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Fun on the Stan on a bright November Day
by Marguerite Young 11/30/2007


On Sunday November 4, 24 of us in all manner of floating craft met up at the ranger station in Knights Ferry on the Stanislaus for a great day on the river. This is the Class I+- II run just below the Class IV-V Goodwin Canyon Run. The water level was pretty low at 250 cfs (ranges from 200-800 cfs are runnable), and temperature were in the high 70's promising a delightful day of paddling. This is a great family float trip, with clear waters, wooded banks and even some cliffs (with swallow nests). Ben, nine, acted as unofficial trip leader was able to be the lead kayaker for much of the day. Clark Watry, a local fisheries biologist was on hand in a small oar rig with his wife and 3 yr old son to tell us about the river habitat. There are a numerous riffles and one bona fide but easily portaged fun class II double dog leg rapid called Russian Rapid (trail clearly marked on river left) about a mile into the trip. In our group the canoe and 3 of our 5 kayaking kids (Natasha, Simon, and Amado) portaged. A perfect lunch spot on river left below this affords opportunities for surfing the bottom wave before or after lunch. There are a few places where the current pushes into potential strainers but these are easily avoided and at this low level a few places with river wide gravel bars you'll have to grind your way over. For entertainment and rescue practice, Josie and Tom dumped their canoe a couple of times, and Ben did some roll practice, otherwise all managed to stay dry and upright. At least half our group spotted a salmon, and others saw herons and swallows. While in recent years one could expect to see hundreds of salmon on a paddle down this stretch on a November day, this year, only a tenth of the typical numbers are spawning. So far this season, only 300 and 350 fish have been tallied, compared to the thousands of salmon counted annually in recent years-- perhaps the lowest since the early 90's. Over the past couple of years restoration efforts have improved spawning beds but a low juvenile survival rate 3-5 years ago means low numbers returning this year. We'd like to organize more of these easy waters trips to introduce kids to paddling, and take advantage of the river's slower pace to enjoy nature, and conversation with fellow paddlers. If you'd like to join us, (all welcome) or help organize a trip please contact me at myben@sbcglobal.net. Here's who we had along for the fun- Raft I: Clark, wife Susan, and 3 year old Aidan (on his first river trip) in lead raft Raft II : Susan Kegley in her raft made just right for paddling a crew of Chris, Andy, Matt and Alma with part time kayakers Amado and Shelagh taking turns. Raft III: Kevin and his wife with dog in their raft IKs: Steve and Don IKs Our sole canoe: Josie and Tom And last but not least in hardshells: Marguerite and Ben (9), Jessica with daughters Natasha (12) and Kirsten (10), Peter with son Simon (9 and first time on the river); Amado (12) and mom Shelagh taking turns; Ingrid Gennity and Pat Von Behren, extra Angels.



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