Frequently Asked Questions
Can't find an answer here? Feel free to call us at (760) 376-3776,
and we can answer all your questions!
First time jitters?
Let us guess: cold sweat beading on your forehead? ... pounding heart
palpitations? ... distraught calls from your mother? Honestly now, get a grip.
Since 1975 we've delivered smiles - billions and billions served. You won't
believe us. Absolutely nothing we say will convince you. But by the end of the
trip you'll be wanting it, "longer, wilder, meaner and ... wetter."
Come along and you'll see. Cheer up!
Just about everything! We provide certified guides and professional
equipment, shuttle busses, sumptuous meals for full day trips, detailed information, lodging and campground
lists, planned itineraries, quality programs, and the confidence that you're
rafting with a "Selected and Legally Permitted Outfitter".
What do I bring?
Calm down please. We keep it simple so you don't get overloaded with
unnecessary paraphernalia. All the main equipment is ours. All you need to show up with is
sunblock and a big grin (and if you forget the
grin, we'll promptly fix you up with one). For early-season trips, wetsuits
may be rented from our Kernville Store for only $10/one day,
What meals are included?
A giant smorgasbord lunch is included with our all-day trips. Prepare to
feast, as you will be surprise at how running the river fuels your appetite.
What about alcohol?
You certainly don't drink and drive. Nor do you get plastered the night
before the big game. In our rafts, we can't have keen, quick wits diminished by
alcohol when tense situations arise. And with alcohol, they definitely will
arise. For safety
there's no drinking during the day. If you must party, please hold off until
our adventure is over.
What if I can't swim?
You're wearing a lifejacket with tremendous buoyancy. Trust it, it always
works. You will be floating like a cork in water.
Can I bring a camera?
Unless your camera is
waterproof . . . leave it ashore, otherwise it will be as wet as you are.
However, professional photographers shoot our trips, and hilarious proofs will
be on view while you drip dry following your adventure.
What do I wear?
The water on the Upper Kern is nippy (like most rivers), more
rambunctious, and you'll be drenched continually. Do beware of extra clothing for, when wet, it
actually will chill you. In the spring wetsuits definitely are needed -
we have over a hundred pair for rent in our Kernville store. We also suggest, for those easily chilled (or for
overcast days), a waterproof jacket or a wetsuit. Since no one is sure about
weather predictions, we can better advise you about clothing the morning of the
trip. And don't forget to wear lots of sunscreen. Once summer clicks in, shorts or bathing suits are standard on the
Kern, and wetsuits aren't needed.
What's a self-bailing raft?
It's a new feature and applies to boats which automatically allow water to
drain out and away through the floor. The floor is inflated as an air mattress
with open grommet holes around the perimeter where it attaches to the raft
walls. Water pours in. Water pours out. It's magic! It's no bailing! It's
a blessed miracle! You'll love it!
What's a paddleboat?
It's a raft maneuvered by individual paddles instead of by a massive set of
oars, wielded by the guide. This distinction many people have difficulty with
but we want you to be extra savvy. Oars are not paddles (sort of like
trucks are not cars). Passengers paddle (like Indians in a canoe)
but would not try and tackle l0-foot-long oars. We expect that all of our
passengers prefer to paddle - whooping and hollering their way downriver.
Paddle boats are standard on the Upper Kern.
What's an oarboat?
Actually it's the same raft but with a metal oar frame and a pair of
l0-foot oars strapped into its center. The massive oars, controlled by one
experienced, guide-brain, generally offer more precision in difficult water. We occasionally may switch, at extreme flows, to oarboats from
paddleboats propelled by crews of passengers prone to periodic panic. For extra
"punching power", oarboats normally have a pair of paddlers up front.
What's a splashyak?
It's the best paddle action we have. If you think a paddle raft is a world
of fun apart from an oar boat, wait until you snuggle your hind end into one of
these. Built like a self bailing, inflatable canoe, these dynamite boats are
low, stable and drenching fun. One hitch: your guide's not in the boat with
you. . .he's next door in another one. But that's what makes them so desirable
- you and a partner are in command of your own boat. We offer splashyaks on our
trips, where they routinely accompany the rest of the passengers in our
rafts. The only hitch with these is that, for your safety, they are only
used if water levels permit.
How do I request which boat I want?
We'll mail information forms for you to complete and send back to us. On
these, you'll give us, among other items, your age, weight and boat preference
(be sure and check the description of each trip to determine which boats are
offered). This way, we can better prepare for your arrival and may, as we
often do, phone you to suggest something perhaps more frisky.
Do I need reservations?
You bet. Trip sizes are limited, and weekends and popular dates fill up months ahead.
The more limited you are for a specific day, such as a birthday or vacation, the
earlier you should phone to ensure your selection (or have alternatives
ready). Deposits are due within 7 days or the space will be released for
others needing it. Final balances are due 6 weeks prior to your trip, or right
away, if your booking date is within six weeks.
What about children?
Rules of thumb: youngsters less than 8 years are best appreciated ashore
where they can't cause an overdose of parental anxiety in an accidental bob
When do we meet?
You will be advised of time and assembly location when you receive your
final documents, after we receive your final payment. But, in general: trips
meet at 9:00 or 10:00am at our Kernville Store. For most Southern
California passengers, this allows you time to drive up that morning.
Is it Safe?
Up here? Pardon us, but our eyes twinkle whenever we hear this innocent
concern from those who each day blithely gun their car onto eight smoking lanes
of frantic freeway traffic. If you can survive L.A., odds up here are certainly
in your favor. Take heart, although whitewater appears, to the never-dampened
novice, like a foaming white cauldron of doom, you're more apt to ding yourself
while whacking a volley ball at the beach. We'll show you.