Film and photos by Darin McQuoid
Water rushes in the South Fork Feather River every fall. All summer long Little Grass Valley Reservoir stays full of water thanks to a contract between dam operators and homeowners.
As temperatures cool off and precipitation is (hopefully) imminent, the lake is lowered to make room for incoming water.
For eight miles water cascades through remote canyons and fall colors until it’s impounded by a diversion dam that puts the water back to work.
For two to six weeks it’s a mecca for paddlers with fantastic camping, predictable all-day flows and unpredictable weather. As California’s last reliable release ends it’s with strange mix of joy for how good the paddling has been with melancholy over the wait for precipitation.
-- Check out more of McQuoid’s photography, another edit from the High Sierra, and see his latest gear reviews for C&K, including rundowns of seven sleeping pads put to the test, as well as seven sleeping bags.