Friday, December 23, 2016

CHRISTMAS FOR KAYAKERS


The usual calm waters of the American River just before in pours into Lake Natoma are a torrent this week as the outflows at Folsom Lake has more than doubled from 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 8,000 cfs according to officials at the Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region. This is a rare event in recent drought years to release water from Folsom Lake after last week's series of rain storms.
Another pre-Christmas storm with rain, wind and mountain snow will affect much of the western United States is forecast of the weekend. It will bring another dose of drought-denting rain and dump more snow onto the ski slopes.

video


The gift of the rain and snow will benefit us all by supplying our reservoirs with a steady supply of water for the year ahead, which is good news for area paddlers after a few lean years of drought. It's is what we at Outside Adventure to the Max are thankful for this holiday season. The gift of water in our area lakes, reservoirs and rivers. We like all of you hope it just keeps flowing in.

OAM would like to thank guest blogger Pete Delosa and Kate Hives for their insights and views this past year. They have certainly made OAM better by providing a different voice in the world of paddling. We certainly look forward to future post in the upcoming year.

We would also like to thank Dirt Bag Paddlers & DBP Magazine Online, The River Store. Bayside Adventure Sports and Rapid Magazine for sharing our post on their social media pages. They help us so much to spread the word about our weekly post.

Most of all, we'd like to thank our readers and follower who check us out every week. We hope you enjoy our thoughts and pictures about our outside experiences into 2017.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Outside Adventure to the Max.

Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 IN REVIEW: PICTURES OF THE YEAR

San Francisco Bay with Bayside Adventure Sports
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. -- Albert Schweitzer

I have to admit when it comes to kayaking, I could be classified more as a fanatic than just plain enthusiast. I think about paddling all the time day and night. I dream about my next trip on the river and visualize my last trip to the lake. I consider a day that I don't get out on to the water as almost a day lost.

Professional paddler and film maker Rush Sturges wrote on Facebook, "I go to sleep thinking about this river and I wake up excited to paddle it.  People ask me if I ever get bored?  And I never do at these levels. This is the first section of the Little White we call "Gettin Busy" at 4 feet today. It's fast, technical, and steep. But when you're in control of the flow, there's nothing better."

On Lake Tahoe with Cole Carlson
Lake Natoma with Taylor Carlson
I can picture myself in the same way. Anytime I cross any river bridge I look down wishing I was there.  Like Sturges pointed out, there is nothing better than being on the water. So as 2016 draws to a close,  I look back at some of my favorite places and people I had the good fortune of kayaking with this past year. My two sons who both came out to California for a visit this past summer. It was thrilling to take Cole on his first trip down the South Fork of the American River and both got to on an over-night trip to Lake Tahoe. Father and son camp-outs are always special no matter how old they are.

Any day on the water on with Dan Crandall, Kim Sprague, John Weed and the rest the gang at Current Adventures Kayaking School and Trips and The River Store, is always a great day. If it was just a job to them they would have quit it a longtime ago. But, it is their passion for kayaking that flows through them like an untamed river. They are deep in experience and share their thirst of paddling with first-timers and veterans with assurance, confidence and conviction. After paddling with them, you only have one question. When can we go again?

The Lower American River with Current Adventures.

And only to go again and again with Erik Allen, Brian Hughes and members of Bayside Adventure Sports. God created the Earth to RIDE IT. CLIMB IT. CATCH IT. EXPLORE IT. PROTECT IT. I'm hoping for some more trips like the one to Angel Island along with many day trips to some area lakes and rivers. 

But mostly I couldn't do any of kayaking without the support and encouragement from my wife Debbie. Always up for an adventure, she shares my same passion of being outside whether on the water, snow or trail.

