Friday, March 23, 2018


The life of the wood, meadow, and lake go on without us. Flowers bloom, set seed and die back; squirrels hide nuts in the fall and scold all year long; bobcats track the snowy lake in winter; deer browse the willow shoots in spring. Humans are but intruders who have presumed the right to be observers, and who, out of observation, find understanding.  -- Ann Zwinger

There are two factors that are relied on when getting images of wildlife. The first is patience. Getting up close to wild animals with an elusive nature proves to be challenging. You can’t ask them to look this way or stand where the light is better. Be prepared to wait and watch for that perfect moment. As a consequence, the longer you spend watching them the more you to know about them.

“You have to be really patient,” National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore told PBS, “ Most shoots I’m covered with bugs. Most of the time it's physically miserable, and if you weren’t wound tight like me to get good pictures, why in the world would you ever do something like this? I don’t think you could stand it!”
Over last decade Sartore focus has been a project he calls the Photo Ark, the world’s largest collection of animal studio portraits. His goal is simple: to get the public to care and save species from extinction.

"That’s what the Photo Ark really is about,” Sartore said about the series. “It's hoped that people will fall in love with these things, want to learn about what happened to the species, what they can do to save it and then realize that it ties directly back into their own lives. I think we should show good stewardship to all species, great and small. Clearly, the best course of action is to protect entire ecosystems so that individual species don’t get into trouble in the first place."

I don't claim to be a wildlife photographer. Sometimes it's just luck. Getting up close to skittish wild animals in nature can be both challenging and immensely frustrating, especially when relying on waterproof point and shoot camera. However being able to glide silently through the water in a kayak I'm able to observe and shoot images from without disrupting them in their natural habitat. Sometimes I find the animal is just as curious about me as I am them.

That was the case while on a recent paddling trip on Lake Clementine. The lake is a four-mile-long and narrow waterway in Northern California's Auburn State Recreation Area, fed by the North Fork American River. It was formed in 1939 when the Army Corps of Engineers built the dam to prevent gold mining debris from flowing downstream.

Paddling around the bend near the upper portion of the lake, I happened upon a bobcat on the high back eyeing a pair of geese in the water below. As I came closer, its attention drifted towards me and my boat.

Seldom seen, these elusive and nocturnal wildcats roam throughout much of North America and adapt well to such diverse habitats. Stealthy solitary hunters, they survive on diet of rabbits and ground squirrels by using their long legs, large paws to pounce on their prey. Named for its tail, which appears to be cut or “bobbed.”

An important character in Native Amercian folklore claims the bobcat doesn't show itself without reason. Traditional stories say the sighting of a bobcat is very powerful medicine. The bobcat plays a very negative role in the legends of some tribes. It is considered bad luck to see a one. He is greedy, selfish, and disregards social rules, while in others believe dreaming about strong and agile animal would grant them special powers and superior hunting skills. Often parabled opposite of the coyote, the bobcat is associated with the fog because of its hidden and secretive nature while the coyote represents natural forces the wind.

Interpretations of bobcats sightings vary. For many that are not tuned in spiritually, seeing the animal is a thing of chance. Of course, I don't think that.  When I'm out on the water the mysterious properties nature and theology always immerses me. So maybe it wasn't luck, the bobcat was not a coincidence but a lesson received in silence.

It's a sign to reflect and regain our energy. As a solitary creature, the bobcat inherently knows this and is trying to tell us to break away and take time for ourselves. To seek quiet moments to ask ourselves some meaningful questions and think about what matters most. In our noisy lives filled with people, things and media, we all need an escape and chance to seek our own solitude.

After a while, the bobcat's patience with our face to face encounter fades. It decides to move to higher ground and into the shelter of the Ponderosa pine looking back over its shoulder from time to time, watching me before disappearing like the fog into the cover of the hills

Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, we would love to see it. Submit it to us at

Friday, March 16, 2018


It was inspiriting to hear the regular dip of the paddles, as if they were our fins or flippers, and  to realize that we were at length fairly embarked... Henry David Thoreau,

It's the primary piece of the paddle. Half the time unseen buried in water, the other half, it's flying above your head. It's designed to move as much water as it can quickly and smoothly by catching and pushing the water away and around its edge. In doing so, it creates a phenomenon of physics in the water beneath your boat. It's that force of resistance, that propels the boat your forward.

