Dick Schwid’s guidebook, West Coast River Touring is now available on the American Whitewater website as a download. In addition to river descriptions that are found in no other guidebooks, Schwind’s guide contains a wealth of information on an array of topics, including: boat selection, roll instruction, and reading hydrographs. All still interesting reading today, essential in an era before the Internet and on demand everything.
Dick Schwind was one of the most active kayakers in California in the 1960s and 1970’s. He made it his passion to explore the dozens of rivers of California’s coast from the Rogue in Oregon south to Monterey County in California. Exploring mainly with paddlers from the Sierra Club River Touring Sections, he describes the rivers, their scenery, rapids and access in meticulous detail.
Even after 40 to 50 years, these descriptions are largely valid today. Most of the runs are described at relatively low water, and undoubtedly access has changed in many cases. But much of the information in this guide has never been replicated, although there are many fine on-line guides available today to some of the runs.
Boaters should not assume the rivers in this guidebook are unchanged since its publication: floods have rearranged rapids, and land ownership has often changed. Use this guide to pick new runs, and to get an idea of what the run is like. Then use only access available to the public, and be prepared for new or altered rapids.
American Whitewater would like to thank Dick for entrusting us with his piece of paddling history.