Friday, June 15, 2018

THE AUBURN RIVER FESTIVAL


For the past decade, Northern California's North Fork of American of the River and its Auburn Whitewater Park has been mostly passed over by the area boating community. More often than not, lock gates and difficult access or several miles of flat-water paddling have made passing through the decommissioned dam site and man-made rapids less than ideal for paddlers.
However, the Auburn River Festival team wants to change all that by showcasing that portion of the river and its waterpark.


“We want to celebrate the beauty of the American River,” said Alex Wolfgram, the director of Auburn River Festival told The Mountain Democrat,“This is a festival to make people aware of the whitewater park and a celebration of a free-flowing river on the site of a decommissioned dam that’s been repurposed for recreation.” 

Who doesn't love a whitewater festival? Last weekend's event brought together some 60 whitewater paddlers from throughout the region to compete in a variety of river competitions. For spectators, it was a free community party, that also featured six live bands, food vendors, community information booths,  a silent auction and activities for kids.


The main attraction, of course, was the river. Located downstream from the North Fork and Middle Fork confluence at the former dam's foundation, the whitewater park features a continuous series of five man-made drops that become increasingly difficult from start to bottom. A special release was negotiated with the Placer County Water Agency provided an extra surge for surfing waves.

"They delivered. I really want to thank those guys, " said Wolfgram, "The paddlers showed up. Which is what we wanted and I think the water showed up, which was great. I think everyone was pretty blown away at the level of whitewater and the awesomeness of the event.  Everyone was really stoked. I think it definitely pushed the limits for some of our paddlers "

For whitewater boaters, the Auburn River Festival was special. It was an excuse to see the old crew and meet new friends, paddle a new stretch river, catch some big water and simply celebrate the act of kayaking.

"It was awesome." said Grass Valley, paddler Caitlin Scheder, "It was all-around a good day. There was really fun paddling. There was a lot of good stoke. Everyone was really excited. I spent most of my time on the water, but I heard the music too. And it sounded really good."

The festival had three traditional kayaking competitions including a downriver race, slalom races, an Olympic event and the fan favorite, whitewater rodeo, giving everyone a taste of the river.

"The water park was really fun," said Scheder, "I don't live that far away, I wish it were open more. You can surf all the waves. You can practice your salmon.  There are not many salomon courses around so it's really cool. It was really fun and I'm really happy!"

Festival organizers look toward the future hoping to make this celebration an annual event to help create awareness of the recreational opportunities in the Auburn State Recreation Area.

"We had a great turn out today," said Wolfgram, "I say maybe 1,000 people. It was a lot of work, but it's great for getting people together to help protect the river. Hopefully, we can have a successful event like this in the years to come."


All the profits from Auburn River Festival will be donated to Protect American River Canyons (PARC) whose organizational mission is to "protect the natural, recreational, and cultural resources of the North and Middle Fork American River Canyons for all to care for and enjoy." For more information on the Auburn River Festival check out AuburnRiverFestival.com

Friday, June 8, 2018

ALL YOU CAN PADDLE: PADDLE TOWN SACRAMENTO



Ever go to a restaurant buffet and you're almost overwhelmed by the selection of items? There is American, there is Mexican, Asian, and Italian. There is seafood, fried food, barbecue and even pizza. I mean there is something for everyone and so much to sample, that there is no way you can get everything all on your plate for just one sitting.

That's what it's like when it comes to Sacramento area and the American River. It's a year-round paddling smorgasbord for everyone's taste and appetite that will leave you stuffed yet craving more.

Adrenaline junkies will lick their chops for whitewater delicacies of the three forks of the American River, only an hour away from Sacramento. During the spring and summer, the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork are the area playgrounds for whitewater kayakers and rafters of all different levels. Commercial whitewater rafting outfitters offer a wide variety of river experiences, while The River Store, provides a cafeteria of boating supplies,  boat demos and kayaking instruction.

