Sunday, November 29, 2009

Paddling in the desert

OK, there wasn't actually any paddling. But I just had a great Thanksgiving weekend out in Joshua Tree and wanted to share some photos. We were there for the climbing but the weather wasn't so cooperative. We had a couple days of decent weather and then it got cold. Then it got wet - first a little rain which ended our climbing early on Saturday, then it turned to snow as we drove out of the park. When it cleared up over night we thought we were OK but we got woken up early Sunday by more rain. Lots more rain. So we ended the weekend early and headed home to watch football.

The climbing we did get in was a combination of fun and frustration. Frustrating in that I haven't climbed since last Thanksgiving and I wasn't very sharp. But ultimately fun in that it is always good to get up on the rock and Joshua Tree is one of my favorite places on earth. If only it had a river running through it I would never leave.

Here's the full photo album:
091126 Joshua Tree

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back on the river

After what seems like forever (actually five months) I finally got back on a whitewater river of substance. Though not too much substance - it's only a two mile run, it was very low water and realistically it's a class IV river. Matt and Taylor and I headed up to do the Bear River just outside Colfax off I-80. This is another rare river that is running this fall due to dam maintenance, and another first descent for me.

It was a perfect day to shake the cobwebs off and start the winter boating season. The river was rather technical with a number of undercuts and some sieves and general mank. But nothing too hard. And the water was relatively warm and a sunny day made the canyon quite pleasant. Now I'm ready to start getting on the goods - hopefully the NF Feather Poe run where the dam maintenance should mean boatable flows through January.

I'm afraid my helmet cam wasn't working but here is a short clip of some foamy fun at the put in.

Monday, November 16, 2009

yet again

Another weekend another trip to the Bay. On Saturday I helped Steve and Chad finish off their trip to the sea (with Chris and Zack) - paddling down the Stanislaus river and out the Bay to the ocean. We launched in Richmond on the east side and crossed over to Raccoon Strait and on out to Horseshoe Cove at the base of the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. We got to dodge some large oil tankers on the way across; then plow through the tide rip off Pt. Stewart on Angel Island (though we skirted the larger rip at yellow bluff just before Horseshoe). With little wind, a helpful ebb current and beautiful blue skies it was an easy day of paddling and the perfect way to end their trip. More pictures here.

On Sunday I went out with a bunch of friends for some paddling and play time. We launched from Horseshoe and rode the fading flood out to Alcatraz and then over to the backside of Angel Island for lunch. By then the ebb was starting and we headed around to Pt. Stewart for some of the cleanest standing waves to be found inside the Bay. Everyone was getting nice rides and another group of paddlers from BASK showed up to join the fun. Even with fifteen boaters there were plenty of waves and space for everyone. Eventually we headed over to yellow bluff but by the time we got there it was fading and just confused (which to be honest is its normal condition - confused waves). So we just rode on through and back into Horseshoe. Another mild day of weather creating the perfect day of paddling in the Bay. More pictures here and video below.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bay paddling again

Another weekend down in the Bay area. This time it was just a one day paddle leading some new to the Bay paddlers from Carquinez Strait to Richmond. Steve and Chad have been paddling the Stanislaus river all the way from their home in Oakdale to the ultimate goal of the Pacific Ocean. The Bay is the last portion and quite a bit different from the rest of their trip so they asked me along to guide them. Chad's dad Chris and brother Zach came along - they've done most of the trip as well.

Their trip has been piecemeal, generally getting in one day of paddling on the weekend. So it's taken a few months to get here and we had to wait for the right currents and good weather for the Bay. We had a beautiful day with light winds that allowed us to cover the 20 miles withouth too much difficulty. The final leg will hopefully happen next week when we go from Richmond out the Golden Gate - weather permitting.

More Pictures HERE.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Got back late last night after a long weekend of instruction down in the Bay. This was an Instructor Development Workshop and while I do enjoy introducing new students to the sport I have to say my favorite thing to do is train instructors. Maybe it's because I get to cover a broader palette of skills - paddling skills, teaching skills, presentation skills; maybe it's because I feel it will have a greater impact - my students will spread their wisdom to more new students than I could reach myself; or maybe it's because the instructor trainees are generally so eager to learn. For whatever reason I always find it more fulfilling and this group was particular competent from the start so it made for a really fun weekend which also accomplished a lot.

This course was a sea kayaking course and we spent two days down in Half Moon Bay and one paddling in SF Bay. The first day involves technique work and video and the warm and sunny weather made rescue practice more palatable. Our Bay day started with dense fog and had high currents which ended up making a challenging day in spite of the mild weather. We had more fog and some light surf for our final day back in HMB which worked out well. All in all a great weekend of weather, paddling and most