Lake Jenkinson with Debbie Carlson
In Chasing Niagara,  a film directed by Sturges and produced by Red Bull that focused on Rafa Ortiz’s journey of being the first person ever to go over Niagara Falls in a kayak, Oritz offers this lesson. “I don’t really believe in regretting things, you know?” said Rafa Ortiz. “I believe in that anything that has happened in my life is for a reason and you know there is definitely things that have happened in my life that I would, you know, if I could I would think that I want to change but I think that anything that happens is for a reason and it just makes me who I am.”

Like Oritz, these experiences made me who I am. So as the year comes to a close, I look forward even more adventures on the water, in the years to come and wish you all the same.

The Lower American River with Bayside Adventure Sports

Eppies training on Lake Natoma
Eppies training
Kids Class with Current Adventures
Eppies Race Day
Barking Dog Rapid
The Rainbow Bridge
Lake Valley Reservoir
Loon Lake
Loon Lake with Current Adveentures
The Shoe Tree on the Lower American River
Sunset on Lake Natoma

Friday, December 9, 2016

SNOW & FLOW

Courtesy of Heavenly Mountain via Facebook
 What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness? --John Steinbeck

The snow industry and paddling industry are strapped together like kissing cousins. For the skiers, those glistening snowy covered mountains will supply a winter full on thrills and spills, while the paddlers looks for big flows once that snow begins to melt come spring and into summer.

"My board is waxed, paddle gear packed, and jeep loaded. Bring on the snow!" exclaimed Natalie Carpenter, " Precipitation is crucial, for both job security and free time. Nearly every activity I choose to participate in is driven by precipitation."

Natalie Carpenter

Carpenter is working at Colorado's Telluride Ski Resort this winter and has been raft guide on the American River in California during the past 4 summer seasons. She loves the benefits of a snowy winter.
"A good snow-pack not only means a winter full of steady work, but it also determines what my summer is going to look like." said Carpenter, "The whole reason I decided to move out to California this past summer was due to the fact that the snow-pack was good from the previous winter. Which led to high water and incredibly fun spring runs, something the American river hasn't been so lucky to see in a couple years. It was a full seven days of work a week for four whole months!"

As December got under way many area ski resorts opened with limited lifts, runs and terrain available after roughly 50 inches of snow fell in pre-Thanksgiving storm on the Sierra Crest near Lake Tahoe jump-starting ski and snowboard season in the mountains of Central and Northern California. Skiers are crossing their fingers for more this winter, while weather forecasters remain cautious taking a wait and see approach.

"This winter could go either way." said Sacramento Fox 40 meteorologist Darren Peck, "There is no way to come up with a good long-term prediction of this winter as is the case with most winters."
The Sierra's annual snow-pack functions as a reservoir of much of the state’s water supply and while last season’s El Nino did help push snowfall levels up to normal. it failed to deliver that knock out punch to end several years of drought across the state.

"Last year, seemed to be a snowy year," said Peck, "But it was average. Last year,  came pretty much spot on the mark for 100 percent of average. Northern Sierra was a little above, Southern Sierra a little below and right here in the Central Sierra we were at 98 percent. But, this where you get into the huge issue in the world of weather.  It seemed like a big year because of our perceptions and memories of things are very bias from what our personal and nostalgic memories are of winters past. But when you're looking at the statics last year was average."

Sage Donnelly and company didn't wait for spring. Photo by Peter Holcombe.

After these early fall storms, Carpenter remains hopeful more is on the way.
"I'm still checking the weather, snow reports, and river gauges daily. Gleefully watching inches accumulate and rivers rise." said Carpenter, "Even heading into this winter season an early snow fall allows me to take advantage of the rising rivers and continue my pursuit of more challenging whitewater. More snow equals more work, more terrain to explore, and ultimately a greater ability pursue my passions, all fueled by water."

It's still to early to tell where and how much snow will fall this winter but as a French proverb suggests,  A year of snow, a year of plenty. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Is Kayaking Really a Metaphor for Life?