"There are multiple runs of varying difficulty," says area paddler Martin Beebee, "All of which are easily accessible: from moderate Class I and II rapids, perfect for learning to navigate whitewater, to Class V runs with plenty of challenges. So there’s a variety to choose from, depending on what kind of adventure you’re in the mood for."

The South Fork of the American River
The South Fork dishes up a recipe for some serious fun in its first five miles from the Chili Bar access filled full of exciting Class III whitewater with rapids with scary names like Meat-Grinder and Trouble Maker. The so-called easy section serves appetizer through the valley consisting of several Class II rapids including Barking Dog, before gorging down "The Gorge", the river's most challenging series of Class III rapids descending at 33-feet per mile toward Folsom Lake.

For area sea kayakers, Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma are hors-d'oeuvres of delight while prepping for a big trip to San Francisco Bay or Tamales Bay, while the rec and SUP paddlers will revel in the classic comfort of both lakes' bays and sloughs.
Folsom Lake

Forget summer weekends. Come to Folsom Lake either mid-week or wait until late fall or early spring to escape the speed boat and jet ski crowd. Out in the open, it can feel like the ocean with the wind and waves, but there are a few quiet and scenic spots like on the lake's north arm worth exploring. You might have to choke down the Delta Breeze, but you will savor the sunsets.

And if Folsom Lake is a little too hard to swallow, all paddlers will gobble up Lake Natoma.
Lake Natoma

"Lake Natoma is great for many reasons," said local paddler and photographer Tom Gomes, "Living in the Sacramento area, we are so fortunate to have such easy access to such a resource that offers incredible views. It’s big enough to get a good exercise paddle and there are no power boats to compete with."

This narrow and popular 5-mile lake is the main entree of the area's paddling venues. It's an a-la-carte of racing shells crews, outrigger canoes, SUP paddlers and kayaks and sailboats sprinkled over the waterway. Outfitters use the lake for classes and moonlit tours while racing crews have been known to hog-up much of the lake a few weekends a year.

Want just a taste of the lake's fare? Kayaks and SUPs are available for rent at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center. Sit back and enjoy the sun or go a nature safari while exploring the lake's sloughs.

Lake Natoma
"It’s very scenic with more wildlife than anywhere else," added Gomes, "I paddle the Natoma sloughs quite often, but it never ceases to amaze me how removed I feel from the real world while realizing that I’m right in the middle of a densely populated urban area. I feel like I’m Huck Finn, exploring uncharted waters with abundant wildlife, just waiting for the alligator to swim by."

The lake with its three California State Parks' access points is lined with biking and hiking trails encompassing its shores. Bird watchers will feast one's eyes at sightings of geese, herons, egrets, cormorants and bald eagles flying and nesting along its banks. The lake is home to many established rookeries to nesting colonies while migrating birds arrive in the spring and stay throughout the summer.

Lower American River
The American River is a sweet treat for everyone. This 23-mile recreational waterway meanders through the heart of Sacramento along The American River Parkway. Seasoned with a good mix of fast moving currents, along with some slow and lazy flows to satisfy every water enthusiasts cravings. Not just for paddlers, more than 5 million visitors annually indulge in this wildlife and recreation area.

"I love paddling on the American River especially in the off-season when the wildlife is stirring around and the people are not," said Sacramento paddler  Lynn Halsted. "Early morning or late afternoon and evening are always my favorite times. Watching river otters and beaver swim around and doing their thing while I watch from a distance is magical."

San Juan Rapids
Just downstream from the Sunrise Access, San Juan Rapids spices up the river for boaters and summer-time rafters. A constant Class II rapid stretching out more than halfway across the river creates a long and vibrant wave train and chaotic churning eddy that can scarf up unsuspecting paddlers.

