Monday, April 26, 2010

Almost Big Sur

The plan was to paddle the coast from Monterey down to San Simeon, taking in the spectacular Big Sur coast line along the way. The issue a solid stretch of 60+ miles without any protected landings and only a few unprotected ones with any kind of access. So when the forecast shaped up to swells of 7-9 ft. or more it seemed like too big of a risk to go for it. Especially since Jeff and Terri only had three days to paddle - I have a more flexible schedule but didn't feel like going solo in these conditions. So we decided to do some day paddles around the Monterey area.

The first day we went around the Monterey peninsula with some big swells but light winds. It was a pretty paddle dominated by scenic houses and beautiful golf courses - we landed at Pebble Beach. Day two we launched a little further south out of Point Lobos and had the same big swells and some wind to go with. Not wanting to battle the wind for too long we made it a shorter day just going down to Yankee Pt. and back. Wouldn't you know it: the wind died just as we got back to Whaler's Cove! The final day we were forced north by the Big Sur Marathon closing down PCH. So we hit up Santa Cruz where there was some protection from the swells and the wind was still down - reminded me of southern California paddling.

So the weekend wasn't the trip we had hoped for but it was definitely a good three days of paddling. It also yielded some nice photos and video.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kern Festival never dissappoints

Once again Kern River Festival was an incredibly fun weekend of hanging out with friends, paddling a little whitewater and crashing down Brush Creek. With beautiful sunny weather it was quite enjoyable to simply sit in the park and watch the flow of people on the shore and in the river. There was some downriver racing (class II and class IV), some slalom racing (class II and class IV), and lots of Kern River Brewery beer.

I definitely felt the effects of all my traveling and lack of boating and was rather slow and missed some gates. But at least I didn't provide any carnage video while paddling - there were several swims on Brush Creek this year. Though I did provide the crowd with some entertainment while hiking back up the creek after the downriver when I slipped while crossing from one side to the other and sent my boat down the final 10' waterfall on the course. But I don't count that as a swim since I didn't start in my boat.

I'm still on the road - doing a screening of the video tonight in San Diego - so it will be a little while until I can post some more pictures and video...

UPDATE: Photos are here, video below:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Helen's roll video off to the printers!

For about the past month I've been working with Helen Wilson on her instructional rolling video. She wanted to have it ready for sale before she heads off to Europe for the summer (teaching clinics and touring for Tahe Kayaks). We had gotten most of the videoing done while I was visiting Arcata in March and then Helen was working on the voiceover, cover art and sending me notes to edit the project. I went back up to Arcata last weekend and three days of non-stop work (editing, re-shooting, mixing and watching it all over and over...) brought the project to its completion - at least our part. The disc is off to the printers and Helen should have boxes of picture perfect DVD's arriving by mid May.

Below is a trailer for the video - Helen did awesome job structuring the video and while it is fundamentally a Greenland rolling technique the information is applicable to anyone wanting to roll any type of kayak. You can pre-order your copy from her website: Greenland or Bust.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New waters

After spending the weekend editing video for Helen in Arcata (more on this shortly) I finally got the chance to get out for a paddle on the beautiful Humboldt coast. With Helen having to work she set me up with her friend Michael who had the day off. We met at Trinidad Head for a short but sweet mid morning paddle. The weather was on again/off again showers (which seems to be the perpetual state of things on the northern California coast) but very light winds. And with relatively small swells Michael said it was the best conditions they have had for many months. I was happy I caught things right since this allowed us to stay in close and explore.

The rock garden up here is definitely something different. Instead of just having many small rocks and channels along the immediate coastline Trinidad steps it up a notch by having a ton of large rocks/mini islands scattered up to a mile off shore. And with all the obstacles the incoming swells pinball off and around to create a washing machine effect on a grand scale. On our day it just made it fun and interesting but I can only imagine the confusion and chaos when the big stuff comes in as it so often does.

It was also a great place to get some wildlife viewing in. Birds and pinnipeds abounded. Several of the islands were blanketed by huge colonies of nesting terns; common mures were all around and there was even quite a number of Canadian geese that Michael says had been relocated here from a golf course in Chico. And I was surprised to see a large number of the Stellar sea lions lying alongside their more common Californian brethren. I didn't think they were established this far south but Michael assures me they are quite common around these parts.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Can we just get to summer already!

California is suppose to be warm and sunny. That's the whole point. And while I don't mind gearing up for winter storm missions I expect that when the teaching season comes around things will be a little nicer. But over the past weekend I taught two whitewater 101 classes and for both it was a freezing cold day one, luckily followed by a sunny (if not overly warm) day two.

The first class had a cold, rainy, windy day one that really tested everyone's spirit. The wet exits provided instant ice cream headaches and made me numb from the waist down as I stood in the water to assist. We had lunch sitting in the van with the heater on to thaw out and we didn't get a chance to run any stretch of river since I didn't want to risk any swims in the cold water. The next class had a similar forecast on the first day and I actually went to the full fleece layers under my drysuit - something I almost never have to do in this state. For the most part the rain and wind held off - instead we got the hail! It didn't last long - I heard that it was a solid twenty minutes of the white pellets coming down further upstream - but it again made everyone question their sanity for learning how to kayak in such weather.

But in both classes the relatively nicer second day smoothed things out. Everyone got to do some downriver paddling and get a taste for what the sport is really suppose to be like. Even though the river hadn't changed temperature and the air was only slightly warmer it is amazing what a little sun can do. I'm off for a couple weeks of traveling and hopefully by the time I get back for my next class on the river the sun will be taking its permanent position in the California sky for a summer of paddling perfection.