Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Whitewater of the Sea

On a New Year's road trip I ended up in Ft. Bragg along the Mendocino coast visiting my friends Jeff and Cate at Liquid Fusion Kayaking. The Mendocino area has an incredible beauty and diversity to it. The ocean is magnificent, with rock gardens and protected bays and good surf breaks. The rivers are calm and majestic, making for tranquil paddles in any conditions. The redwoods are ever present, making everything lush and luxurious. There is no better place for a little play and relaxation.

The first day we arrived with plenty of daylight but we left the boats on the car. Instead of paddling we went mushroom hunting. An easy concept - just find the mushrooms which seem to grow everywhere - but a little harder when you want to find the tasty ones and avoid the poisonous. With Cate's guidance and Jeff's climbing abilities we came away with a sizable load of tasty treats that provided several meals during our stay. So much fun tromping through the woods and searching for dinner.

The next day we hit the water. Jeff and Cate loaned us some whitewater boats - we all ended up in Necky Jive's which are great and surfing and a lot of fun in the rocks. The waves on the exposed coast were a little too large for playing (10'-12' @ 14 sec) so we stayed inside the friendly confines of Caspar harbor. We surfed a bit but the waves were small so spent more time playing among the rocks.

photo: Lindsay Grossman
Rock gardening in whitewater boats is so much fun because the boats are so quick to respond. It makes timing and learning so much easier and allows you to move around the features and get more rides and thrills. It's a specialty of Jeff and Cate's and works well in the Mendo area because you don't have to paddle far to get to the action. (the downfall of short boats is that they are sloowwww when you have to cover distance to get to your play spot)

The next day Jeff and Cate had to run to the nearby Eel River to teach a whitewater class (did I mention they are versatile?) and so we stayed behind to try to find some long boat rock garden fun. Unfortunately the waves were still big, so we just did a nice coastal paddle instead. As a bonus, we spotted some whales traveling the coast with us - just couldn't get any pictures in the big waves.

All in all it was a fun and relaxing trip that reminded me of just how special the Mendocino area is. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I've got to spend more time there. Here's a little video of the rock garden play in WW kayaks at Caspar.

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