All kayak paddles have the three basic parts. The shaft, throat and the blades at both ends. It's the length of the shaft that is always considered first in the sizing recommendations in accordance with paddler's height and their size of a kayak. While the size and shape of the blade are sometimes an afterthought to the paddler's needs.

Kayak blades come in different shapes and sizes either being flat or curved. The bigger high angle blade means the paddler will be pulling more water while low angle blades have longer and narrower blades. Experts say, typically, the folks looking for a big blade, are bigger and stronger individuals usually paddling heavy boats or looking for a good workout while out on the water.

In the past, symmetrical (flat) blades were the popular, however as the sport transformed, paddlers wanted to go further and faster, all while expending less energy. Asymmetrical blades with the top edge are slightly longer, resembling the wing of an airplane, were developed allowing water to effortless flow along each side of the blade

"Kayak blade shapes are continually evolving," wrote Brian Boyea of Aqua-Bound and Bending Branches in an e-mail, "Some of the original kayak paddles had squared edges on the blades. Since then, the blades have become rounded. The rounded edges help water roll off the blades evenly and prevent the edges of the blades from getting caught or snagged on anything that may be below the water’s surface."

Aqua-Bound is one the world's largest manufacturers of whitewater, touring, and recreational kayaking paddles, while its sister company,  Bending Branches concentrates on making canoeing paddles. Leaders in making plastic-bladed kayak paddles, Boyea says, their engineers spend quite a bit of time designing blade shapes and prototypes. Typically it can take about 6-8 months to go from ideas to blade prototypes.

"Once they come up with a prototype they like," wrote Boyea, "We run it through a series of in-house tests to make sure the blade will stand up to the test that our paddles typically face. After some in-house testing, we send proto-type paddles out to trusted individuals for field testing. After running the prototypes through the paces, these individuals will give us all sorts of feedback. We’ll use that feedback to alter the blade shape and design as we see fit."

The biggest evolution in paddle blades has come in the form of their material make-up according to Boyea. Manufacturers are finding lighter and stronger materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber to build enhance their blade's features.
"New blade shapes and designs are constantly being introduced to the market. Lighter and stiffer materials play a role in this as well. We just launched our new compression molded Whiskey and Tango performance kayak paddles." wrote Boyea, "Those blades are made up of compression molded fiberglass and compression molded carbon. These are the lightest blades we’ve ever designed. We’re excited to see where we can go next."

Paddling blade master, Sigurd Olson, proclaimed, "There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe." He was right of course because it's all a disappearing act. The blade vanishes into the water, gliding the kayak forward, only to reappear an instant later. It will do that a thousand times and then thousands more while trekking across the water.  It's the paddle's mojo.

Paddle Machine
Sure paddles are now lighter, stiffer, and more durable, but a California state senator wants to classify them as "machinery" that propel a vessel in an amendment to Section 651 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, relating to vessels.
Bill SB 1247, introduced by Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) last month, purposes that regulations governing vessels would define“machinery” as any sail, rigging, rudder, oar, paddle, or similar device used on a vessel. The bill would stipulate that any vessel that uses machinery in its operation is a mechanically propelled vessel.
Opponents feel this is the move to require all canoes, stand up paddle boards, and kayaks to be registered with the DMV like boats and jet skis with fees from $29.00 or $49.00 per year. Currently, in California, paddle craft are not required to be licensed.
Outside Adventure to the Max reached out to Senator Gaines office via email and received no response to our inquiry.

Friday, March 9, 2018


The Mississippi River and downtown St Paul, Minnesota.

There is a whirl of activity at Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul, Minnesota. Shuttle buses are coming and going. Kayaks and canoes are being unloaded and carried to the grassy staging area next to the river. Numbers are have been assigned, pictures are being taken, while water, apples and granola bars are packed into the boats. It is the annual Mightyssippi River Adventure Race day on the Mississippi River. Over a 100 hundred paddlers have signed up for the 14-mile charity event through the Twin Cities. The paddler's instructions on the river are easy: Be Safe, stay to the right of the river when traveling downstream. Avoid all boats and barges and have fun.

A countdown from the loudspeakers and soon the river is filled with kayaks and canoes of every color and size. Before long the paddlers spread out going past Fort Snelling State Park and the skyline of St Paul giving each one their own perspective of the famous river. At times it is gritty and industrial, but also offers an oasis of nature in the heart of city dwellings.