BY OUTSIDE ADVENTURE TO THE MAX GUEST BLOGGER PETE DELOSA

2016 has been an interesting year in my life. If I’m being honest it has easily been the most difficult year of my life to date. I started the year off with big plans and high hopes and nearly none of it came to fruition. If there is one thing I am proud of this year it’s the progression in the two young shit runners I’ve been paddling with. These kids have a passion for the sport that is rarely seen. What’s even more impressive is the way they express what I call the right attitude toward the river. It’s really great to see the next generation of kayaker progressing. I could keep talking about them but by now you’re wondering what this has to do with the title and they might be reading this so I don’t want to say too many nice things about them.

Here is the connection to the metaphor mentioned in the title. The two above mentioned groms wanted to get on the Tiger Creek section of the Mokolumne earlier this year. I went and did a few runs a couple days before so I would have the lines fresh in my head to lead them down what was to be their first class IV run. Well as fate would have it on the day we went the water ended up being a little higher than even I had seen it before. (We had about 1600 cfs). We put on and had a really great run with great lines all around despite the apparent lack of eddies. When we got to the next to last rapid we got out to scout as planned. At this flow the last two bigger rapids really become one very long and sizable class IV rapid. As we’re standing on the rock looking at the biggest rapid they’ve run so far in their paddling careers one of them asks, “Do you think we can do this?” This is what I told them…

"Of course I think you can do it. If I didn’t think you could do it, we wouldn’t be standing here talking about it. However, I can’t get in your boat and do it for you. You have to make your own choice here. You have to decide to run it or to walk and whichever you decide you have to live with. If you decide to run it then it is up to you and you alone to get in your boat and execute the moves or suffer the consequences. I can give you advice but in the end it is entirely up to you to do it."

They both opted to run the rapid and they both styled the shit out of it. At the time there on the rock I just said what I thought was sound advice for kayaking. It wasn’t until we were driving home later that I started to think, maybe it’s also sound advice for life. Isn’t the same true? We all have troubles and trials of our own to deal with. We seek the advice of others close to us. We seek comfort and support, but at the end of the day we each have to make our own choices for ourselves. We then must also live with the outcome of those choices. Sometimes we sail off sweet boofs, and sometimes we take gnarly hole rides and nasty swims.

California based kayaker Pete Delosa is a member of Team Pyranha and sponsored by Immersion Research. You can catch up with Pete on his blog River-Bum.com and watch his videos on You-Tube

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

KAYAK TRANSIT


It's the time of year when my kayaks sits in the garage a lot more than on the water. I don't know why, but the end of daylight savings time always catches me by surprise as the grey skies of November are quickly dimmed and overpowered after the sun is slammed into the horizon. The sunset that months ago yielded a long summer glow has now turned into short lived firework that disappears into the blackness.

I'm not ready for the dark and find myself gazing at the water with every bridge across wishing to make kayaking could be part of my commute like Zach Schwitzky and Jessica Blat. These two urban boaters have decided not to wait till their next day-off to get some time on the water by having a kayak be their transit option. 
"It's probably the most relaxing part of my day," Schwitzky told ABC News.

Living in Hoboken, New Jersey, Schwitzky paddles across the Hudson River to Manhattan in around 20 minutes and escapes the use of the bus, ferry and train.

Photo by Ashley Middleton
"There's not a lot of places in New York City where you can truly be by yourself and not hear anything, not feel there's people around," Schwitzky told CNN, in recent interview, "The mornings are beautiful, especially at this time of year. If I leave early enough it's foggy and sort of looks like Gotham. You've got the sun rising and the city appearing through the fog. It's the perfect way to start the day."

Across the country in Seattle, Jessica Blat, commutes on the water, about three-quarters of a nautical mile a few days a week during the warmer months in her Oru foldable kayak that weighs 26 pounds
She takes a Car2Go or a bus to Terry Pettus Park in Eastlake. She unfolds her kayak, a process that takes 10 minutes, and paddles to Lake Union Park, about three blocks from her office.
“I find it really nice to come to work after I paddle. There’s no one on the lake in the mornings,” she Tole the Seattle Times. “It’s really calm and beautiful watching the sea planes take off. Everyone optimizes for a different thing, of course, when they are commuting. Most people I talk to are super jealous and wish they could do a kayak commute."

