American River rafting, Sierra Nevadas

By Rich Crowder 15 October 2012
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A massive snowmelt and a bunch of whitewater fiends leads to one epic rafting trip.

HIGH IN THE Sierra Nevada mountains of California the famed American River diverges into three separate adventures. The South, Middle and North Fork. The latter is known as the most dangerous and this is where I set my sights.

With towering 900m canyon walls and craggy cliffs on either side, the North Fork sets the scene for what has been called the most beautiful whitewater rafting backdrop in all of California. Black oaks and a variety of pine trees litter the hillsides, making for a truly remote wilderness feel.

Since the mid-1970s the upper reaches of the North Fork have been the play place for a dedicated group of whitewater rafters and kayakers. Today, with whitewater rafting becoming so commercialised, a new subculture of outdoorsmen has emerged. These ”river rats”, as they are commonly called, are an enthusiastic bunch of mates. Coming from all walks of life, they travel the globe following the short whitewater seasons from one wild destination to the next.

… For the full story, grab the Nov-Dec 2012 issue of Australian Geographic Adventure.