Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Snowshoeing the Sierra

Snowshoeing in the Sierra 
 Snowshoeing is increasing in popularity in snowy areas mainly because it is so easy to learn and lots of fun. We picked a trail just off I-80 near Donner Pass in the Tahoe National Forest.  It was a beautiful spring day in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Without a cloud in the sky, the temperatures were balmy. It was t-shirt weather. 
 We left from the Sno Park with our high-tech snowshoes crunching through the snow. After crossing  over a stream, we made our own trail through the trees. The noise of the freeway slowly faded away  with each step. The snow was deep;  the terrain was rugged. Without snowshoes, the hike would have been impossible. At the top we enjoyed the pay off of our trek... a view of Castle Peak,  a 9,104 foot sentinel of the Sierra. 

Tips and Tricks for Snowshoers
To ascend a slope kick the front of your snowshoe into the snow and press down to compact it into a step. Make sure that each new step is sufficiently above the last one to avoid collapse.

Heel cleats are the key to an easy descent. Keep your knees slightly bent, lean back and  keep your weight on the heel cleats to maintain control.

The best way to traverse a slope is to kick the side of the snowshoe into the hillside, engaging the cleats. Swing your heel hard towards the uphill slope, then stomp down, securing the snowshoe edge in the slope. Poles are also helpful.

Breaking Trail
When snowshoeing in a group, walk in a single line behind the leader who is breaking the trail. When it is your turn to lead, take consistent, even steps that are easy for everyone to follow.

Safety Tips for Snowshoers
Check with the local weather service before you head out. Conditions can sometimes change abruptly.

Make sure someone knows where you will be snowshoeing and your expected time of return, even if you are not going alone.

When snowshoeing with a group, make sure everyone is comfortable with the pace and demands of the trail. Count the number of people in your group before you leave and make sure everyone in the group knows this number. Stop every 30 minutes to allow everyone in the group to catch up.

Know your limits and don't surpass them! 

Copyright © 1998 Atlas Snow-Shoe Company. All Rights Reserved. 
Nick & Debbie across from Castle Peak.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kayaking with the Stars

Camera ready kayak.
 My kayaks have become stars for television. They were used by Windsong Productions in a commercial being filmed on Lake Natoma.  The production crew was working on an upcoming TV spot promoting air quality for the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.
 Before going out on the water, crew members outfitted one kayak's bow with a camera. Actors then paddled across the lake in tandem of each other to create the shot.  An aerial drone with camera also hovered them to provide extra footage.
 In my tandem kayak, I paddled around the photographer so he could position the kayaks in the shot he wanted. It was all filmed during sunset to furnish the best light.
 So look for my kayaks paddling through your TV screen some time soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sunset on Folsom Lake

Bayside Adventure Sports Erik Allen leader of the Tuesday evening Activities

It is said, "The best reason to own a kayak, is for the sunrises and the sunsets."

  It's an evening I have always wished for. Pleasant temperatures, no wind, flat water and the sun gently settle into a hazy sky.  The water couldn't be more inviting for me and my fellow boaters. The kayaks are quickly unloaded and slipped into the water. Our leader gives a prayer of thanks. Amen, it is a perfect evening for kayaking.

 Today I'm with members of Bayside Adventure Sports, an active outdoors church group.  Transformation through recreation in God's creation is the guiding ideal for participants. The group organizes weekly biking, hiking, skiing, and kayaking outings, along with camping and ski trips throughout the year.

 We launch out of Granite Bay boat ramp of Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. The lake seems to be making a come back now after a very dry winter. The lake was ground zero for California drought's media coverage this past winter, but now is on a slow rise. According to the lady at the gate, the lake is at 50 percent capacity with room for more.

  The lake is motionless. The reflection creates mirror images of us gliding across the water.  Our  bows and paddles splinter the surface of the water producing it's only wrinkle. Occasionally we rock in the waves of passing motor boats, but it's mostly stillness. Before long, the sky burns orange while the water turns golden. It is a timeless experience. The sun doesn't seem to hurry and neither do we.

Check for more information on Tuesday Evening Activities.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Parkway Part II, Urban Paddler

After the H Street Bridge, the American River speeds up in spots before turning west. 

 The Lower American River has something for everyone. The recreational waterway meanders through the heart of Sacramento, Ca. The American River Parkway as it is called is a paddler's delight.  Easy access, reliable flows, and a good view of nature even in this urban setting of the parkway. There is a good mix of fast moving currents, along with some slow and lazy tranquil water around each bend.

  I met up with seven Sacramento Paddle Pushers for a weekend outing on the river.  We pushed off at the popular Howe Avenue Access area. Going down the river at the start, we first encountered the Howe Avenue Bridge followed by the city's water treatment facility. Before long we cross under the Guy West Pedestrian Bridge at the Sacramento State campus. If we were to keep going from here all the way to the confluence with the Sacramento River we pass under another 8 bridges. They are the only real way, we can tell that we are paddling through a city. The banks of the river are lined with trees and nature is in abundance. We see turtles and different types of aquatic birds along the way. It is hard to think, that we are in the middle of Sacramento.

Just past the H Street bridge, a series fast moving water appears running through the gravel bars. This is our turning around point for today. We will have to push our kayaks past some ripples on our way back. Once past them, it is an easy paddle back toward Howe Avenue.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Daffodil Hill

 Daffodil Hill is a multi-generational project dating back to a family's original flower garden, planted in the late 1800s.  It has become a popular tourist destination now near Volcano, California,  attracting thousands of people every spring to come see the golden blooms.
 The original property owner planted daffodils around his cabin. The flowers were a good choice because they were left untouched by the deer and the gophers.  In 1887, the McLaughlin family purchased the ranch and under their care the daffodil garden flourished. Each year they divided and replanted the bulbs increasing the size of their garden. As the flowers grew, so did the interest. Each year more and more people came to visit. Before long their ranch became know as Daffodil Hill.
 Each year from mid March to mid April the hillside is open to the public. Seven acres are dedicated to only daffodils. As many as 300 different varieties speckle the knoll to give an abundance of over 40,000 annual blooms each spring. Every year between 8 and 1600 new bulbs new are planted. It mainly daffodils, but now tulips are mixed in here and there. Visitors wander the planted hillside free of charge to gaze at the yellow and white blooms. They have some 4,000 guests on some weekend days.