"It really is hassle-free. When I used to pull the kayak to the office, I'd get some looks from people wondering what a guy was doing pulling a 12'+ boat through the streets of Manhattan," The entrepreneur now stores his canoe at the Marina.
"Generally I don't get wet, so I can make do with the same clothes [to wear to work]. Some days I'll bring a change of clothes in the waterproof bag that straps to the back of the kayak. Outside of ice in the river, I'll make the commute, a bit of rain or wind doesn't stop me," said Schwitzky. "It's great to be outdoors, we say half-jokingly it's sort of New York City's version of nature, peace and quiet. Then as sort of a cherry on top, there's no carbon footprint."

It's also a way to score a little more time on the water as we approach the winter months. As musician Henry Rollins said, "I have come to regard November as the older, harder man's October. I appreciate the early darkness and cooler temperatures. It puts my mind in a different place than October. It is a month for a quieter, slightly more subdued celebration of summer's death as winter tightens its grip."


Green Friday
The California state parks department and two San Francisco environmental groups, Save the Redwoods League and the California State Parks Foundation, will provide 13,000 free vehicle day-use passes that the public can use on Friday, Nov. 25. The passes will cover day-use admission and parking fees without charge to 116 of California’s 280 state parks. For a full list of the participating state parks and to reserve and print out passes, go to www.greenfriday.org.
Last year, six states besides California also held free Black Friday programs for their state parks systems: Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Minnesota, Missouri and Delaware.
Backers of the California program are hoping visitors post images on social media with the hashtag #GreenFriday or #CAStateParks.

Friday, November 11, 2016

OVER THE BOW: SOUTH FORK OF THE AMERICAN RIVER

Photo by Scott Blankenfeld
By Outside Adventure Guest Blogger Scott Blankenfeld 

This photo gained a lot of attention during the 2015 summer rafting season. This full dump (everybody out, including the guide and boat stays upright) happened as the raft came came off of Rhino Rock, about midway through Meat Grinder, a rapid on the South Fork American River. Normally, this location provides a back lit sequence of photos offering a few splashes and views downward into the boat showing everyone’s faces surrounded by masses of whitewater. These sequences are usually a non-dramatic crowd pleaser. Not this day!

Every once in a while, a raft will get pushed into a small eddy just above Rhino Rock, named for it’s rhino-horn-like shape. It’s tricky, because there is another rock just underwater in the middle of the eddy making it difficult to maneuver the raft so as to leave the eddy safely. In this case, the raft was pressed up on Rhino Rock by the main current. The guide moved the crew to the high side of the boat to keep the upstream tube from sinking and wrapping the boat around the rock. This was a great idea until the boat started to slide off of the the rock. With the downstream tube now fully loaded, the boat did the opposite of what was expected and did a tube stand towards the rock, offering up one of the best photo sequences of my season.

Scott Blankenfled photographs California whitewater rafting during the season following the action on the North, Middle and South Forks of the American River. He also helps companies produce and manage their digital/print content and web presence. You can follow Blankenfled and check out more of his images at www.scottblankenfeld.com.

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, submit it to us at nickayak@gmail.com

Friday, November 4, 2016

Yearly Cycles – Give Yourself Permission


          We all change colours and lose our leaves, then we bloom again.   
          --Maria Lago

By Outside Adventure to the Max Guest Blogger Kate Hives

Well, the busy summer season is over. I have been in my rubber boots these days, but rather than tromping through sand, I have been tromping through fallen leaves. I have been watching mushrooms sprout in the green forests and breathing the sweet air laced with the smell of decaying leaves.

(Don’t worry, I will be surfing and kayaking all winter, but let’s be serious…it won’t be as busy as the summer!!!)