A night on California's Lake Natoma.
Most paddlers feel like they are discovering it for the first time. They are surprised that an urban river can contain so much beauty and nature. It happens all the time for urban paddlers. The waterways thought to be dirty and polluted are found clean, inviting and full of wildlife. On the Red River between Fargo and Moorhead, I have seen deer, beaver and even a bald eagle along the bends of the rivers just blocks away from downtown. River otters splash and hide in the rocks underneath the Rainbow Bridge over Lake Natoma and the American River, while farther down Californian quail, deer, and Canadian geese find a haven in the sloughs.

On the river urban views are blocked by trees. The only reminder that one is even close to civilization is going to the cities train and highway bridges. The buzz of traffic echoes off the water giving us the only clue we are close to home. In some places, we go back in time past turn of the century mills and remnants. Along the Red River on the Moorhead side, I can still find broken bottles from the prohibition days when North Dakota was dry and Minnesota taverns were right on the river. On the American River, huge piles of dredge tailings are still visible from gold mining days. The waterways are no longer highways or dumping grounds and the rivers have now reclaimed their banks.

Canoeist Natalie Warren founder of the outdoor education nonprofit Wild River Academy has trekked the waterways across the country to observe how rivers are promoted in their communities. In a recent interview with Canoe & Kayak Magazine said, "When I paddled urban rivers from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay and from Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico, I realized that our local water trails have their own beauty and, even more, provide a classroom to learn how our country uses rivers. My experiences on wild and urban rivers inspired me to speak about building a culture around urban paddling, diversifying the paddling community, and increasing recreation, positively impacting all aspects of society."

Warren's goal is to increase recreation through the public waterways in river towns with the addition outfitters, hiking and bike paths, restaurants and interpretive centers, campgrounds and most important access to the water.
 "I hope to highlight the positive ripple effects of opening up to the river and prioritizing water trails to improve recreation and trails, tourism and economies, and increased environmental education and ecosystem health. It all starts with a paddle in the water. Every time you paddle locally you are partaking in a larger movement for the betterment of communities, ecosystems, and the future of river-town economies."

Paddlers taking part in the Mightyssippi River Adventure finished the day under the Interstate 94 bridge, 14 miles downstream. They came away with sore muscles and smiles with this annual day on the Mississippi. Of course for some, this experience is only a warm up to their annual Boundary Waters trip or lifelong dream of going down the Grand Canyon. However, paddling locally and exploring their neighborhood water trail gave them a low-cost view of the river, right in their own backyard.

This article was originally published in Outside Adventure to the Max January 17, 2015. 


Jury convicts Arizona man of shooting at Flagstaff kayakers 

An Arizona jury was deadlocked on attempted murder and kidnapping charges against Danny Eugene Button who was accused of shooting at four kayakers but convicted him of endangerment and other counts.

Button was found guilty earlier this week, of endangerment, aggravated assault and disorderly conduct with a weapon according to the Mohave Valley Daily News.
Button, 68, used a handgun to fire five shots at a group of kayakers as they were paddling down the Burro Creek in February 2017. Tyler Williams saw one round hit about four feet from him. He bailed from the kayak and floated downriver to escape. He was found unharmed the next day. The rest of the party was ordered out their kayaks by Button and held at gunpoint and ordered them to return upstream to the campground. Button claimed they were trespassing on private property. Button's wife's family owns the land surrounding that section of the creek, while prosecutors say the kayakers did not trespass on the property because is creek is a navigable waterway and boaters did not come contact with the bank or bottom.
The judge ordered Button to remain in custody without bond until his sentencing, which is scheduled for next month. He could face 20 to 30 years in prison.

Kayaker attacked river otter, fearing for her life, battles animal with paddle

When we think of river otters, we think of the playful critter sliding and wrestling, belly flopping, and somersaulting through the water. Unlike a mountain lion or alligator we know we have little to fear. But, in Florida last weekend a paddling trip turned life-threatening when a river otter surprisingly attacked a 77-year-old woman
Sue Spector was kayaking with a group on Braden River in west-central Florida when an otter climbed onto her kayak and then jumped on her scratching and biting her arms, nose and ear.

