting drought in California has been big news lately, at least on th… http://t.co/ey4ZVBwslt
theGardenBettyFebruary 26, 2014 at 9:30 pm
Blogged on Garden Betty: Take Me Back to the Carson http://t.co/Jy4UhScfmu