I love the fall – The colours, the smells, the swells, the cold air and jumping in piles of carefully raked leaves. There are also the feelings that so often accompany this time of year. It is some set of indescribable afflictions that go along with dealing with the unknown and transitioning from one way of being to another. I notice them in myself and in the people around me. I have lived a seasonal lifestyle for so long now, that I am able to recognize the changes in my own cycles as they correspond to each season. Fall is a time of change, leaves die and begin to decay. The trees shake off the productivity of the summer and prepare for the long cold winter months ahead. The change of pace, from working sun-up to beyond sun-down as a wilderness guide, to having entire days that are waiting to be explored and lazed about in, can be a bit startling. I know that sometimes I find it quite unnerving.


But…The beautiful part about this feeling, is I have had it at this time, every year for as long as I can remember. The unsettled, unsure wave of anxiety that I have as I transition from summer into winter is a regular visitor. Like clockwork this feeling creeps up as the last trips of the summer run to a close. Equally, I have learned that this state of not knowing is often (if not always) followed by some amazing opportunity that has the capacity to surprise and somehow always brings me exactly what I need! How do you think I ended up in the circus!?!

Living in the wilderness and on beaches has highlighted many things for me, but most importantly it has shown me that there are patterns and cycles in the natural world – and in turn, patterns in my own way of being and feeling throughout the year. Fall is a time of storing up energy, of letting go, of rooting down and of slowing the pace. So when I catch myself getting upset because I spent the whole day at my home, puttering about in the garden, in my sweatpants…I remind myself that productivity and busyness has its place, but so does slowness and spending time as a hermit.

Kate Hives is an adventurous sea kayaking guide and rough water coach with SKILS  based out of Vancouver Island.  She has explored Canada from coast to coast and has paddled in Patagonia, Chile, Malaysia, Tasmania, North Wales and Scotland. Keep up with Hives in her blog At home on the water.  Outside Adventure to the Max is always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at Nickayak@gmail.com if you are interested.

Friday, October 28, 2016

MAP MONSTERS


One of the classic images of a sea monster on a map: a giant sea-serpent attacks a ship off the coast of Norway on Olaus Magnus’s Carta marina of 1539, this image from the 1572 edition. Credit: National Library of Sweden
     
Always remember, it's simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren't dragons ---Sarah Ban Breathnach
It's no secret that kayakers love maps. Any maps measuring the distance from place to place. Looking at the roads and trails following meandering blue river lines and rocky shores. We can stare at those National Geographic and Tom Harrison maps for hours while planning our next expedition. We like the way they feel in ours hands. Their waterproof, tear-resistant paper with detailed topographic information, clearly marked trails, recreational points of interest, and navigational aids lead to our path.
Now in the world of Google Maps, smart phones and GPS, where paper maps are a bit old-fashion,  the unknown is unnerving and the ocean can be downright scary place. But go back a few centuries,  where old world maps and atlases of once-uncharted territories are crammed full of undiscovered and mysterious lands and most frighting of all sea monsters. 

 “A lot of it was just purely unknown. The same way we imagine aliens in outer space, they thought there was something crazy with lots of legs and eyes waiting to eat them,” said Dory Klein, of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center in the Boston Public Library, in interview with National Public Radio “In the Medieval and Renaissance period in Europe, people didn't really know what was out there. So your corpus of knowledge came from folklore and the Bible. And so in that world, monsters could very well be real and they were just part of this supernatural landscape."


Each week,  Klein, the center’s education and outreach assistant, picks out  a map from the 16th or 17th centuries and then highlights the strange and mysterious beasts that adorn the top corners and oceans of the maps on Instagram and Twitter, calling it “Map Monster Mondays. The map center, a non-profit organization established by the library and philanthropist Norman Leventhal, has a collection of more than 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases.

