Monday, April 27, 2015

Over the Bow: Lake Natoma & the Rainbow Bridge

My talented wife Debbie Klenzman Carlson owner of Progressive Portraits made some impressive images me kayaking Lake Natoma under the Rainbow Bridge in Folsom.


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Friday, April 24, 2015

Bay to Bay

                                       
Lake Natoma

 Rivers are the primal highways of life. From the crack of time, they had borne men's dreams, and in their lovely rush to elsewhere, fed our wanderlust, mimicked our arteries, and charmed our imaginations in a way the static pond or vast and savage ocean never could. ---Tom Robbins 


Sometimes I'm just at a loss for words to describe the joy I have for kayaking along on a lake, a river and now the ocean. I got into boating roughly five years ago this month and haven't looked back. Each day on the water fades into a dream only a picture can tell. Bright days, cloudy days and moonlit nights have been chronicled in my photographs of my paddling adventures. Here are a few of my favorite images from this year so far.


Lake Natoma

Paddle Pushers on Lake Natoma

 
Moonlight Paddle on Lake Natoma

Lower American River
Rollins Lake


Folsom Lake

Folsom lake

Folsom Lake

North of the American River

San Francisco Bay

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our Faithful Strap



 The strap. It is a simple thing. A strong canvas, leather, or woven fabric nylon webbing that offer strong results. Used in place of a rope, its fasteners or buckles hold things in place. A mere two-inch-wide strip nylon can tow a car or truck. They come in a variety of lengths and colors. And when it comes to boating, its overlooked and often forgotten both in our thoughts and literally at the boat access. 

You will never see your favorite boater's magazines with headlines like these... New Straps for 2015... Boater's Guide for Straps 2016.... or What Your Strap Color Say About You.  That would just be silly. Canoes and kayaks will always get the glory. Those sleek, majestic and noble crafts that put us on to the lake and stream filling our paddling dreams. But, we ought to realize we would never even get close to the water without our faithful strap.

It was invented before time. Our prehistoric ancestors lashed their supplies together while trekking through the snow across what is now Europe chasing the woolly mammoth.
Needing provisions all tied together all tied together would of course help then to inspire travois, dogsleds and then the wheel. If man would travel he would need a strap.
 
The buckle came later. The Romans would developed it for their soldier's helmets and body armor.  Made out of bronze, these buckles were functional for their strength and durability for the centurion. The concept is still used today in our plastic helmets and buoyant PFDs. But it was the strap that helped conquer the world. To carry a sword, the soldier wore a belt and buckle diagonally over the his right shoulder down to his waist at the left holding a scabbard. Therefore, the strap and its buckle became important an element to the campaigning Roman army.

Through out the ages the strap and the faster became tools of war, peace and taming the wilderness. When the voyagers were portaging from stream to stream carrying packs laden with pelts while pulling their canoes along through the shallow water, the strap was there of course. Rough work and back breaking work to say the lest. Furs were in 90 pound bundles. If they couldn't be transported by canoe they were carried the men through the shallow waters. The standard load for a voyageur on a portage was two strapped bundles, or about 180 pounds. There are reports of some voyagers carrying more five or more bundles and legends of them carrying up to eight. A physically grueling lifestyle not nearly as glorious as folk tales make it out to be and there helping shoulder the load was the fearless the strap.

 Sometime in the age of automobiles, someone thought instead of carrying our canoes over our heads lets carry them over the tops of our Ford. It was revolutionary! No need to rent boat at the lake when we could take our own. Trip down river. Tie the canoe down in the truck bed and drop it off at the access. Boundary Waters, Grand Canyon, or the Allagash River. No trip was to big or small for our friend the strap. Since we began carrying our boats with our vehicles, much the gear has had some wholesale changes. Roof racks now come with saddles, rollers and load assist. Trailers equip outfitters haul numerous stacked boats everywhere. However new technology of boat transport, the strap has stayed the same. You can't change perfection. It's job has been, what it has always been. Hold it and secure it tightly.

