Eight people have died on the Kern River since March
Several years of drought had severely depleted the Kern, a popular whitewater rafting destination known for its dramatic rapids. But this year’s wet winter created a record Sierra Nevada snowpack, and the melt has engorged the river with swift, frigid water.
The Kern is now “a different monster,” Williams said.
Adding to the danger of the icy waters and powerful currents is a simple reality: Visitors have forgotten what the Kern looked like before the drought.
Believing the river to be as placid as it was last summer, they have flocked here with inflatable rafts and inner tubes meant for the calm water of a pool or lake.