Further down, the river is peppered with a few ripples, but mostly it's an easy slow baked urban paddle all the way down to the Sacramento River,  serving up views of bridges and large pleasure boats to mark the progress to Discovery Park and the confluence of the two rivers. From there, nothing is stopping you from having a pie in the sky dream of going on a paddling binge all the way to the Golden Gate.

Lower American River.
So whatever boating you have might a hankering for, in Sacramento,  you'll be able to fill your plate and come back for seconds again and again, to satisfy your paddling hunger and nourishment.

And don't worry about taking too much. There is enough for everyone.


This article was originally published in Canoe & Kayak, May 7, 2018.

Friday, June 1, 2018

KAYAK PACKING

Loon Lake

Your adventure begins here...

 

Kayakpacking floats happily at the corner of backpacking and adventure cycling. It contains elements of both short and long distance backpacking adventures with the additional range and solitude and locations that can only be achieved by kayak. Kayakpacking is going places on rivers, lakes, swamps, oceans, fjords and waterways carrying everything you need to survive in the wild.

 

By Outside Adventure to the Max Guest Blogger John D'Amelio


If you already have the gear you need for an overnight campout you are 90% on the way to your first adventure.  Start by using what you have, pick a short and safe flatwater route (7-15 miles) on a lake or calm river nearby and borrow or rent a kayak.  You'll learn everything else as you go knowing you are never far from a bailout. The best kayak to use is the one you already have or can borrow from a friend or relative. Add a few dry bags to your kit and you'll be almost ready to paddle. Our primary focus is on 'Sea' or 'Touring' kayaks but kayak packing doesn't necessarily rely on boats with dry storage bulkheads. Additionally, you can search your local or regional craigslist for used kayaks, personal flotation devices (PFD's) and paddles.

What to look for in a Kayak


No matter the type of water your adventure finds your best bet for any multi-day kayak packing adventure is a kayak that will be comfortable to sit in, easy to steer, and has ample room for your gear to be reasonably dry and secured. Sea or touring kayaks are built for this purpose. They have a seat that you can be comfortable in for long periods of time, storage bulkheads that remain mostly dry and keep your gear secure and most have either a rudder that is controlled with your feet or a retractable skeg that aids in keeping the craft true and stable.

Other features to look for are a craft with a long length (typically 13'-16') and a beam that is not more than 24" both of which make sea kayaks easier to paddle long distances.

Other things you'll want to consider when setting up your kayak packing kit:

1. Safety


Somewhere some lobby somewhere decided that the term 'life vest' was just too inadequate or potentially litigious to fully embody its function or protect itself from financial ruin.  We expect the later.  Enter 'Personal Flotation Device' or 'PFD'.  By whatever term you use this is not something in which to overlook but you need not spend a small fortune on either, plus there are many products that feature storage pockets that keep essential gear like bug spray, navigational aids and snacks within reach as you paddle throughout your journey.

2. Dry storage


Just assume that everything that you pack – food, cooking gear, shelter and clothing – is going to get wet.  Its one of the undeniable truths of outdoor adventures and even more so true of kayak parking.  Fear not, this is something we can manage through waterproof 'dry bags', ziplock bags and Tupperware.  We'll help you decide what absolutely need to keep dry and those items in your kit that can go without any extreme protection measures.

3. Hydration


'Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink' bemoaned the Ancient Mariner.  Unfortunately, this may not only be true of salt water routes as many freshwater routes may have unfilterable water due to AgChemical and other environmental runoff.  Fear not. Filter if you can but thankfully there are many options for hauling along what you need ranging from stainless steel bottles to multi-liter bladders.

4. Accessories


There is a wide variety of accessories specific to kayak packing that will help you be both more efficient in your storage and comfortable in the cockpit.  If your kayak lacks specific storage bulkheads there are deck bags that can strap to the bow and stern to expand your touring capacity.  Map cases come in many shapes and sizes and help to keep them dry and close at hand. And not to mention cupholders that can keep one of the most important items – coffee – close during your morning paddle.