Klein says that those mapmakers let their imaginations run wild with fantastical creatures appearing in a variety of forms like sea-pigs, sea-bears, sea-elephants and seahorses in the common belief that  every land creature had a sea equivalent. Some resemble amusing figures like from the Muppets or Dr. Seuss,  such as the “hippocampus,” a mythical beast that has the upper body of a horse, and the lower body of a fish, while others like image of mustachioed, polka-dotted cat-monster” standing opposite a dragon holding a human hand between its sharp teeth are much scarier. These monstrous creatures suggest a world full of dangers lurking in the ocean deep.

"It was a jolting reminder," said Klein, "That all of the monsters that you see embedded in these maps really were genuinely scary to the people who are looking at them.”

J.R.R. Tolkien said, "Never laugh at live dragons.” I'm sure that could be said for sharks and whales too. Several kayakers around the world have had close encounters with marine life in the past year, living up to Medieval map illustrations.

Australian Ian Watkins estimated that a shark about 16-foot long, barged into his kayak while paddling off the country's west coast.
"This wave was coming behind me and I thought 'what the heck's that', and then I looked on and there's this massive fin, and I thought 'that's a serious shark'," he told ABC News, "Then he kept circling me, it went from the right under the kayak, then from the left under the kayak …when it was coming under it was just really white it was massive and I thought 'holy … bloody hell"

While a video clip went viral last year of the two Brits narrowly escaping death and injury when a 40-ton humpback whale crash-landed on their kayak off Monterey Bay in California. "It was above us and all I could see was this whale crashing towards us, blocking out the light," Tom Mustill told The Telegraph, "I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to die now. "The terrifying incident was captured on video by a passenger on a nearby whale-watching boat. Remarkably, the everyone was left uninjured.

"Yes, it happens." wrote Athena Holtey in TopKayaker.Net, "Kayaks are bumped, chased, circled, punctured; Shark teeth are pried out of hulls, out of cheeks, and faced off with paddle braces. This is the stuff entertaining forum banter is made of; but often the question remains definitively unanswered. The results are kayakers lacking the confidence to launch into the unknown wilderness they so want to embrace."

Other sighting of modern day sea monsters are far more mysterious and now part of the local folklore. The Loch Ness Monster also known as Nessie is one of the most famous lake monsters in history. Believers and cryptozoologists say that the creature represents a line of long-surviving dinosaurs while the most of the scientific community regards the Nessie as a tall-tale without any biological evidence.They say the sightings are hoaxes, misidentification of other objects or wishful thinking.
Others include Lake Champlain's Champ Echolocation, Pennsylvania's Raystown Lake's Ray and Pepie a sea serpent that is said to inhabit the waters of Lake Pepin on Minnesota Wisconsin border. These lake monster tropes have evaded our detection while much like the creatures on the Medieval maps, they have captured our wonder and imaginations.

Of course sea monsters on maps mostly disappeared as navigational and printing technology improved. Portrayals of whales and other map creatures became more realistic during the early 17th century.
“It was easier to convey more accurate information," Klein said, "So you might see pirate ships as an indication of, ‘There are dangerous pirates here’ or, 'These are good fishing waters, 'You’ll find whales here,’ but it wasn't an immediate disappearance [for the monsters]. It was more of a fading out.”

Friday, October 21, 2016

OVER THE BOW: THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

Photo by Tom Gomes
Channel Islands National Park are known for their phenomenal beautyl and rugged coastline. Under the protection of US parks service, the five islands and their ocean environments are isolation from the mainland offering a home to unique animals, plants, and geological treasures that can't be anywhere else on the planet. For Sacramento based sea kayaker and photographer Tom Gomes,  the trip to the islands were opportunity to experience and photograph this diverse and incredible national resource.
At nearly a 100 square miles in size, Santa Cruz Island is the largest national park's islands, located off the coast of Southern California. It has three mountain ranges, with its highest peak rising over 2,000 feet above the island. Canyons and streams fill its central valley, while its 77 miles of craggy coastline cliffs  are permeated with giant sea caves, pristine tide pools and expansive beaches that are beckoned to be explored by island visitors. Large colonies of nesting sea birds and different types of animals, including breeding seals and sea lions can be found on the island. During summer there is also a chance to see Blue or Humpback Whales in the deep water off the island's shore.