"I took my paddle and I tried to get him off of me and he wouldn't let go and I kept screaming, I kept beating him with a paddle," Spector told Tampa Bay's Fox 13, "When you're [in the middle of] it you don't have a lot of thought except you hope you survive."
As she fought to beat the animal off, her kayak flipped, Fox reports, leaving her in neck-deep cold water still battling the possibly rabid animal
The otter eventually let go, as Spector's nearby husband also beat it with his paddle, leaving Spector needing stitches and rabies treatment.
While this is extremely unusual behavior for otters, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson told the Bradenton Herald they have heard reports of at least four injuries due to an aggressive otter.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Courtesy of Claire Abendroth, MLive  Check out her other flood Photos
This past week roughly 70 rivers were at flood stage and more than 250 river gauges reported levels above flood stage from the Great Lakes to Texas according to the National Weather Service as heavy rains and intense flooding has ravaged parts of central and southern states. While this weekend, states along the Atlantic Coast are bracing for a major Nor'easter expected to pound the region with damaging winds, heavy rain and snow and severe flooding.

Flood waters on the Ohio River in both Louisville and Cincinnati were at their highest levels in 20 years. The river was expected to reach moderate flood stage along the southern border of Ohio and West Virginia in the coming days, the weather service said.

In Michigan, the water is receding after flooding that prompted evacuations after areas were swamped by high water from heavy rains and melting snow.

As the water gush city streets were turned into rivers enticing some paddlers to break out their boats and explore their flooded neighborhoods and the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Last week, Colleen Curran and her husband Jesse Schultz launched their kayaks in a campus parking lot and toured the flooded college's landmarks and sports facilities paddling down the usually dry River Trail, or through Beal Botanical Gardens, where the water went right up to the university's library.

The coolest sight, she told MLive, was paddling through the baseball and softball diamonds, where water was so deep, at times their paddles didn't even touch the ground. The doors to the hitting and pitching facility were open, to paddle through, giving them the feeling of being on the Titanic.

"We kayak the same rivers all the time," Curran said, "It's not often it floods and we get to do something different."

Floodwater, however, can be very treacherous as Kalamazoo's Evan Curtis told Wood TV8.
"There’s a whole bunch of people kayaking, so we’re like, ‘Hey let’s go kayaking! We thought it would be a great idea. Like it’d be a great time.”
But, it didn’t take long for Curtis and the rest of his kayak club to figure that out that the flooded Kalamazoo River wasn't the place to play.
“There were spots that where it was pretty questionable,” he said. “Once we got to the river that was crazy. It was going so fast.”

Rescuers are saying that those high swift waters on the Paw Paw River and the Grand River are to blame for two missing kayakers presumed drowned in two separate incidents in Michigan earlier this week. While an Indiana State Police trooper and two good Samaritans quick action saved a kayaker’s life.

The Lansing Fire Department says rescue teams were told that the man fell into the into the Grand River water running fast after last week's major flooding, Tuesday evening near the Brenke Fish Ladder in Lansing. Witnesses reported a kayak and paddle were spotted floating down the river. Boats and divers were called to search the river.

"Given the water level and the speed the river is traveling right now, we knew this was going to be a long, intensive operation," fire department spokesman Steve Mazurek said.

Along the Paw Paw River, about hundred miles west of Lansing, rescuers were searching for another kayaker this week after two of the kayaks capsized after hitting a log in the river.

"One guy was able to get his kayak through the logjam and made his way to shore," said Dan Jones the Chief of the Watervliet Fire Department told WNDU-TV, "The other one swam to shore and the third one is still missing."

Searching the Paw Paw River
Officials warned that this not the time to on the Paw Paw River, because of the recent flooding.
"With the river being out of its banks there's a lot of entanglements and the channel that has the highest flow in it is pretty narrow," said Jones. "Stay out unless you're very well experienced," said Jones. "If you do wander into the waters, by all means, wear a life jacket it makes you much easier to find."

Kaitlyn Greene
While in Indiana earlier this week, state trooper Kaitlyn Greene was patrolling flooded areas when she was frantically waved down by the wife of a kayaker who was nearly submerged underwater and clinging to a metal culvert pipe. They had been kayaking in a flooded field when he and his kayak was swept into the culvert. He was able to grab the top of the pipe before being sucked underwater, keeping his head and arms above water.

