I'm behind!! I took the boys on a one-night camping/rafting trip in the Sierra Foothills last weekend, and we had SUCH a great time!
This area is in the heart of Gold Country, with the closest town being Coloma CA -- mostly state historical campsites and private campsite resorts.
We had a reservation with a rafting company for an easy 1/2-day trip that accepted kids as young as 6. Many rafting companies understandably drew the line at 7, but this river fork is pretty tame. A perfect introduction.
The rafting company leases some private campground space from large resort, and that's where we camped (far left). Nothing wild; just dirt to set a tent up on. (Our site was in the far left where my car is in this photo.)
We could also buy dinner, lunch and breakfast -- and I was all for it!! Most of my past weekend camping had been with a motorcycle club in which all we brought for camping was bedding -- adding food and cooking gear is 70% of the work. So I was very happy to pay my way out of it this time.
Dinner wasn't formal, but with grilled tilapia, grilled vegetables and salad, I hardly suffered.
After dinner, the boys and I took a walk to look around the resort and other campsites. We were psyched to find this river access, so pretty in the setting sun.
I was quite certain we'd never go through a rapid like this, but little did I know -- it was coming the next day!
Of course, camping isn't complete without marshmallow-roasting.
The next morning, we had camp packed up and we were ready for breakfast in plenty of time. Then we piled onto a school bus for the 1/2-hour ride to the start point. There we got a safety talk and basic lessons in how to deal with the rafts and paddles.
Then it was time to get in the boats! It worked out with the groupings of people that the boys and I got our own boat. That meant they added an adult to our boat, so that there were two adults plus the guide. For us it was great that one of the "extra" adults also happened to be a guide!
They were very careful and conservative, letting the boys set their paddles aside early, especially when it became clear that they couldn't coordinate paddling with the adults (me and another woman guide).
Though Julian was hesitant at first -- and I love this photo of his face -- he totally got into it and really wasn't all that scared!
We stopped at a blackberry-picking spot. This little beach gave us access to a fully-lined bank of wild blackberries. Yum!
Right before the last rapid named "Troublemaker" -- the one we'd seen the night before and figured we wouldn't raft over -- and we did! Here comes the plunge!
We did it! What fun!! The boys were brave and tough and enthusiastic. Thank goodness, because so was I. I LOVED it, even with being blasted with cold water.
Yayyy! What fun!!
Can't wait to do it again -- and some real rapids next time. These were all "class 3" -- nothing to sneeze at as amateurs with a 7yo in the front of the boat, but I'm looking forward to the rough stuff -- with my boys!!