AUBURN, CA- A long-time nude beach along the American River near Auburn is gettingsome surprisedlooks as rafters begin trial runs on a new stretch of the river.
Professional rafting companies have begun leading trips down the calmer section of the river after an old water diversion tunnel was shut down several years ago below the confluence of the north and middle forks of the American River.
"He said, 'there's a naked dude around the corner,"recalled River Rafter Richy Babcock of Rocklin,after he and a friend madea recent trip past the small beach on the north side of the river.
"Objections? Yeah, definitely no kids should be down there for sure," Babcock said. "But for the most part, definitely a good adult time."
Others enjoying the river on Tuesday afternoon said they had noproblem with a nude beach so close to Auburn.
"Naked? I don't really care. All the power to you, like it's just nudity," said Audrey Hicks as she walked out of the canyon.
Friend Shiela O'Neill agreed.
"It may bother some people, but I don't care," O'Neill said."People can do what they want, it's their body."
Park Ranger Mike Lynch said the nude beach has been there for at least 30 years and that he can't remember a single citation for public nudity. He said bathers almost always cover up if someone complains.
"We're on a day to day basis, more concerned like with illegal campfires and things that could take out the whole community of Auburn," Lynch said.
Professional rafters said they've already seen the nude bathers, but that they've found a way to ease concerns for those who might be offended. They make noise as they come around the bend.
"And 99 percent of the people down there, they're gonna turn away. They're gonna cover up. And they're gonna be courteous, as well as we are,"Whitewater Excitement ownerNorm Schoenhoff said.
"We can all coexist in this canyon and my gosh, we can enjoy this beautiful section of river together," Schoenhoff said.
Park rangers said they'll keep aneye on how rafters and nude sunbathers coexist this summer, but do not expect any major problems.
On Tuesday night, fishermen Ken Fitzgerald and Matt Kness didn't realize they were casting their lines near a nude beach.
"What kinda bait do we need for hot ladies out here on the river?" Squirt guns work well, right," asked Fitzgerald.
Both were a bit disappointed the beach was empty except for aground squirrel.
"Didn't see any today so I guess we we're skunked fishing and skunked in that regard as well,"complained Kness.