Greene, a member of the local water rescue team was able to secure her throw bag rope under the man's armpits and around his back and with the help of two passing motorists pull the boater to safety.
"As bad as it sounds,” she told the Dubois County Herald, “Ninety-nine percent of what I do is evidence and body recoveries. It was refreshing to actually be able to do a rescue and he got to go home.”

So the best advice we can give when it comes to paddling in flood waters is: DON'T!
It's pretty simple advice but as one can see from the stories above, not always taken.
Flood waters are just very unpredictable. Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.
Most people underestimate the force and power of water. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It only takes a foot of rushing water to sweep away a small car, while 2-feet of rushing water can wash away most vehicles along with the road under it.

So why would you even consider boating in a river, creek or any other body of water is at or above flood stage? You are not only risking your life but the lives of search and rescue crews, not to mention the possibility of arrest and fines if law officials issue orders banning all nonofficial watercraft in the flooded areas.

NRS listed eight dangers in flood stage boating in their web page article entitled Riding the Flood, that should always be considered before paddling in inundate waters

  • Debris in the water. The rising water pulls streamside debris into the flow. Banks get undercut and trees, fence posts and structures fall into the water. You can find yourself sharing the run with all sorts of foreign objects.
  • Strainers. Trees and logs get lodged and create severe hazards. Water flows through and around them; you and your boat won’t. In larger streams, you may be able to avoid them. In a smaller stream, a strainer can completely block it. Undercut rocks and boulder sieves are also severe entrapment hazards that can be created or accentuated by high water.
  • Low head dams. A low head or “run of the river” dam is used to raise the level of a stream. Water flows over the lip of the dam and creates a perfect reversal on the downstream side that can go from difficult to impossible to get out of. They are dangerous at any flow, but can be particularly strong at high flows.
  • Bridge abutments. They can catch debris and even block off the channel. Even without debris catch, they kick off big swirling side-curling waves.
  • Turbid water. The muddy flow hides hazards that would normally be visible.
  • Water out of its banks. The stream can flow out into the surrounding countryside, taking you into trees, brush, fences and other entrapment obstacles.
  • Cold water. Especially in the spring, cold water significantly increases the risk of hypothermia.
  • Fast current. Normally, the higher the water, the faster it is flowing. Things happen fast, you have much less time to react to conditions.

Friday, February 23, 2018


Joys come from simple and natural things: mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water. -- Sigurd F. Olson

The two best reasons to ever buy a kayak rather than just renting one are for the stunning sunsets and splendid sunrises. Those first and last hours of sunlight, that photographers refer to as the "Golden Hour" creates a magnificent mood across the water as the sun slips behind the horizon or climbs steadily into the sky while gliding silently across the lake soaking in twilight’s peaceful enchantment.

On the other hand, there is magic in the night. After the sun sets in a fading crimson glow, while the rising full moon is casting an ethereal light upon the water and giving us just another reason to stay out on the water. There is a peaceful sense of stillness. The boat traffic along with the wind has died down while the birds and animals settle in till morning, leaving the nighttime paddler lost in space between the stars in the heavens and the serene of the water.

"It's one of my favorite activities," wrote Canadian paddler Harvey Chris Wittenberg, "Nothing better than glassy conditions during a full moon, when natural illumination is greatest. The only sounds you hear are the surf or your paddle breaking the water. A very serene "zen-like" moment."

Night paddling is not the time to explore new places. As the light fades as the world transforms into a silver a black panorama and keeping track of your bearings in the dark can be hard to correct. Distances are harder to determine and landmarks can be difficult to see. Wittenberg recommends, to scout out your route ahead of time and leave glow stick on a rock or tree at your launch point to help you find your way back in the pitch black.

"I've had a few times where it was not easy to find my launch point," writes Wittenberg, "Make sure if it is a new area to check it out during daylight first and leave a float plan along with an expected time you'll come back with a loved one,"

While calm inland lakes and protected sea bays usually work the best for a moonlight paddling trip. If choosing a river, it should be free of snags and rapids with a take-out point easy to spot in low light conditions unless you plan to paddle back against the current to your original access point.

For coastal tours, be aware of any changes in the weather that might make any part paddle more hazardous in wind, waves, and tide. Also stay out of commercial shipping lanes. If available, try using GPS mapping to help you identify your location at night.

