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Late Summer Thrills on the American River

Whitewater thrills of the Troublemaker rapid on the American River
Whitewater thrills of the Troublemaker rapid on the American River
David Steutel/Hotshot Imaging

Summer came to a very pleasant end last week with a two-day "first week of school" class bonding trip on the South Fork of the American, with an overnight at Lotus Campground.

Big thrills in Satan's Cesspool
Big thrills in Satan's Cesspool
Jordan Golnik/Hotshot Imaging

Kelsey, our amiable guide with veteran rafting outfit All Outdoors, expertly guided our boatload of eighth graders, their teachers and a few parent chaperones down the stream, navigating numerous Class II and III rapids, including three especially big ones: Satan's Cesspool, Hospital Bar and Troublemaker.

We survived all three, and the numerous smaller ones along the way, all while enjoying swimming sessions, plenty of horseplay with the other boats, and lunches along the riverside. There was plenty of leisurely float time to soak the the Sierra scenery, and, after the trip, we visited the air conditioned Hotshot Imaging office in little Lotus to select out our favorite images of the big three rapids. Hotshot's daring photographers, who shoot all day from rocky outcroppings above the rapids then paddle the images down the river in little river kayaks, tempt rafters with amazing images that are as precious as gold nuggets. Here are some of their photos of our Little Gray Boat That Could.

All Outdoors, (925) 932-8993, www.aorafting.com.

Hotshot Imaging, 7308 Hwy 49, Unit E, Lotus; (530) 621-0400, www.hotshotimaging.com.