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Back to the American Rivers in Aquafur

Updated: Jan 1

Co-Owner Chet Olson grew up in Rocklin, California and developed his love for kayaking on the American rivers. After moving away, he had not been back to the American rivers for more than a decade. It was time to go back, and this time with another owner of the company, his son Brock. The goal was to run the South Fork, Middle Fork and North Fork all in our quick trip.

The first day was an ambitious 20+ mile paddle of the entire South Fork of the American River from Chili Bar to the Salmon Falls bridge. A true classic. Chet was in a hardshell and Brock was in an inflatable kayak. The day was perfect drysuit weather. A warm 80 degrees under the beautiful California sunshine mixed with an early runoff of crisp cold water. The drysuits made for a perfectly comfortable day, breathing well in the heat, and keeping us perfectly dry and warm in the cold water.

Brock Olson paddling in Aquafur

For Chet, it was a flashback of memories running the rapids he grew up on as a kid. Meatgrinder, Maya, Troublemaker, Satan's Cesspool, and our standout favorite, Hospital Bar. For Brock, it was a chance to do what he does best; lead the rapids and hit every big line he could find. It was a long day on the water but one of the paddling days you don’t forget, Simply amazing. At the end of the run at takeout salmon falls bridge, both were dry and warm even after spending all day kayaking and playing in the water.

The next day, the plan was to head to the Middle Fork and see the infamous Tunnel Chute rapid along with Rucka Chucky and others. Unfortunately, the dam was not releasing enough water so plans had to be altered. It was back to the South Fork, which neither Chet or Brock minded at all. This time just the upper section from Chili Bar to the park at Lotus. Just running the upper section gave opportunity for more surfing, swimming, and a long lunch on the rocks at Troublemaker rapid. It was another amazing day on the water feeling comfortable, confident

Brock paddling through the North Fork American River

and safe in our drysuits. After a couple days of boating on the South Fork, Chet noticed many changes to the canyon including more homes and development. Thankfully many sections of the river had been preserved and remained in a wild state. This was due to a huge effort of the American River Conservancy group. For years they have worked with various organizations both public, private, and government to preserve this amazing stretch of river. Shout out to their efforts and the people behind keeping the American Rivers wild. An earlier take out allowed for a slight detour before heading to the North Fork American. A stop at Lorenzo’s Mexican restaurant in Loomis which has been in business for around 30 years and one of Chet’s favorites from his youth. The margaritas and chimichangas were simply amazing.

The final day of the trip was the beautiful North Fork American which is a wild river relying on all runoff for flow. The water is a beautiful emerald green and very clear. In the spring, the whitewater is phenomenal, and in the summer the hiking, swimming, snorkeling and fishing are amazing as well. The day was filled with more solitude and remoteness than the previous few days on the South Fork. The North fork is a steep canyon making development very difficult.

Troublemaker Rapid and Brock Olson

Brock paddled perfectly, while Chet struggled more than usual finding himself upside down several times in his hardshell. His eskimo roll did not fail him however and his lifelong pursuit of kayak zen continues. Lunch was spent on one of the many beautiful rocky spots where Brock spent his time swimming up an eddy and out into the current at the bottom of a rapid. Ride the end of the rapid and then swim back up for more. At the takeout there was a very little surf wave that made for long glassy surfs. Chet has found the waves don’t need to be huge for enjoyment. This one made for beautiful carves, long surfs, and a content soul. After carrying the boats to the road, there was more swimming in the beautiful waters of the North Fork.

On the drive home, both Chet and Brock talked endlessly about when we would be coming back. The American’s have a way of soaking into your blood and always calling you back for more.


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