63 F

Davis, California

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Helter swelter

For those cringing at the thought of stepping outside air-conditioned classrooms and into the scorching sun, it might be time to plan a trip to somewhere refreshingly cool. Although there isn’t a beach in sight, local options for sweaty Davisites looking for a dip include white water rafting, inner tube floating, water parks and swimming in local pools. 

Outdoor Adventures White Water Rafting

Price: around $60 for Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) members

Distance from Davis: 75 minutes

Outdoor Adventures (OA) hosts rafting trips at the Class III South Fork on the American River every weekend through September. Guided trips start at Camp Lotus and end 12 miles later at Folsom Lake.

OA caps each trip at 42 people, with only six people per raft. Each raft has a trained guide.

“The guide is actually steering the boat and it is his or her job is to avoid obstacles,” said Sean Mula, recent international relations graduate and OA white water rafting guide.

Mula said many other private rafting companies do not have guides certified in swift water rescue training and charge around $120 for a similar trip.

The trip begins with an introduction to basic paddling techniques and commands, followed by a practice session on Class II novice rapids. After lunch, participants enter the five-mile Gorge stretch that contains Class III intermediate rapids, such as Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar.

Of the six classes of rapids, Class II rapids have wide, clear channels and require little maneuvering. Class III rapids have moderate and irregular waves, sometimes with strong eddies and powerful currents.

Mula said that although minor scrapes may occur on trips, serious injuries are unusual.

“I have heard of other [OA] trips where people have gotten concussions, but it’s very rare. Safety is the number one priority. You’re getting a qualified guide that’s trained,” Mula said.

As an escape from the Davis heat, Mula suggested rafters spend part of a weekend camping and rafting.

“The river right now is nice and cool, and you can spend the night in Placerville camping,” Mula said.

For students interested in pursuing rafting beyond basic lessons, Mula recommended applying for guide training in the spring, where guide trainees spend their spring break on the American River.

Rafters can also attend OA’s Klamath rafting trip in the Klamath National Forest from September 2 to 4, at which attendees experience Class V rapids.

Mula advised rafters to come on any OA trip with an open mind and a willingness to ask questions.

“Bring a good, hearty lunch and come with a great attitude and just be willing to learn about the river,” Mula said. 

American River Inner Tube Floating

Price: around $15 for an inner tube at Target

Distance from Davis: 75 minutes

Inner tube floating can be an inexpensive and more relaxing alternative to white water rafting. Floaters need only buy or borrow an inner tube or inflatable furniture and drive over to the American River, once the waters are calm.

Mula said floating is ideal once the water level drops. Depending on the conditions of the river, this should happen in a few weeks.

For Neil Derr, recent economics and international relations graduate, floating is a good way to stay cool during the summer and a casual way to spend time with friends.

“In the summer, the water’s still pretty cold but if it’s hot enough out, it’s pretty nice,” Derr said. “On Fridays and Saturdays there’s probably more college kids than during the week, so it’s more chill.” 

Raging Waters Sacramento

Price: $30 day pass, plus a $10 parking fee

Distance from Davis: 30 minutes

Located at the California Exposition and State Fair in Sacramento, Raging Waters is a local water park with 25 attractions. The park is open every day this summer until August 16 and every weekend until September 11.

Raging Waters is known for its Dragon’s Den tube slide, which takes riders down a five-story course, and its Honolulu Half Pipe tube ride, a four-story “wave” that drops riders down a steep surface in a near free-fall. Additional water features include body and inner tube slides, the Calypso Cooler lazy river and Breaker Beach wave pool. 

UC Davis Recreation Pool Swimming

Price: free for ARC members, $2 for continuing students

Distance from Davis: Located across from Hutchison Field 

While Davis has four public city pools and three university pools, the UC Davis Recreation Pool (Rec pool) is a student-accessible area for recreational swimming.

Anna Paula Garay, senior psychology major and cashier at the Rec Pool, said that compared to other pools in Davis, the Rec Pool is a calmer setting.

“It’s a more relaxed environment, and more of a place to hang out with friends,” Garay said.

According to Garay, weekends around 3 p.m. are the busiest times at the Rec Pool. As a way to combat the heat, Garay advised swimmers to bring sunblock and water.

“You can also bring food in because we don’t have a snack bar,” Garay said.

For those desiring to learn to swim or to improve their technique, the Rec Pool offers beginning and intermediate adult lessons at $46 for ARC members for six sessions. 

GRACE BENEFIELD can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here