Access to the island is limited to a ferry or private boat. Island Packers Cruises is the longtime transportation company between the mainland and the five Channel Islands. Their ferries leave from  ports in Ventura Harbor and Santa Barbara.

"This year was unique," said Gomes, "Because the normal loading dock on Santa Cruz Island was condemned after a major storm last year,  it will have to be rebuilt. So, Island Packers Ferry in Ventura loaded our kayaks and takes us to Scorpion Harbor, about a one hour ferry ride. The ferry then anchors about 200 yards from shore and transferred us to small skiffs, about six at a time, ) to take us to shore. Our group of nine then grabbed our kayaks as they were being brought ashore by Island Packers."

They secured and stored their kayaks about 30 yards from the landing and afterwards off loaded their sea bags of supplies and camping gear.

"We had three bags weighing about 35 pounds each," said Gomes,  "We then hauled everything to the campgrounds, except our kayaks, about 1/3 mile and no carts or wheels were allowed."

Gomes and his group from Sacramento Sea Kayaker's enjoyed a five day of camping, kayaking and hiking expedition to the national park last month. Check out more Gomes' stunning kayaking and outdoor images on his Facebook page.

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, submit it to us at nickayak@gmail.com

Friday, October 14, 2016

SOLO & ACCOMPANIMENT


“When you’re traveling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.” — Shauna Niequist

It's a romantic notion. Man versus nature. A single kayaker confronting the odds alone against the unforgiving sea or fierceness river.  As Rudyard Kipling wrote "He travels the fastest who travels alone." Solo kayaking trip has all the elements of a classic tale with mythical bravery, hardship and solitude.

"You do miss people a bit but I‘m reasonably comfortable with my own company." Jason Beachcroft told Australian Geographic Outdoor  "The longest time without seeing even a fisherman was six days. When I did the solo traverse of the Alps I went 12 days without seeing anyone."
Adventurer Beachcroft last month become the first adventurer to kayak around Australia, including the Tasmania into his route. He took only limited electronic gear and depended on compass, maps as well as GPS for back up. He accomplished two crossings of Bass Straight and paddled into Sydney Harbour's Rose Bay,  after 17-months and 18, 000 kilometers around the continent.
"You need to interpret with what you’re actually seeing and balance your fatigue level and skill." said Beachcroft,  "On a certain day I might plan to paddle from one bay to another and then look at the conditions and shelter. But I may change my plans, even from paddling to not paddling."

You don't have to circumnavigate Australia for solo paddling to make you feel heroic or have a life affirming moment. Sea kayaker and blogger Kate Hives wrote,  "My intention to paddle alone did not stem from a desire to be bold or to do something no one had ever done. I wanted to see what kind of decisions I might make, how I would cope with the lonely days on my own. I wanted to crawl out of my comfort zone and use it as a time for reflection."
Kate Hives_North Wales Solo Trip_2016 (1 of 1)-2.jpg
Kate Hives
The Vancouver Island based Hives wrote about her experiences in her blog At home on the water while paddling alone off the coast of North Wales last winter. She shared that as she ran into highly changeable weather conditions, she was met by fear and uncertainty and had to developed courage from within to overcome those fears."Normally the sea conditions would not have caused me to worry," wrote Hives, "But as the front closed in, the seas got bigger and bigger, the wind stronger and more powerful. It became a mind game of convincing myself that it wouldn’t get any worse.  I put my fear in a box, thanked it for keeping me safe, and tucked it away in my mind to make room for focus. All my senses were heightened..."

 An African proverb concluded,  "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."  So while many love the solitude of the solo paddle, most people like to make it a social activity by bringing friends and family along with them to share their experience. Paddlers say, that by kayaking together they can build stronger relationships between loved ones and enhanced their friendships with other boaters..


