Day 2 – Coloma, CA

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After going to bed early to make up for Friday night’s sleep deprivation, we woke up bright and early this morning. And I do mean bright – what’s up with the sun coming up at 04:30 when it didn’t set until after 21:00? What is this, Alaska? We were up long before everyone else so we took a walk around the campground and went down to the river to see if the water was on yet. When we got back to camp, we had breakfast and got changed for our watery fun. I’m not sure what time the van left but it was a very interesting ride to the put-in place. There was music blaring (most of which we were unfamiliar with) and people singing and laughing and having great fun. When we got to the river, it took quite a while to blow up the rafts and prepare them for the water. Having never been rafting except on a commercial gig, I was a bit apprehensive, especially since I had presumptions about the rivers out west being much bigger and scarier. We got pretty much the same exact safety talk that we get with our commercial outfitters on the Ocoee, which was actually reassuring. It’s good to know that the private rafters cover the same safety points. The rafting was fun. The American River is very different than the Ocoee, much less intimidating with only 2 and 3 class rapids, but much fun was had. The water was apparently very high and fast. When we got to the take out point, a discussion commenced on whether to go for a second run but since the water was supposed to be turned off at 13:00, it was decided that one run was it for the day. Of course, we did notice that the water didn’t actually go down until closer to 18:00 so we could have easily gotten another run or two in, had we known. But then we would have missed a great deal of excitement. As we were sitting around talking at the campsite, we started to hear sirens and commented on how someone was hurt. A few minutes later, after hearing many more sirens, we noticed the large plume of smoke coming up from the adjacent mountain. We walked up the hill of the campground to see the blaze spreading down our side of the mountain, which was probably a quarter-mile from where we stood. We discussed evacuation plans, should it come to that, while taking pictures of videos of the conflagration. We watched as the observation plane circled the blaze, three helicopters dumped water, and three planes dropped chemical retardant. What a show! After it started to get contained and the campground owner updated us that there would probably not be evacuations for us, we walked down to the river to watch the helicopters dip water. Amazing stuff. Amazing videos. It made for quite the exciting day. We heard news that they had it fully contained but there are still several spots glowing up there tonight.