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The Roots of allaboutrivers.comI've heard many horror stories about bad days on the river due to misjudgements, misinformation, and a whole slough of other things. I have a bundle of those stories myself and I'd like to share one with you.
I was visiting a friend in Northern California in the fall of 1998. We met in Redding, CA and were on our way up the road to attempt Burnt Ranch Gorge on the Trinity River. Although neither of us had done the run before, we had some guide books that gave directions on how to get to the put-in and take-out and had a rough description of the run.
Based on the description, we knew that this run had class IV and V whitewater and would require that we scout several times. We had run similar rivers in the past and had confidence we would be able to navigate the rapids. By the time we had met, had lunch, and run the shuttle it was approaching 4:30 pm. We had approximately 3 hours to do the run. Full of excitement about running a new stretch of river, we quickly decided we had enough time to do the run.
The run proved to be more difficult than we had expected, so to play it safe we scouted the rapids more often. As the sunlight dimmed, we found ourselves deep in the heart of the canyon. We ran lower Burnt Ranch Falls at dusk and assessed our options. Paddle the rest of the run in the dark, hike out, or spend the night on the river. Paddling in the dark didn't seem like a wise decision, and scaling up the nearly vertical canyon walls appeared to be virtually impossible. So, reluctantly we planned to spend the night in the canyon without dry clothes or matches to start a fire.
Our plans for the evening began to unfold. We would prop our boats against rocks in such a fashion so that we could sit in them to stay warm and get some sleep. Needless to say, sitting in a kayak all night long affords little comfort for sleeping. I had all night to make something positive out of the experience.
At about 2 a.m. I finally concluded that with the excitement of the run ahead of us the only way we would have been persuaded to not proceed at the put-in would have been a slap in the face type of reason. A very detailed map or description of the run or a recommendation from a veteran of the Trinity on the amount of time required.
I pondered the question, how do you insert a tidbit of information like that after the book has been published? You could reprint but inevitably the author will have forgotten some other very important piece of information. How could you publish a book so that it could capture comments from locals, so that you could quickly and easily update facts and figures, so that you could post lots of maps, pictures, and maybe even video.
The conclusion: The book must be online. And who better to champion this project than yours truly.
Over the next twelve months the concept grew into an idea and the idea grew into a plan and finally the website arrived on the scene in August of 1999. Since then the site has grown considerably and has received some much needed facelifts.
I welcome you to visit us often and help this creation to be the best resource for river runners.