Monday, June 29, 2009


In about a week or so I'll be heading out for several month road trip to BC. It's a sea kayaking trip and I've started making the transition from river paddling to the ocean. While all the paddling I've been doing has gotten into good condition it isn't the same as spending several hours in your boat riding the swells and fighting the wind. So I spent a couple days paddling down in the Bay - including a 25 mile day on Tomales Bay and a paddle out under the Golden Gate.

On Tomales I got the opportunity to paddle with my buddy Frank while exploring the Pt. Reyes shore and wildlife. There were a number of elk walking along shore and lots of birds on the water and in the air, as well as people out clamming. Then I continued down the Bay solo for a good workout paddle and was happy to realize that it wasn't much of a strain. I guess the hours in a little boat do transfer over.

I have one project left to get my boat ready for BC: I am installing an automatic electric bilge pump. It's the type of thing I don't expect to ever need but might make all the difference if things really go south. It goes along with my SPOT, VHF, manual pump, paddlefloat, flares and more. You can't have too much safety equipment, right?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Well, I was supposed to head out to Colorado to visit my dad and attend a whitewater festival in Salida but my truck had other ideas. So after several days of listening to mechanics reports like an anxious parent at the hospital I ended up staying home which enabled me to help out with CCK's annual Paddlefest on Lake Natoma. It's a day of clinics on Saturday (including Greenland rolling and rescues) and a day of demos on Sunday.

I wasn't teaching on Saturday but stopped by for a workout paddle and took some pictures. Greenland rolling was taught by Helen Wilson and is a thing of beauty to watch. The rescue clinic is always good to see - people in the cold water desperately trying to get back in their boats. There were also Stand-Up-Paddling and Fitnes clinics at the other end of the lake.

On Sunday, after helping unload and set up boats , I spend most of the day doing hourly kids clinics. Mostly it was just to keep the kids busy while their parents tried out some kayaks, but it was fun to see the littlest kids figure out how to get where they wanted to go (eventually). Then more kayak loading at the end of the day and a long weekend came to an end.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Caves, light and reflection

Some of the things I do are dangerous. Generally the perceived danger (especially by those who don't kayak) is greater than the actual danger. But the actual danger is still there. Yesterday I chose to run a rapid that I knew was dangerous. And I chose to run the riskier line instead of the easiest route. Well, it was a mistake. A mistake in judgment that lead me there and a mistake in execution that brought me to the drop backwards.

I got flipped and stuffed into an underwater cave before I had the chance to roll. I immediately pulled my skirt and came out of my boat but I was still in the underwater cave. But shortly I got sucked down and out a hole in the bottom of the cave, popping up downstream in relatively calm water basically unscratched.

I've had more downtime in the past and I've certainly gotten more banged up in other swims, but this was definitely most dangerous situation I've ever found myself in. For a brief moment I was in the cave looking around for light and feeling nothing but solid rock. The thought definitely crossed my mind that this might be the end. But I quickly felt the current take me and then I knew I was rising towards the light at the surface.

I didn't really have time to get scared and I never reached the panic point in the cave. Once I climbed out on a rock I really just felt miserable for putting my friends through watching that. They had all gone to great efforts to set safety as much as humanly possible but there was nothing they could have done to reach me. And then they had to chase down my gear - paddle floated downriver while my boat stayed in the cave for a good ten minutes before washing out. I was stuck on shore watching them work hard to save my stuff and that's when I felt helpless.

All's well that ends well but I definitely have more to think about for my future decision making. The video includes a couple views from shore as well as my helmet cam that was running the whole time. Here are also some pictures of the fun we were having earlier in the day.

090614 Kern River kayaking from Aqua Aevum on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

K for Kaweah

I spent the last two days on the Kaweah. The goal was to get on the Hospital Rock section, something my buddy Matt has been dying to do all year. So the two of us headed down to Three Rivers and met up with Tyler to make it happen. The first day we arrived in the afternoon and didn't want to try Hospital with a late start so we decided to do the stretch below which is suppose to be easier. But we decided to put in a little higher than normal to see if we could get some bigger rapids. And boy did we! Turns out we ran the lower two miles of the Ash Mountain section which was every bit as hard (and slow) as Hospital Rock. But everything went fine and we managed to paddle into the campground as the sun was setting.

The next day we got an earlier start and put on Hospital Rock the same time as another large group. They knew the run and we did not so we managed to get some good beta for the first few drops before they left us in the dust. We got overtaken by another group just as we reached the first serious gorge and managed to follow them down the entrance line which saved us some painful scouting. Otherwise we were getting out of our boats every 100 yards to figure out what was over the horizon or around the corner. It made for slow going but actually a lower stress level as everything went smoothly with only a few portages. It was a great couple days of boating and I'm looking forward to a rest day before getting in some more time on the Kern with old friends.

The video will take a while to edit down but I should have it up next week. Pictures are here.

UPDATE: short video below and full videos of Hospital Rock and Ash Mountain

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ocean training

In about a month I plan to head up to British Columbia on a seven week road trip of sea kayaking. And while I have been paddling a lot (as this blog shows) I haven't been doing much distance paddling, especially on the open ocean. So this past weekend I went down to San Francisco Bay and squeezed in three paddles. On Saturday I went out to Angel Island with a bunch of other Sacramento area paddlers and then, after a short break, back out on the Bay for a moonlight paddle.

Then on Sunday I headed out under the Golden Gate and paddled up the coast to Muir Beach. Fighting strong winds and the current it took almost three hours to get there. But riding the waves on the way back it took half as long. A good start for my BC training.

Video from Saturday:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lake paddling excitement

Well, it was actually right after we got off the lake that the lightning storm started. So technically, the lake paddle in itself was quite peaceful. Some good wildlife sighting, a nice sunset, all very relaxing. A nice change of pace from traveling around the state hitting new and challenging rivers every few days. Pictures.

But as soon as the boats were loaded up on the cars the sky started putting on a very exciting show. News reports said it was averaging 3,500 lightning strikes an hour. Watching it the sky was basically lit up by the flashes. Check out the video below to see for yourself.