Owens River


By: Maris Valkass


Owen's River in a Barrel

From an oversubscribed trip as late as two days before, the trip went - with only half (9) of the original subscribers. The uncertain weather scared away some, while others had to work unexpectedly on Saturday.

Spectacular white thunderheads over the Sierras and White Mountains greeted us Saturday morning, but the Valley was clear and sunny. The air temperature was cooler than expected in August, I estimated at 75 F.

The inner tubes were inflated at an ARCO station in Bishop, which saved considerable amount of time. We were ready to launch at 10 am where the river crosses Hwy 6, near Laws. (6mi NE of Bishop)

The river was as high as it probably has ever been, with the current moving in places at an estimated 4mph. As the air temperature was cooler than expected, the water temperature was so much warmer. Perhaps in the mid 60's. Some participants brought wet suits as was suggested, this paid off as the others became quite cold by the end of the day. An alternate to wet suit could be a wool or polypro long underwear plus a windbreaker top. If the air temperature had been around 100 as it normally is, cold would not have been a problem.

The ride on the river is scenic and relaxing. Although we did not see any animals along the way, there was plenty of bird life all around. The view of the mountains, clouds and trees was wonderful.

The river meanders unbelievably. To get to our lunch spot, where Line St crosses the river (E of Bishop) took us 3 hours. As the crow flies the distance is approximately 3 miles. By 6 pm, after the sun went behind clouds we decided to terminate the trip. This point was Warm Springs Rd which is 3 miles short of Collins Rd, our original goal. This place probably is a better place to stop, because the day would be too long if continuing to Collins. After the 3 mile walk to the cars, and completing the shuttle, by 8 pm we were heading for a campground near Big Pine. While setting up camp and cooking dinner, we watched a fine display of lightning.

We decided that we had enough of the river, and that we would sleep in, fix a good breakfast and then visit the Laws RR Museum, which we did. On our way back we stopped at Keough Hot Springs (Ditch) ending pleasantly a very enjoyable weekend. While driving past the Wildlife Viewpoint, we saw a large herd of Tule elk.

My thanks to Ben Preyer for assisting me on the trip, and everyone for cooperating, helping, and otherwise making the trip enjoyable. The participants: Carl Brodene, Susan Flynn, Charles and Kathy Gooley, Martha Flores, Sondra James, Daphne Mahove, and Maris Valkass.

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