Category Archives: Kayaking

Pit River Whitewater Draws Kayakers

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on August 15 and 16, PG&E  increased water flows to 1500 cubic feet per second (cfs) from Pit 5 to the J.B. Black Powerhouse. Fifty-five kayakers came from as far away as Reno to enjoy the opportunity to ride class III, IV, and V rapids over the 9.3 mile stretch.

Kayakers from Reno

Kayakers from Reno

Kayakers entered the Pit at the Madesi River Acccess and paddled downstream past Big Bend to a take out point at J.B. Black Powerhouse.

Madesi River Access

Madesi River Access

I was hoping to get some good shots of young adventurers navigating the whitewater. I couldn’t get away on Saturday or early Sunday. However, knowing that the flow would be high until 4 p.m., I left Burney at 2 p.m. hoping to get the last kayakers as they rode the rapids above the bridge at Big Bend.

White water flows above Big Bend

White water flows above Big Bend

I heard a lady squeal as she splashed in and out of the cold water under the bridge. I also saw a man wading into the river for a dip up at the bend above the rapids. I waited patiently for half an hour, but no kayakers came.

Man wading into the Pit for a dip

Man wading into the Pit for a dip

I walked over to the Big Bend store to ask where the kayakers were putting in. There I met Colby Elliot who had just finished his last run and was getting ready to drive back to his home in Chester. He was beaming. I asked how the ride was. He said, “Awesome.”

Colby Elliot from Chester

Colby Elliot from Chester

I met more kayakers exuberated by their experience and got directions to the Madesi River Access. I had never been there. It was still only 3:30 so I decided to drive up and take a look.

When I arrived, I met a woman named Susan Stalcup. She was sitting at a picnic table filling out forms on a clipboard. Stalcup told me that she had been monitoring the event.

Pit River Reach Whitewater Flow

Pit River Reach Whitewater Flow

She works for Spring Rivers, a company that provides biological and physical assessments of aquatic and riparian ecosystems. When PG&E raises the flow and kayakers come to ride the whitewater, PG&E subcontracts to Spring River to monitor the event. They monitored the event at three locations. Susan recorded the kayakers as they entered the river. There was one person below the bridge at Big Bend. The third recorded the kayakers as they came out of the river. This serves two purposes. It measures use and it provides a safety aspect.

Stalcup said that the kayaking was finished for the day. Twenty-seven kayakers had come on Saturday and 28 had participated on Sunday. Kayakers began gathering at the Madesi access at 8 a.m. and started kayaking around 10 a.m.. On Saturday, they continued kayaking until 4 p.m., but on Sunday, because they needed to drive home, they left earlier. That’s why I missed them.

After Stalcup left, I decided to just sit and enjoy the river. It was wonderful to see the river so high and the current so strong. PG&E periodically provides these whitewater flows in compliance with their licensing provisions for the “Pit 3, 4, and 5 Project” under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

High river flow below Madesi

High river flow below Madesi

As I sat musing, a camper, Nick O’Neill, drove in and went over to read the whitewater notification sign posted by PG&E. He had come up from the East Bay Area with a dozen or so of his buddies to fish and go tubing. They hadn’t been able to go tubing because of the high flows. I told him that PG&E had begun to decrease the flows at 4 p.m and the flows gradually return to about 450 cfs.

Nick O'Neill from Calistoga

We stood watching the river. No apparent decrease yet, but we saw four or five large fish jumping in the river. He was looking forward to fishing. His friends were eager to go out on the river in their tubes.

On September 12 and 13, PG&E increases the flows again to 1200 cfs for another whitewater event. I will be there and I will come early.

Kayakers ride the Pit

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Filed under Kayaking, PG&E, Pit River

Steve Knoch recounts Knoch family and Fall River history

The Knoch family has been living in Pit River Country for four generations. Steve Knoch lives in Glenburn. His great-grandfather, Friedrich came to New York in 1867, then went to Panama, crossed the isthmus to the Pacific Ocean and sailed up to San Francisco.

After spending some time looking for gold in Feather River country, he came to Fall River and began working for Captain William H. Winter, the “founder of Fall City.” Friedrich and his brother-in-law Dietrich made improvement to and ran the toll road and bridge that led to Burney Valley.  They had a stage station and small hotel in Carbon. Knoch received the land which became the Knoch Ranch from Winter in payment for money owed for working on the toll road.

Here Steve recounts some of the story as it has come down the family and also comments on various other topics of historical interest.

Part 1

Part 2:

Part 3

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Filed under Baum Lake, Fall River, Fall River Mills, Kayaking, Pacific Crest Trail, PG&E, Pit River Area History

Flatwater Kayaking in Pit River Country

Article by Alex Colvin 05/27/15 — As the Pit River flows through eastern Shasta County, it is fed by the springs and streams of Fall River Valley and Hat Creek, creating numerous delightful locations for flatwater kayaking. Ahjumawi State Park, Baum Lake, Lake Britton, and selected areas of the Pit River around Hwy. 299 provide opportunities to experience natural beauty and wildlife while paddling serenely over the water.

Deer, raccoons, coyote, otters, muskrat, and beaver thrive in the area. Bald eagles, osprey, and a variety of hawks soar above. American pelicans, egrets, great blue heron, grebes, geese, and ducks frequent the waters. The area offers incredible views of the Cascades, including Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen.

Ahjumawi is a word from the language of the Pit River Native Americans who inhabit the area. It means “Where the waters come together.” Water from the snowmelt of Medicine Lake Volcano forms one of the largest systems of underground springs in the country. These springs feed over a billion gallons of water a day into Eastman Lake, Big Lake, Tule River, Ja-She Creek, Lava Creek, and Fall River.

Donna Sylvester's grandaughter Lexi on Baum Lake - Photo by Donna Sylvester

Donna Sylvester’s grandaughter, Lexie, on Baum Lake, photo by Donna Sylvester

According to Donna Sylvester, certified Kayak instructor and owner of Eagle Eyes Kayak, “Spring and early summer is the best time to Kayak, especially on Lake Britton and Ahjumawi State Park. Baum Lake is great anytime!” Sylvester instructs and guides kayakers on waterways in the Pit River area. She has 21 kayaks, so she can provide a kayak tailored to the skill, safety, and comfort of each person. For visitors to the area who want to kayak but don’t need a guide, she provides rentals.

The Jiminez Family Kayaking - Photo by Donna Sylvester

The Jimenez Family kayaking, photo by Donna Sylvester

Recently, on May 24, Sylvester guided Paul Jimenez, his wife Lily, and his two cousins Paz and Anna Ruth on a kayak trip in Ahjumawi State Park. Jimenez said he was very pleased at how patiently Sylvester instructed them. The group paddled through Horr Pond up the Tule River to Ja-She Creek. Along the way, Jimenez saw deer, ducks including a cinnamon teal, a white egret, a blue heron, pelicans, geese, a muskrat, and a sunbathing snake. He was also very impressed by the beautiful views of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen. After returning to his home in San Mateo and reflecting on the experience, Jimenez says, “Mejor seria imposible.” (Better would have been impossible!)

To learn more about Eagle Eyes Kayak click here.

Alex Colvin is co-owner of The Lace Gallery in Burney, California. He previously wrote for non-profit corporations in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Since returning to Burney, where he has deep family roots, Alex and his wife Linda have dedicated themselves to exploring and photographing the natural beauty of Northern California.

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Filed under Ajumawi State Park, Baum Lake, Crystal Lake, Fall River, Hat Creek, Kayaking, Pit River Area History, Pit River Tribe