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Canoeing and Kayaking

On the depleted Kern River, rafting companies look to ride out the drought

On the depleted Kern River, rafting companies look to ride out the drought

Darron Nilsson navigated his truck down a dirt road to the Kern River. The trail, less traveled this year, opened up to a dusty clearing at the water's edge. Here, if the snowpack had not amounted to 5% of normal this spring, if the drought hadn't been so unforgiving for three winters, if white-water rafting didn't depend on, well, more water, Nilsson and his staff would be launching hundreds of rafters into the rushing rapids. Instead, water levels are a 10th of what they could be, and Nilsson had to cancel his rafting season for the first time since he opened shop more than a decade ago. He could hear the first rapid around the corner — once a roaring...

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