Consult the U.S Coast Guard's Navigation Rules and have on hand sounding devices, like a whistle or air horn, and some sort of telecommunication device, like a VHF radio or cell phone in a waterproof case and an emergency beacon to alert others who might be far away. Insect repellent and a jacket for cool weather are always a good idea and always wear your PFD.

The most important part kayaking at night, it's essential that you remain visible not only other boat traffic but also members of your own kayaking party. To help the group stay close together, place a battery or an inflatable solar light such as the Luci Light on your bow and stern. Keep in mind that artificial lighting actually hinders our night vision. Keep only a red light to preserve night vision.

In addition, you can, wear a bright LED headlamp and carry a reserve flashlight. If another watercraft approaches, you can turn your headlamp in that direction to alert the other boat to your presence, but keep it off when kayaking or use the red light option to ensure the best view of the illuminating moon.

"It's good to carry a small light on the back of your PFD along with a headlamp," wrote Wittenberg, "I have fluorescent stickers on front and back of my kayak as well as on paddle because the paddle is the highest thing people will see. The best fluorescent stickers are the red and white ones you can get at a Marine store that work in sunlight and darkness, to put on either side of your kayak. Purchase a cheap green glow stick (for the front of the kayak) and a red one for the back."

The rest of 2018's Full Moons.

Studying the mystery of the moon and stillness of the water while gliding silently along in night's enchantment is something every paddler should experience. In the dark, hearing nature’s symphony of frogs and crickets singing from the unseen shore while the moonbeams shimmer across the pond can be a truly magical adventure.

What to go...Check with your outfitter or local state park to see if they offer any moonlit paddle nights. Across the country, many of them provide guided sunset and full moon paddling sessions and with all the gear for a reasonable price. Northern California's Current Adventures has been taking paddlers of all skill levels on their popular moonlit kayaking excursion on Lake Natoma near Sacramento.

Friday, February 16, 2018


The Golden Gate Bridge's daily strip tease from enveloping stoles of mist to full frontal glory is still the most provocative show in town. -- Mary Moore Mason 

Once in a while, it's what you don't see, that creates something unforgettable. 

It's a common weather phenomenon in the San Francisco Bay. The fog pushes its way through the Golden Gate, as each tiny water droplet is suspended in the atmosphere, swirling, drifting and climbing up and over the Marin Headlands before being thrown out over the water like a thick fuzzy fleece blanket, gently tucking in the city right at its shoreline piers.

"I never get tired of the grays and whites that overtake the sky," writes author Kyle Boelte, "Where I search for a million ways to say the word fog to match the million ways I’ve seen it surround me, and fail, always fail, for there is no way to capture it." 

In the distance, the Golden Gate Bridge's towers seem to magically defy gravity and appear suspended and floating in a pillow of clouds. The fog is so dense that the rest of world-famous suspension bridge spanning the one-mile-wide strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean is hidden or a shadow in the mist.  

"Its efficiency cannot conceal the artistry. There is heart there, and soul. It is an object to be contemplated for hours," That is what longtime San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, said about said about his love for that "mystical structure" that he called "the greatest bridge ever built."

Of course, he's is not alone. It seems everyone who cast their eyes on the iconic bridge, even if it's lost in a haze, look on in adoration. It's like that Sacramento based sea kayaker and photographer Tom Gomes. He says his love affair with the Golden Gate Bridge has reached a whole new level after spending a weekend last month photographing the Paddle Golden Gate Symposium from the water.

"Merging my passions for photography, kayaking and the Golden Gate Bridge herself was an opportunity afforded to me by the organizers of the 2018 Paddle Golden Gate Symposium," wrote Gomes in an email, "The vision of paddlers at work with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Downtown San Francisco and Alcatraz as a background is a photographer’s dream come true."

The annual three-day paddling symposium gave area paddlers a challenging series of coastal exercises in the Bay's strong currents and powerful swells to help them advanced and develop their skills with some world's best paddling instructors and athletes.

Of course photographing the sessions like Kenny Howell and Sean Morely's SurfSki Adventure Class as they crossed under the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and out to open water to practice surfing ocean swells prove to be just as daunting.