Camping gear

Kayakpacking shares a lot with its backpacking cousins when it comes to gear.  Most certainly the lighter the better holds true when it comes to efficiently packing out your kayak, but it's somewhat less important than if you had the same items strapped to your back or bike.  Sure, a lighter kit is easier to handle in upper-class rapids or on the occasional portage (when you have to drag or carry your craft overland) but there is no need to take out a loan to get everything before your first adventure.  Start out with what you already own or can borrow and then update your gear as you gain more experience.

Our budget camping and gear recommendations: 

Loon Lake

Kayak

Paddle + spare
NRS cVest mesh back PFD
Bilge pump
Spray skirt
SeaLine Dry bags
Signaling whistle
Large sponge
Compass or GPS
Sealine map case

Shelter

REI Half-dome 2-plus tent
NeoAir XLite MAX SV mattress
Streamlight 66318 MicroStream
Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Sleep Bag

HAMMOCK OPTION

Eno Doublenest hammock
Chill Gorillla tarp
Chill Gorilla mosquito net

Kitchen

Etekcity camp stove (2x)
Stove fuel (2x)
Solopot 30oz cook pot
CRKT Spork
Trowel
Lighter
  

John D'Amelio serves as the Executive Editor of Kayakpacking.co.  When he's not dreaming about, planning or editing kayak adventures he is a freelance designer and writer. He calls central North Carolina home where he lives with his wife of 28 years.

Launched in late 2017 kayakpacking.co  is a resource specifically devoted to longer distance kayaking adventures. Their goal is to give paddlers the tools and materials you need to follow published routes while inspiring you to seek out and plan your own adventures.

Kayakpacking.co's route system has grown in a very short time to over 600 miles of documented flatwater (0-II class) trails and counting with over 400 more miles currently in development. Check out their getting started series. It walks you through everything you need to know to plan a simple overnighter to a full-blown multi-week kayak packing adventure.

Outside Adventure to the Max is always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at Nickayak@gmail.com, if you are interested.

Friday, May 25, 2018

JUMP INTO SUMMER 2018

Courtesy of Deborah Ann Klenzman

Brace yourself, place yourself and pace yourself! Summer is upon us. Memorial Day Weekend, the Official Unofficial Start of Summer is here. Load up the boat, pack your swimsuit and get outside for a summer of adventure and fun. Not sure where to start?  We have some great tips on ways to make this summer unforgettable. So as Dr. Seuss said,“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way.”

 

Make Memories
Social media essentially took over our lives and the selfie is now part of every outside outing. But, shooting a good Instagram photo with your camera phone is harder than it looks. Photographer Deborah Ann Klenzman suggests shooting from different angles. "Don't settle for just an ordinary shot," said Klenzman. "Try a photo from above looking down on your subject or lie on the floor and shoot up. Experiment with your filters on your camera phone or on Instagram.  She also suggests catching all the events of your vacation, even the difficult moments. "If your car breaks down and you have to hitchhike, take a photo of the guy who gave you a ride. If your ride from the airport falls through and you end up on a city bus take some pictures of the unexpected adventure. These are memories we don't normally think to take pictures of,  but they can be fun things to share and look back on." Progressive Portraits

 


Kayaking 101
What's not to love about gliding across a glassy stretch of the lake as your kayak knifes through the water as you escape the hustle and bustle. It's true anyone can rent a kayak and begin to paddle right away. However, most don't even bother to take a class to learn the basic skills needed to bravely and safely paddle a kayak.
"By the end of the 3-hour class after we learned the basics," said Current Adventure Kayaking School & Trips student Joyce Molthen, "I was confident in my basic skills, so much so that I wanted to go right out and buy a kayak and go to the lake every day. The complete serenity of the kayaking experience and enjoying nature in the midst of a large city is a dream come true for me. I’ve already signed up for another class." Current Adventures

Ride A River
From big water rapids to calm lazy flow, a river experience is a summer must for those seeking adventures, recreation and wildlife viewing along a watery trail. It's said, you cannot step into the same river twice, so expect something different each time.
"I love river paddling so much because it is never the same experience," said Aqua-Bound's and Bending Branches' Brian Boyea, "Because of all the variables that change from trip to trip (weather, water levels, scenery, paddling buddies, etc.) Each trip out on the river is a new and exciting adventure." Aqua-Bound, Bending Branches, American Rivers.

