Once a year, at the end of June (June 25, this year), Tom Morse leads an innertubing expedition at Cache Creek with the Sierra Singles. This stretch of Cache Creek is used by a couple of commercial whitewater rafting / kyaking operations, who have arranged to have the flow cranked up on summer weekends to provide a thrill for the crowds who ride down on the multi-person inflatables.
This also allows for summer fun for freeloaders who show up with their own boats, or, in our case, inner tubes.
After meeting at 7-bloody-20 AM for check-in, we got our stuff together and carpooled up in the general direction of Sacramento, expecting the clouds to break and the temperature to jump as soon as we got over the hills. Nope... when we got to the mini-mart at 505 and 16, the temperature was barely over 70, and we were getting a bit worried about spending 4 hours or so in the creek.
Up to the take-out point, shuffle cars, gear, and people, and on to the put-in point, which is crowded. At least the big commercial operations have their own parking lots downstream, and run shuttles back and forth, so their customers' cars don't fill up the county lot. Pump up tubes, check gear, one last chance to touch up that sunblock, and...
After lunch, we floated on down to a stretch of rapids with a name: "Mother." As is, "I want my mommy!"? What were those rules, again... oh, yes:
- Never draw to an inside straight.
- Never play poker with a man called "Doc."
- Never float down a place called "Mom's."
As is my custom, I got out and walked around, as did four other people - one before I'd reached the get-out-and-walk point, and the rest of us as a group (and we got a late start on our walk, as one person had tried to walk around on the wrong side, and had to get back, and there was one straggler caught in an eddy upstream). Everybody else floated down.
By the time the Chicken Patrol reached the post-Mother gathering point, the rest of the group had apparently sailed without us. So, we last four set out by ourselves.
Yup, there they are, floating through that patch of rapids.
By this time, we're past the take-out points for all the commercial rent-a-raft operations, so, apart from other small groups, we've got the creek to ourselves.
One last look back, in the big calm stretch before the take-out point. The last three are back there somewhere....
Actually, it turns out that one of them (a newcomer) had gotten caught in the last patch of overhanging trees, and separated from her tube; as the others rode to her rescue, one of their tubes got punctured, though it was still afloat when they reached the end.
Another adventure completed without serious injuries: a few scrapes, and plenty of bruises from riding over rocks (I'm being rather careful how I sit today), and there was one apparent case of delayed seasickness, but nothing requiring so much as a Band-Aid.
No, I'm not posting photos of my bruises.
This year, I completely avoided being dumped from my tube! (Though one might argue that bypassing Mother was cheating.) I'm learning some of the tricks (this was my third year), and only got into one of the nasty spots where, it seems, everything on the surface gets dragged through a stretch of overhanging trees and then shot through a sideways standing wave (there are several of these).
Later... much later, after a dinner stop in Winters, and the long drive home... I flopped into bed, closed my eyes, and promptly started having flashbacks, complete with sensations of motion. Whooo!
One last bit of aftermath... I've had a new Product Idea! A new sports gadget to sell to those people with way too much money to spend on gadgets! No details here, but maybe next year I'll have a prototype. As it turns out, is has some technical requirements in common with another product idea I've been playing with, so maybe I'll develop the prototypes in tandem.
Actually, I had multiple product ideas. Here's one that isn't for the big-ticket crowd: innertubes with keels! Well, ballast chambers, anyway. Take one perfectly ordinary nylon-sheathed sport tube; add pockets along the bottom; put ballast (e.g., bismuth shot) in the pockets to make the tube float at the desired height for a given degree of inflation and rider weight. This should add stability, as well as helping smaller riders reach the water to paddle.