"Capturing images from a very bouncy, moving boat presents challenges for any seasoned photographer,' wrote Gomes, "No tripod possible of course and knee pads are the knee savers that kept me in the right position to get the best shots. Shooting super fast kept my images sharp and the experienced pilots from SeaTrek knew how to position me with the iconic backgrounds in mind."

Click on the link so you can see all Gomes' photos from Paddle Golden Gate at Photos from Paddle Golden Gate.

Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, we would love to see it. Submit it to us at

Thursday, February 8, 2018


The Trump administration has formally discontinued a major Obama-era clean water regulation. Last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the suspension of the Clean Water Rule for two years, while the administration works to repeal and replace the rule with their own, industry-friendly version.

The Waters of the United States (WOTUS), the rule was designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water, as put forth by the E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. It expanded the protection of headwaters, streams, and 20 million acres of wetlands including large bodies of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and the Mississippi River under the 1972 Clean Water Act. It held farmers and real estate developers accountable for runoff pollution in streams running through their property. because these tributaries can carry fertilizer discharges and other kinds of contamination from agriculture and fossil fuel extraction into the larger bodies of water.

Under fierce criticism, over 100 parties have since challenged water regulation including business groups and some Republican officials, arguing that it was an overstep of government power, prompting President Trump to take aim against the regulation, calling it “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.”
Shortly after taking office, Trump issued an executive order directing the EPA and the Department of the Army to rescind and replace it with less burdensome regulatory requirements on how farmers, ranchers, real estate developers and industry must safeguard the streams and tributaries.

Last week, Pruitt took a major step toward completing that task, by filing legal documents requiring to suspend the water regulation rule for two years. The rule was set to be implemented in the coming weeks, following a Supreme Court decision that said legal challenges to the regulation should be decided in federal district courts. That ruling will result in the lifting of a stay issued by an appeals court blocking the 2015 rule from going into effect.

“Today, E.P.A. is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” Pruitt said in a statement. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”

Republicans cheered the administration’s move saying the regulation was an infringement on property rights for farmers, ranchers.
“The Obama administration’s outrageous Waters of the United States rule would have put backyard ponds, puddles, and farm fields under Washington’s control,” said Senator John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in an interview with the New York Times, “Today’s action will give Wyoming’s ranchers, farmers, small businesses, and communities clarity."

Dozens of states and environmentalists groups have rallied to fight the move. This week, attorneys general from states including New York, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for delaying enforcement of the EPA rule meant to protect waterways saying it wrongly applied to lands far from traditionally “navigable waters.”

"The Trump Administration’s suspension of the Clean Water Rule is clearly illegal, threatening New York’s decades-long efforts to ensure our residents have access to safe, healthy water," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the coalition, "We will fight back against this reckless rollback and the Trump administration’s continued assault on our nation’s core public health and environmental protections.”

In conjunction with the 11 states, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation also filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York to prevent the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from delaying implementation of the regulations.

“The Clean Water Rule protects the bodies of water that feed the drinking water supply for one in three Americans,” said Jon Devine, NRDC senior attorney told The New York Times, “E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt is racing the clock to deny protections for our public health and safety. It’s grossly irresponsible, and illegal."
Environmentalists predicted the rewrite will let polluters off the hook and say the delay is an obvious attempt to make it easier for corporate and agricultural interests to pollute waterways by allowing them to sidestep stiffer regulations.

“This reckless decision by the Trump Administration to suspend the implementation of the Clean Water Rule will put the drinking water for one in three Americans in danger, all so Trump and Scott Pruitt continue to pander to polluters intent on spewing their noxious waste into America’s waterways without accountability." Dalal Aboulhosn, Deputy Legislative Director for Land and Water for the Sierra Club said in a statement released by the environmental organization.

American Rivers, President Bob Irvin also critical of the White House's move says the move undercut water protections against dredging and filling will make innumerable small streams and wetlands that are essential for drinking water supplies, flood protection, and fish and wildlife habitat vulnerable to unregulated pollution.

"Healthy rivers and streams are vital to our communities and economy, and the health of millions of Americans. President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt want to throw away carefully crafted safeguards that were based on strong economic arguments, sound science and broad public support," stated Irvin.

EPA's Pruitt has been targeting WOTUS for years, even before he was in Washington; as Oklahoma attorney general, in 2015 where he lead a multi-state lawsuit against the rule, is expected to roll out his own version diminished of the rules this spring and finalize new rules this year.