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Tahoe Nugget #173

Kayaking Hampshire Rocks
May 18, 2009

A strong ridge of high pressure is pumping up the temperatures in northern California and Nevada to near record highs, about 20-25 degrees above normal. Yesterday's temps ranged from the 80s in the Sierra, to the 90s in Nevada, and up to 106 degrees in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. On average, Sacramento doesn't usually have its first 100 degree day until June 19.

Several high temperatures records were broken across the area yesterday, including at Lovelock, Yerington, Markleeville and Mammoth Lakes. All but one of those records was set way back in 2008. In fact, virtually all of the region's high temperature records for the date occurred one year ago.

The warm temperatures are rapidly melting off what's left of the 2009 winter snowpack. April was dry and contributed little to help the precipitation deficit throughout the region. Half the snowpack is now gone from its peak in early April and streamflow forecasts range from 60% to 76% on the Truckee, Carson and Walker, the three main rivers that drain the eastern Sierra into the Great Basin.

Most rivers on the Sierra west slope are near their peak flows for the season and although mountain rivers can be deadly this time of year, rafters and kayakers are in heaven. On my way back from Sacramento yesterday I exited Interstate 80 to cruise Highway 40 (old Lincoln Highway) which runs parallel to the south fork of the Yuba River. The frigid water was roaring on Sunday and I was fortunate to catch some intrepid kayakers shooting rapids at Hampshire Rocks.

The area is called Hampshire Rocks because the polished granite reminded early pioneers of the "Granite State" New Hampshire. This beautiful spot is also popular for hiking, picnicking, camping and swimming.

Photo #1: The best action is downstream from this sign.
Photo #2: Granite bedrock of Yuba River's south fork.
Photo #3: Kayaks ready to go.
Photo #4: Kayaker in the froth.
Photo #5: Private residence in the middle of the river.
Photo #6: Boaters enter the water by sliding down the rock.
Photo #7: No turning back now.
Photo #8: Group of kayakers recently arrived from United Kingdom chose to portage past risky white water.
Photo #9: Only one English kayaker entered the chute.
Photo #10: About now he's wondering why he didn't bring a snorkel.
Photo #11: Last bump in the series.
Photo #12: Made it!

Nugget #173 A Hampshire Rocks Sign 2

Nugget #173 B Hampshire Rocks & Yuba River

Nugget #173 C Kayaks Ready to go

Nugget #173 D Kayaker in Flight

Nugget #173 E Glacier Gap House

Nugget #173 F Off the Rock

Nugget #173 G No Turning Back

Nugget #173 H Kayak Portage

Nugget #173 I In the Pipe

Nugget #173 J Where's My Snorkel

Nugget #173 K Glub Glub

Nugget #173 L Made it

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