The Yuba – source to sea |

The Yuba – source to sea

John HartSouth Yuba Citizens League intern Alex Ezzell intends to paddle the entire river - from Sugar Bowl to the Golden Gate Bridge.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Most young men kayak Sierra rivers for the rush. Alex Ezzell does that, but also wants to do it for science.

As early as Monday, Ezzell, 22, wants to paddle the entire South Yuba River on its path from the headwaters at Sugar Bowl all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

“I’d like to do it all at once,” the Nevada City resident said Friday night. “But I’ll probably do it in segments,” because of varying river flows. Ezzell also wants to take other kayakers with him and gather monetary contributions, so the trip is set for some time between Monday and May 15. He figures it will take one month.

Ezzell is a South Yuba River Citizens League intern and wants to traverse the 250 miles of water for his senior thesis. The College of the Atlantic (Maine) student is believed to be the first ever kayaker to attempt the trip, according to SYRCL Executive Director Janet Cohen.

“This is an incredible undertaking that we are excited to be supporting,” she said.

One incredible portion is “a section below Lake Spaulding to Washington that has only been run by two people since the late ’80s,” Ezzell said. The stretch has a “230-foot drop per mile, 80 feet more than the average Class 5 run,” Ezzell said. Kayak runs are rated one through five, five being the most difficult.

So Ezzell hopes to hike that area first, “to see if I’ll try it.” He definitely plans to do the rest of the river, crossing several lakes before the Yuba empties into the Feather and Sacramento rivers on its way into the Delta and San Francisco Bay.

On his monthlong “Source to Sea,” journey, Ezzell will take photos and scientific recordings of what he sees to study the hydraulic, land-use and conservation aspects of the river.

“It’s not just about me,” he said. “I’ll be looking at historical and current resources, mining and logging, and their impacts on the river. The river is a complicated thing. I want to acknowledge it’s complex.”

To help Alex Ezzell with his trip, call the SYRCL office at 265-5961 or see its Web site at

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