Courtesy of Dave Gieseke
Time Travel
 You don't need a time machine to take a blast in the past. By visiting State Historic Parks and National Historic Sites you can charge at Gettysburg, head westward along the Oregon Trail or look for gold in Calfornia. Understanding history is best done by walking the ground of where it happened. "History isn’t always pretty. In fact, America’s past is pockmarked with warts" said My National Parks Project blogger Dave Gieseke, "But if you really want to know why life is how it is today, go to a historical park. Every time I visit a historical site I learn something new, something that has a direct influence on today’s world." My National Parks Project, US Park Service 



Pedal Off The Path
"It's very exciting and kind of intimating," said Any Mountain's Richard Chapman when you turn your bike off the pavement for the first time. You’re on a bicycle riding now on dirt and rocks and over all types of terrain which can be nerve-wracking and terrifying all at the same time. "But it's always fun," added Chapman, "You can increase your fitness, lose some weight and live a healthy lifestyle." So brush on your bike repairs in case of an untimely flat, strap on your helmet and hold on tight, it's going to a bumpy ride. Any Mountain


Rock The Rock
Looking for fitness, fun and along with a rush of adrenaline? Look up and never look down. Rock climbing is a perfect fit. Rock climbing or bouldering as some of the daredevil climbers call it is enjoyed by clans of everyday adventures across the country.  "Climbing is not only an exercise for the body but an excellent exercise for the mind." said climber Chris Waller-Bennett, "Not only do you have to climb, you have to create a plan in your head executing a sequence of moves you want to make. It's like piecing together a puzzle"
Courtesy of Bayside Adventure Sports
Waller-Bennett says the best way to get started to try out at your local climbing gym where you will get outfitted with the proper equipment and instruction. GRAGS 


Walk To A Waterfall
"Twisting through the thorn-thick underbrush, scratched and exhausted, one turns suddenly to find an unexpected waterfall, not half a mile from the nearest road, a spot so hard to reach that no one comes. A hiding place, a shrine for dragonflies and nesting jays." is how American poet Michael Dana Gioia described his trek to a hidden waterfall. Whether on a long hike or a short walk there is no better reward at the end of the path than the spectacular sight of a waterfall. State and national parks from the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains to Yosemite offer beautiful and inspiring views of cascading water. Stay on the trails and observation decks, watch your footing rocks can be slippery and never lean over the ledge at the top of the falls. Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, Explore Minnesota, Tahoe


Snack On S'mores
Don't rough it. Glamp it by topping of your campfire with the perfect s'more. "S'more are crucial for any campout. What's a good good camp out without the best dessert?" said camping mom Christy Harris Bryant, "You have three ways to go with your marshmallow combinations, (Graham cracker, Hershey's Chocolate Bar or get wild and crazy and use Reese's Peanut Butter Cups) raw, toasted, or the third option is where you can put on all of the combinations together in a foil packet, put it on your campfire and cook it up. But you have to pay close attention because the golden rule with s'mores is. Never burnt, never burnt, Nobody wants a burnt s'more." Canoeroots 


Get Star Struck
Staying up late sprawled out on the ground and taking in the night sky has become increasingly harder to do from the comfort of our own backyards. It’s estimated that two-thirds of the country can’t see the Milky Way anymore. Only wilderness areas offer the luxury of stargazing with boundless dark skies to truly see the constellations,  The Northern Lights and Perseid Meteor Shower.
"Experience the Perseid Meteor Shower and a glowing Sierra Full Moon from your kayak." said Current Adventures' Dan Crandall, who offers an annual trip to California's Loon Lake during the August peak of the meteor shower,  "No light pollution, no crowds, only nature’s sounds and a huge sky above you." Current Adventures

