Our son Alex is in 8th Grade so this is his last year at the independent study charter school in Tahoe. For the past 8 years he has had Friday’s “off” for enrichment activities. In the winter, this means ski team. In the fall and spring, this has meant a lot of things over the years like art and science programs at the rec center, volunteer work in the community, hiking, rock climbing, rafting, and, more recently, mountain biking.
Today, Alex and his classmate went mountain biking along the South Fork American River. Crazy, but this is actually the first time in the 30 years we’ve been in the area that someone from our family has mountain biked here! Though we knew it was a great place to ride, we’ve always been so busy on the river that honestly it didn’t occur to us to go (and I’m not much of a mountain biker myself anyways). The boys though are on their middle school mountain bike team in Tahoe so have enough experience to finally head out on their own. Still, given it was their first kid-only ride and we’re in a heat wave, they selected what was listed on the trail map app as a short, easy ride. They headed out early morning to beat the heat.
The ride ended up taking twice as long, or longer, than they expected. They took great photos of this trail along the river, including a birds eye view of Satan’s Cesspool. They also biked down to the river to cool off along the way.
When Aaron picked them up at the end of their through-ride, they seemed happy and proud of themselves, despite being exhausted and thirsty. https://www.coloma.com/biking-cycling/
Turns out mountain biking skills are life skills, just like whitewater rafting is. They learned to apply critical thinking to what they read on a map app, to pack more water than they think they will need, always carry a life straw, and, due to a small mishap, a first aid kit. They don’t know it but they are also building situational awareness for the river. Someday they may need to know how to hike out of the river canyon or otherwise go get help.
Knowing – not just from reading the emergency evacuation procedures provided on commercial rafting trips, but by actually having experienced the river access points and their relation to trails and roads – could be life saving. Someday, Aaron will write his own blog post about needing to hike clients out of the South Fork American river canyon when he was just a first year guide. Knowing where you are matters (having friends know how to come look for you matters too!).
As a treat on the way back to Lotus, Aaron took the boys to their favorite lunch spot, the River Shack, for deli sandwiches and root beer. https://www.yelp.com/biz/river-shack-deli-and-pub-lotus