Cascading down the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mouintains in Gold country, flows the scenic American River. Just a short drive east of Sacramento or west of Tahoe, the South Fork offers over 30 exhilarating rapids and a great deal of fun and enjoyment.

Back in the early 90’s we tried rafting here for a weekend together with some friends.

Satans Cesspool 1
Satans Cesspool, iiiha!

The South fork of the American River is a delightful mixture of class 2, 3 and 4 whitewater rapids and outstanding scenery of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The water flow on the American is controlled by hydroelectric demand which accounts for the ebb and flow of the river. The length of the gorge section is 6,5 km. Total length of the run is 31,8 km. The average gradient is 6 m. per km.

Satans Cesspool 2
Satans Cesspool, more iiiha!

Rapid descriptions

  • Pillow – Water that i stopped by an underwater or above surface obstruction – water pillows up and appears to be boiling.
  • Hydraulic – Souse Hole – Strong, powerful curler water on surface with a reverse (upstream) flow. Can be hazardous.
  • Eddy – Calm, upstream-flowing water behind an obstruction.
  • C.F.S – Cubic Feet per Second. Accurate measure of Waterflow volume, the more the better.
  • Gradient – The rate which a river drops – usually measured in feet per mile. The steeper the better.
  • Hay Stack – Pyramid shaped wave caused by an underwater obstruction.
  • Curler – Tall wave that falls back on itself.

The different parts of river are given names. Examples are Hospital Bar, Race Horse Bend, Satan’s Cesspool, Meatgrinder, Chili Bar, Triple Threat and Troublemaker.

One rapid was named Big Dog because a woman wearing shorts with the brand Big Dog, fell of the raft and got stuck with her shorts on a branch sticking up in the rapid. Inspite the strong current, the Big Dog shorts could stand the pressure and she could be picked up safe and sound.

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