Sunday, March 29, 2009


I was on a mission yesterday to get some serious footage and photos of Tahoe while the snow is still around and the sun was shining. The crystal clear water, the snow covered slopes and pine forest, the brilliant blue sky - you can't get anything that shows the beauty of paddling in California any better. The video is still being edited but should be up in the next day or so. UPDATE: video editing is done! (higher quality version here - make sure to select HQ button in lower right corner of video player)

While I was paddling the flat waters of the lake a couple friends were squeezing a 2-day river trip on the North Fork American into one long day of fun. Which represents perhaps the hardest part of paddling in California - just too many good options. Every time I miss out on one good paddle while doing another I start questioning if I chose the right one. Should I have gone to the other place? Would it have been a better time? Will I get the chance to make up what I missed?

But this isn't really productive. So at some point you just have to say f#ck it, I had fun. And tomorrow I'll get to have fun again. So I am headed out to spend the day on the river!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Variety - [insert spice of life comment here]

This is what I love about paddling - endless variety of locations and opportunities. I got to spend a few days paddling on protected waters by Tomales Bay, went down to watch the Santa Cruz Surf Kayak Festival and then came back up to paddle the Upper Middle Cosumnes river just outside Placerville.

I started with a couple days with my buddy Frank who has a nice little place in Dillon Beach at the mouth of Tomales Bay. He bought the place over 30 years ago, long before he ever did any kayaking - he didn't start kayaking until he was 65. But Frank has tried to make up for lost time with a serious dedication to the sport. He is one of the regulars at the pool working on his rolling techniques over the winter and gets out on the water a couple time a week during the summer. We spent a nice day on the Estero Americano and ran into a local paddler on the water (Ted) who joined us the following day for a trip on Tomales Bay.

So after a couple days of paddling I headed down to Santa Cruz as a spectator. It was the first day of the Santa Cruz Surf Kayak Festival - one of the largest such festivals in the country. Unfortunately the ocean wasn't being cooperative and the the waves were infrequent and small. But a great location and great weather made for some nice photographs.

Since the surf was expected to get even smaller, I checked on the rivers and some friends were planning on hitting the Upper Middle Cosumnes. So I drove back home and switched out the sea kayak for my creeker and got a good night's sleep to prepare. The Cosumnes has a small, low elevation cachement and thus a short season. The Upper Middle Fork was only recently discovered as a kayak run and it is an incredibly beautiful and challenging run. It takes a mile to hike in and the first two miles has a lot of large drops that we ended up portaging around (though folks have run everything in there). So there was lots of boat carrying but lots of great paddling and lovely granite scenery.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sierra Sunshine

Well, the rains ended and we've had a week of great sunny weather. The rivers came down quickly and most are back under run-able levels at the moment. But I got a couple days of paddling in the sunshine including a day on the Giant Gap section of the North Fork American river. I’ve wanted to do the run for years but timing has been off. Twice I had lined up trips with friends but I ended up having to work. Both those trips ended up being high water adventures ending in hikes out, lost boats and helicopter rides. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but we got on it at a mellow flow and the whitewater turned out to be very reasonable and the scenery was incredible.

The day before we did the upper main Cosumnes run because no one in our group had done it before. It started out fun but after a portage a mile in the river was basically flat for the next eight miles. So it was more a work out paddle than anything else. Giant Gap also had an eight mile paddle out to go with a two mile hike in so I feel like I’ve gotten in more than enough exercise paddling in the past two days.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


First descents are seen by some in the whitewater world as the holy grail (or grails) and they travel to the furthest reaches of the earth to find them. The searchers will be rewarded with an experience that is truyly new and unique. But every paddler has the opportunity for their own first descent on each new river they come to - no less a new and unique experience for them. Over the past five days I've gotten on five new runs, taking advantage of the rainy weather here in the sierras.

My buddy Matt Parker came down from Truckee and we explored some new areas with other friends and occasionally on our own. Aside from the previously mentioned South Yuba we headed up to run Pauley Creek before the rain turned to snow (and just made it off as it spiked up rather high on us). We got on the Slab Creek run on the South Fork American just as it started spilling - another one that turned into high water adventure as we proceeded down. And we finished it off with a mellow run on the Middle Yuba getting on the hard to time Our House Dam run.

Here's a link to some pictures from the trip and a little video compilation.

Monday, March 2, 2009

South Yuba Goodness

Currently I'm in the middle of a road trip watching the rain dump down on us. We've spent the last two days paddling the South Yuba - I finally got on a section of the Yuba! And how nice it was. We did E to P on Saturday which was quite mellow at a low flow - but really beautiful and just plain fun. 49 to Bridgeport on Sunday was classic. In spite of raining all day the flow held steady around 600 cfs (until we got off and it started heading up precipitously). Great level for my first time and lots of great drops in there.

Here is a short clip from the beginning of the Bridgeport section. After I get a chance to do some editing I will include more stuff. But I'm off to run Pauley Creek today while it is still raining - it's suppose to turn to snow tomorrow and probably chase us out of the Sierras...

UPDATE: Here is the full video from both S Yuba runs: