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As we enter a new year there is nothing I’d like so much as to be on new rivers. Life on the other hand is a game of balance. It’s a year to tip the balance back to family, and spend my first full holiday season stateside in too many years.

It’s not the best year for this. In fact it’s the worst, we turn the new year by recording the driest year in California’s history. Amazingly there are still some options close to our family. The McCloud River is the only river in the state with a natural base flow of at least 600cfs all year long. Unfortunately the poor river only flows a short ways before being put to work in a hydroelectric project. It’s easy to point fingers and complain, but if we don’t have a solution to the problem we’re just more whiny kids. The holidays don’t need more of those, and we enjoy the river for what it is, lake paddle out exercise and all. Flowing through a private estate the McCloud has old growth trees right down to the river, and the easy whitewater lets us enjoy the forested splendor, especially on a Christmas Eve dawn patrol.

Between McCloud floats we also manage to squeeze in two trips on the Upper Klamath River. Good fun splashy whitewater as long as you’re not upside down experiencing the razor sharp volcanic rock. It may not be the best, but all year long it flows.

It’s a beautiful new year on rivers new and old alike.