Whitewater fun on a convenient run
August 9, 2008
Take a tour on the lower Truckee River, Lake Tahoe’s only natural outlet. The six-mile, two-hour Class II-III trip begins at the historic Boca site just east of Truckee, where logging, a world-famous brewery and a bustling ice industry held sway in the early 1900s.
After a safety talk on shore, paddlers warm up with a quick jaunt on the Little Truckee River, practicing turns and “high sides” under the tutelage of trained guides.
Three outfitters operate on this section, known as the Floriston Run.
“It’s a more exciting option than a float, and we expect to have good flows through September,” said Frank Wohlfahrt, co-owner of Lake Tahoe Central Adventures/Truckee Whitewater Adventures.
The lower section’s flow is bolstered by several major tributaries, including Bear Creek, Squaw Creek, Donner Creek, Martis Creek and the Little Truckee River.
Once the Little Truckee merges with the Truckee, the pace picks up. Fast-moving waves splash crystal clear through Class II rapids. The elevation drops as the river continues to tumble downstream, toward its ultimate end at Pyramid Lake.
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The scenery is heightened by hoodoo rock formations, the occasional bald or golden eagle and increasing canyon wall ” a cocoon from the busy world above.
The Truckee River constricts into the Floriston Gorge, squeezing the flow into a stretch of Class III whitewater, which starts with the rapid called Jaws. It’s a big drop flanked by two looming black rocks. Not a problem ” usually.
Here, commands crank up a notch, paddlers pump it up and maneuver the remaining mile of big waves, rushing water and granite boulders.
When the rapids end, so does the river run.
The boaters, still feeling the affects of whitewater-induced adrenaline, tend to “high paddle,” slap the river with a resounding paddle thwack and call it another good day.
The Boca-Floriston Run parallels Interstate 80 and is the most advanced run on the Truckee, with the quarter-mile, technical Class III Bronco Rapid providing the most excitement just before takeout.
– Lake Tahoe Central Adventures/Truckee Whitewater Adventures: 581-1767
– Tahoe Whitewater Tours: 581-2441
– Tributary Whitewater Tours: (530) 346-6812
Class I: Easy. Fast-moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.
Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels that are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class II+”.
Class III: Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves that may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class III -” or “Class III+” respectively.
” American Whitewater Association