Friday, May 18, 2018

SEEKING THE STRAITS OF ANIAN

Darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. -- J.R.R. Tolkien


It's a gray day along the coast. In the distance I can see a pair of sea kayakers, just specks silhouetted against the silvery sky and water, dipping in an out of sight with each heave of the ocean.
“A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it," wrote American writer Stephen Crane in his classic tale The Open Boat.
Kayaking in La Jolla Cove
Closer to shore, waves one after another pound the rugged rocky coastline in a rhythmic display of rolling crashing curls, foam and spray. It's pure reverie to watch from my panoramic view from a seaside cliff overlooking La Jolla Cove north of San Diego, California.

At low tide, this rocky beach reveals fascinating pools of water with full of strange and mysterious sea life. Nearby is the Children’s Pool, a seawall built to protect kids from incoming waves, but now it has been taken over by the local harbor seal population during annual seal pupping season. They rest on the beach with little interest to the tourists taking cell phone pictures. I'll walk out along the well-worn path of the seawall for a close-up view of this marine world.


The Children's Pool in La Jolla
It's a crossroads in a way. A place of safety and trust inside the protected cove, while just to other side of the seawall there is an inspirational and yet formidable view of uncertainty where the future rises and falls with each wave. It's almost summer and big adventures are what lay ahead, but only after leaving the security of the cove. The journey awaits. You can look, but there are no shortcuts.

In June 1542, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo departed from the West Coast of Mexico and sailed northward along the coastline of the Pacific in search of the Strait of Anian, the mythical all-water route across North America, a cousin in sorts to the legendary Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Since Columbus' voyages, Europeans had hopes of finding a shorter route to the Orient. Once, realizing that North America was not India but an entirely different continent, the explorers still thought that an elusive all-water navigable route through the New World might be found.

Hugging the coastline and repeatedly sailing east into any promising bay or cove that would hopefully lead to the Strait of Anian, Cabrillo became one of the first Europeans to explore what would become California's coastline. He is credited with the discovering San Diego Bay, Santa Catalina Island, San Clemente, San Pedro Bay and Monterey Bay, yet totally missed the fog encased San Francisco Bay. He got as far as the Russian River before turning back.
Portaging on the American River

Cabrillo died after a wound became infected by gangrene on the return voyage and
his discoveries went unnoticed because all of the expedition records were lost after his death.
Of course, he failed to discover the Strait of Anian. That southern shortcut linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would never be found.  It would take another 363 years before an Arctic explorer would make the first all-water crossing over North America. Cold and far too treacherous it was hardly a shortcut to the Orient.

I look out over the horizon of the ocean at the end of the seawall. From this point, I can feel the ebb and flow of the sea run through me. The salty air kisses my lips and the ocean spray licks my feet. I imagine Cabrillo expedition sailing past me and exploring the bay. I know the magic of travel by way of water. It’s that time of year again. The water is calling, beckoning us to come on out and explore and search for the quickest route. But beware, as J.R.R. Tolkien, warned, “Shortcuts make long delays.” Until then, be smart, have fun, and be safe!

The American River

Here is a look at some of my favorite images from this year so far. 

We are always looking for guest bloggers to share their adventures stories and pictures. Keep up with Outside Adventure to the Max on our Facebook page and Instagram.

Lake Natoma

North Fork of the American River
The River Store
Stumpy Meadows
Paddling with Current Adventures
A sunset paddle on Lake Natoma

Friday, May 4, 2018

BORN TO PADDLE, KAYAKING WITH KIDS


The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are. --- Lynn Culbreath Noel

"Can I fall in?"