We will either carefully tie down our kayaks or yank down on the strap binding them with all our might. We all do this while taking the strap for granted. We lend them, we toss them and never seem to have enough of them. At the access we will gently lay our canoes into the water while wadding up our straps into balls spaghetti throwing them into the back of the truck. We pay little concern as they become faded and frayed under the strain of our use. When loading up, one is always invariable left behind to another boater who doesn't have enough of them. Saying to us, "Use me till you lose me. I'll make the sacrifices to get you near the water. I know my time is short."

As you can see the strap is ageless wonder, however its only a matter of time before your helpful strap is either lost or worn out and left behind at the access dumpster. So I give this tribute to the strap. The guarding of our paddle sports world, forever embracing our wandering.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Stand Out Paddling & Under the Rainbow: Video Blog



This Outside Adventure to the Max comes with an all new video blog.  The accompanying story was first published September 19, 2014.

 I've lost count on how many times I have passed under Folsom's prominent Rainbow Bridge. The bridge is a historic landmark of the area. Built in 1917, the bridge crosses over the upper end of Lake Natoma and the American River. A 208 foot long concrete arch spans the rocky ledges of the canyon to help give the bridge it's fabled name. Photographed and painted time and time again the bridge is truly a magnificent sight. 
I can remember last year when it loomed before me as I paddled up the lake. Before I had moved to California, I had only seen it in pictures. As I paddled under it, I felt a thrill in pushing against the current and past the silent monument. It was my welcome to Californian kayaking.

It is routine now.  Lake Natoma is my home lake. I have kayaked it so much and so often that I could probably name the geese. Like all home lakes,  I still find it beautiful and fun to paddle around. I enjoy the quietness of its sloughs and the loftiness of its high banks. I love that the water is just minutes from my home. But that's where I have taken the lake for granted. I'm used to visiting it day after day.

Great days fade in to the next, when I'm out kayaking alone. Sure, I have soloing days that are special. But, the lasting and great memories come from paddling with my wife. I love to watch her glide across the water. As an artist, she delights in changing colors of sky and water while making paintings in her mind. She will frown and voice disgust when a loud radio vanquishes the peaceful solitude of the lake. This is her moment to enjoy what God has painted before her eyes.

I paddle behind trying to keep up, while she reveals to me the wonders of the water. This is the first place we kayaked together when I came to visit her before we were married. We had rented a bulky tandem sit on top and paddled together across the lake through the sloughs. It was a cool day and we had the lake to ourselves. We toured through the marsh enjoying the trees, birds and each others company. Now, every time I pass through those sloughs I remember that day. Every time. It will always be one of my best memories of lake. 

 Debbie and I shared a sunset paddle the other day. Nothing exemplary, we are heading into fall and the sun is setting faster each night. We had to race back now, before the sun slammed into the horizon. A fleeting golden reflection illuminated the water and silhouetted Debbie and her kayak. The rainbow bridge is close by beaming in the setting sun.

We will leave no lasting imprint. Water has no memory. However, sharing it with each other will always make each visit to the lake stand out.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Over The Bow: Pink Moon Paddle Video Blog Extra



Come along for this Outside Adventure to the Max's special journey for this video blog extra.
This weekend I took part in full moon paddle with the Sacramento Paddle Pushers on Lake Natoma near Folsom, California. The meet up group's posting called for a full "Pink" moon rising. In poetic fashion it says, "This Full Moon heralded the appearance of the pink moss, or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring flowers."
Calling this full moon "Pink" is a misnomer, because this weekend's "Pink" Full Moon isn't really pink. It will still have the yellowish-white complexion that it always does, that is until early Saturday morning's lunar eclipse, but I'll tell you more about that later.
It refers to the herb moss which grows abundantly in early spring. In Native American cultures, this full moon has many names such as, Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes its the Fish Moon, because this was the time of year that the shad swam upstream to spawn.
Our our ancient ancestors have always looked to the sky. They gave names to the Full Moons to keep track of the seasons. January's full moon is called the Wolf Moon. Because of the warming temperatures when earthworms begin to appear March's moon is the Worm Moon. While September's full moon is called the Corn Moon or Harvest Moon because its when corn was supposed to be harvested. These colorful names all in invoke a certain magic. The moon is our the closest heavenly body in our nighttime skies. For thousands of years we have used its light to guide us in the dark. What better way to sense its lunar allure than to watch the sun set into golden waters in the west and see the moon climb into the evening sky while kayaking.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Under the Glow of the Pink Moon