That question is usually unheard of in my adult classes. Just the thought of rolling upside in their kayak would strike terror into them. But, this query came from smiling freckled-face ten-year-old girl with boundless energy and little fear.

"Sure if you want to," I replied.

The girl and kayak in one motion capsize with a plop, gurgle and splash. An instant later, in textbook maneuver, she lowers her head to the bow, pushes her legs and feet clear of the kayak and then drops them to the bottom and brings her still smiling face up alongside her kayak.

It's an annual rite of summer on Lake Natoma near Sacramento Ca., as nearly dozen kids were taking part in Current Adventures Kayaking School & Trips youth kayaking classes. There students learned paddling skills and water safety while developing a deep appreciation nature.

"Kids love kayaking and most take to it almost instantly," said Current Adventures' Dan Crandall, "We get them smiling at the beginning of class and have them laughing by the end."

Anyone who works with kids regularly knows they come with have short attention spans and aren't to focused on learning the technical aspects of the forward, back or sweep strokes. The key for instructor John Weed is to keeping paddling exercises fun, short and interesting. He used a game of keep-a-way to get the students to paddle and steer their boats. From the shore, it looked like a mayhem of bumper boats crashing about the lake, but before long the students are discovering how to propel and turn their boats while chasing a green ball.


Another game Weed used to help kids practice boat control all while having fun was called Sharks and Minnows. He is instructed one kid to be a shark while all the other kids were all minnows.

"I'm hungry!" called out the shark.

"And I'm a little minnow," cried the scattering minnows trying not to get tagged by the shark, because once tagged they become a shark. It kept going until every paddler became a shark. By using these active games the young kayakers were soon making new friends and having fun all while building paddling skills that they can be used on the lake or river.
2018 Current Adventures Kayaking School and Trips Summer Schedule

Kids Kayaking Lessons
Ages: 8-11 yrs.
Prerequisites: none
Location: Lake Natoma
Cost: $169 (Includes 10% State Park fee.  Parking is extra.)
Time: (3 days) 9:30am – 12:30pm
2018 Dates: June18-20 ( M-W), July 9-11 ( M-W)
July 31-Aug 2 (Tue-Thu)


Junior Beginning Kayaking 
Ages: 10-14 yrs.
Prerequisites:  No prerequisites for beginning classes other than age appropriate.
Location:
Lake Natoma & Lower American River (on day 3).
Cost: $169 (Includes 10% State Park fee.)

2018 Dates:
June 18-20 ( M-W), July 09-11 ( M-W)
July 31-Aug 02 (Tue-Thu)

Time: (3 days) 1:30pm – 5:30pm
Progression:  Teen Camp, Touring Classes, Private Classes and for ages 12 and up consider Eppie’s Junior Training program.

Next, it was off to explore. Across the flat-water, the lake offers some special hideaways like “Swampland” and “Berry Pond". As the kids toured the hidden backwaters occupied by turtles, tadpoles, deer and other critters, the wonders of nature came alive to them. Quietly paddling along they became naturalists as they explored and made their own discoveries in the lush wetland.

On day three the Junior class ages 10-14, moved on to the easy moving waters of the Lower American River. On the river, the young paddlers after two days of paddling lessons tested their new skills on moving water. While a little apprehension came over the group at the sound of rushing water, but it was all smiling at the other end after they punched through a series of fast water. Before the day was over the youths are immersed in river reading, river signals, and moving water paddling maneuvers.

"This class leaves them begging for more, said Crandall, "The kids always leave these classes super excited and many come back year after year."
Meanwhile back on the lake, I had pushed the kayak up on to shore and dump all the water out of it with help from the still smiling and dripping wet ten-year-old girl. I was going to get plenty of practice doing over next couple days when she asked, "Can I do that again?"


 If you want to go
Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips 
PHONE: 530-333-9115 or Toll-Free: 888-452-9254
FAX: 530-333-1291
USPS: Current Adventures, P.O. Box 828, Lotus, CA 95651
info@currentadventures.com
owner Dan Crandall dan@kayaking.com

This article was originally published in Outside Adventure to the Max July 7, 2017. 


Lost and Found
Ever catch yourself saying, "Hey, I'm having such a great time, let's stay out a little longer."
I'm sure that is what James Matthew Soltis of Illinois thought when he extended his already 10-day kayaking trip in Everglades National Park in Florida this past March.
However, his daughter did not. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, she reported him missing when he didn’t return as planned from the Everglades Wilderness Waterway.
The search was quickly launched and Soltis was found camping by a helicopter crew circling from above the next morning.

Friday, April 27, 2018

OVER THE BOW: ALDER CREEK


It's the song of the mountains. The annual spring anthem of harmonious hisses, splashes and gurgles that builds and swells into a roaring crescendo in each alpine stream and river. Writer Wallace Stegner called it "a steady renewal of force; transient and eternal, " that every sense applauds.

"Listen again to its sounds," he wrote in The Sound of Mountain Water: The Changing American West  "Get far enough away so that the noise of falling tons of water does not stun the ears, and hear how much is going on underneath... The small talk of side channels, the whisper of blown and scattered spray gathering itself and beginning to flow again, secret and irresistible, among the wet rocks."

That rumbling symphony of raging water turned out to be a trumpet's call for elite paddlers after a series of late-winter storms pumped moisture into the veins of the Northern California water supply. Like a blast from a fire hose, these "atmospheric rivers," as these storms are known as, produced massive quantities of snow and rain, causing an explosion of high-water conditions in the region's creeks and streams. For extreme paddlers like Gavin Rieser, there couldn't ever be a more perfect storm.

"It is probably the gnarliest bit of whitewater I have paddled," wrote Rieser on his Facebook page, "It starts off with super fun and super nonstop Class 4 to 4+5, with an optional hike out for those not willing to brave the depths of the canyon below."

Sacramento's Rieser and his paddling partner Harry Lopez took advantage of flooded Alder Creek, a tributary to the South Fork American River, west of Kyburz, California. While the South Fork section is a local paddling favorite, the creek is more of a mystery.

"I'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering what might lay upstream," posted Rieser, "The creek has seen some descents both at the bottom and much higher up, and I myself paddled a short section above the meadows a few years ago. What amazes me is how much of it actually goes. While there are a few mandatory portages, most of the stuff we did walk was runnable. We either weren't feeling it or walked due to safety and time concerns."

Rieser estimated the steepest part of the nearly 2-mile section of the canyon has several drops between 5 to 15-feet, with its biggest fall at nearly 60-feet.

"It is relentless," he wrote on his Facebook post, "I dub it, the "Gorge of Gnarnia." Really,  it's more like 2 gorges separated by super steep boulder gardens reminiscent of Middle Kings, but hey, who's counting? If you want your Class 5+ fix, I highly recommend the "Gorge of Gnarnia."

According to Rieser it took them nearly 8-hours to explore, scout and paddle the rugged and steepest nearly 2-mile section of Light Canyon's Alder Creek before hiking out very tired and sore.

"There were many more amazing and epic rapids," stated Rieser on Facebook, "Most of them we ran, many of the ones we walked were runnable but portaged due to safety and time concerns."

We are all called to that serenade of rushing water echoing through the canyons. In its encore performance, we look forward to hearing it every year in winter's finale and spring's overturn. Its repeated refrain of nature's chorus that seems to perpetually speaks to us. As mountain climber and environmentalist David Brower said, "Let the mountains talk, let the river run. Once more, and forever. "

Rieser is the Where is Waldo of kayaking in California. He, his pickup truck and kayak travel everywhere in Northern California looking for steepest roads and biggest drops. You can see all Rieser's' photos on Facebook and follow him on Instagram at @kayakerdude1435.  Check out his videos on YouTube.

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