          Oh, I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
 Leapin and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow...Cat Stevens

This weekend I'm taking part in full moon paddle with the Sacramento Paddle Pushers. The meet up group's posting calls for a full "Pink" moon rising a little after 7 P.M. Pacific time. In poetic fashion it says, "This Full Moon heralded the appearance of the pink moss, or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring flowers."
Calling this full moon "Pink" is a misnomer, because this weekend's "Pink" Full Moon isn't really pink. It will still have the yellowish-white complexion that it always does, that is until early Saturday morning's lunar eclipse, but I'll tell you more about that later.
It refers to the herb moss which grows abundantly in early spring. In Native American cultures, this full moon has many names such as, Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes its the Fish Moon, because this was the time of year that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

However this weekend, a lunar eclipse will coincide with this year's Pink Moon turning it actually pink while passing through the shadow of the earth.  Plan on staying up very late to catch it. The west coast will have the best opportunity to view the eclipse beginning after 2 AM with the moon entering the umbra. Sky watchers will be treated to a nearly five-minute total lunar eclipse just before sunrise on Saturday. The moon will grow darker and then take on a reddish shade, before total eclipse at just before 5 AM. It will only last four minutes and 43 seconds, making it the shortest one of the century according to NASA.

Our our ancient ancestors have always looked to the sky. They gave names to the Full Moons to keep track of the seasons. January's full moon is called the Wolf Moon. Because of the warming temperatures when earthworms begin to appear March's moon is the Worm Moon. While September's full moon is called the Corn Moon or Harvest Moon because its when corn was supposed to be harvested. These colorful names all in invoke a certain magic. The moon is our the closest heavenly body in our nighttime skies. For thousands of years we have used its light to guide us in the dark. What better way to sense its lunar allure than to watch the sun set into golden waters in the west and see the moon climb into the evening sky while kayaking.

On one of my first moonlight paddles on Loon Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains the full moon overpowered the night sky. It was a giant gleaming ball hanging over the lake. It was hard to even see stars and even more difficult to spot the meteors we came out see. The moon was so bright, the party I was with joked about getting "moonburned" by it's rays. The water twinkled and glistened from the celestial glow. A sparkling single ray danced on the water to the silhouetted outline of the great pines pointing up toward the illumination of the sky.

A hush came over the transfixed boaters. Our voices had seemed to be bewitched and taken away in  total fascination. The moon has that kind of power. If it can control the tides of the sea, rending one speechless under it's luster is effortless to it. In the stillness of the lake, all of my senses were rekindled while gliding silently along, soaking in night's peaceful enchantment. All around me, I hear the gentle sound of lapping of the water against the bow. The air is fresh, damp and still. In each stroke of my paddle I pull it's coolness into my lungs. Looking down,  the water is engulfed in darkness below me, while across from the other kayakers are sharp shadows on the silver lining of the lake.

Basic paddling techniques and safety concerns should be considered before setting off on a moonlit  kayaking experience. Inland night navigation boating regulations vary from state to state. The  U.S. Coast Guard Rules requires canoe and kayaks to have proper lighting aboard to prevent collisions. A readily available hand-held flashlight or headlamp is the minimum requirement and should be sufficient on most waters restricted for only paddlers. For larger lakes shared with other boat traffic it's recommended to have a 360° light, available to turn on and display in any direction. Make sure to place the light out of your line of sight so your night vision is not impaired.

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

So check your calender for next full moon and bring that special someone for a romantic voyage or the whole family for moonlit kayak adventure.