"I think there's safety in numbers when you paddle as a group." said Sacramento Paddle Pushers, founder Lynn Halsted,  "You can bounce ideas off each other, try out a new kayak or paddle, or event talk about carpooling to the next trip.  I've learned from watching others and I'm sure this has been true of other paddlers who learn from me."

Halsted started SPP, an online paddling meet up group six years ago in October 2010 with no ideas of what to expect. It quickly grew with the popularity of kayaking. The group now has close to 500 members presently with a solid core of 60 paddlers actively taking part.  Having fun on the water together is always a priority for the group, as it  plans and undertakes extensive paddling trips through out Northern California and elsewhere.
"I honestly have never paddled solo." said Halsted,  "At least I've not launched and started out solo intentionally.  There have been occasions where I'm in the lead or a sweep who is far enough away from the rest of the group, to consider myself solo."

Lynn Halsted

She admits there are some drawbacks to paddling with groups while trying detox away from the daily rush, while spending time in the serenity of nature.
"The talking!' said Halsted,  "I prefer to paddle in mostly silence so I can become close to nature and enjoy the wildlife. So, paddling ahead or hanging back is a great way to obtain silence, while still remaining with the group. This allows me to take pictures of both our paddlers and wildlife."

 "There is nothing like paddling out with good friends to enjoy the day together," Hives agreed,  "It can certainly feels easier to motivate yourself to get out and paddle when there are others to go with. But making the decision to go out on your own draws focus towards the center of your passion. It highlights your strengths and weaknesses in a very real and immediate way." Heading out solo offers a unique opportunity to practice the courage to know you can do it and the humility to know when not to go. It is an exercise in self awareness and self discipline."


For both for them, kayaking whether alone or in a group, is about simply being out there and embracing that amazing adrenaline rush or celebrating those mindful moments on the water.
"Heading out solo, " said Hives, "Offers a unique opportunity to practice the courage to know you can do it and the humility to know when not to go. It is an exercise in self awareness and self discipline."
"The great advantage to being in front (of the group) by yourself," added Halsted, "Is you get the perfect reflections off the water in front of you.  There's nothing like being the first to cut through glass like water.

Friday, October 7, 2016

HIYACKING


"My ears were saluted with the agreeable sound of a fall of water and advancing a little further I saw the spray arise above the plain like a column of smoke which would frequently disappear again in an instant." Meriwether Lewis, June 13 1805

It was one of the those clear skied early autumn days still being on the border of summer. Hot enough that a parade of rafters were still coming through the trees and down the bank to the water. Armed with suntan lotion, coolers and whatever that they have that can float, the army of rafters were heading down river with the flow. It's a popular activity along the American River Parkway in Sacramento throughout the summer. The Lower American River provides a cool and relaxing way to escape the heat during the summer months along its urban waterway. Rafts and inter tubes are a common sight at the Sunrise Access all the way down to River Bend Park.
As I slid my kayak between a few rafts, I get the usual question.
"How far down are you going?" one asked.
"Not going down river today," I reply, "I'm going to paddle upstream a couple of miles."

It was relatively easy paddle when I leaned to paddle my way up the meandering Red River.  It twisted and turned along the North Dakota and Minnesota border. When the river turned, it forms a bend. The strongest current will usually be found on the outside of that curve. By staying to the inside of river, I found the slowest flow of water. There the gradient dropped in inches per mile. I could travel miles upstream with ease before turning around to go with its northern flow.

In the foothills of California, when there is water, it comes cascading down the canyons only to be captured by reservoirs and frugally drained into its rivers like the Lower American on its way to the sea. There is a constant push to stay moving or risk losing ground.

In the past couple of weeks,  I have been taking trips up some California rivers and then back down again. For me,  it's always challenging way for me to spend some time on the river without the bother of having to a shuttle. I ascended the waterway much like climbing up an assemblage of stairs. I'd crisscrossed the river's surface while paddling upstream, staying its inside, feeling the water pushing my boat backwards. Rapids or fast water are hurdles along the way, however just above them are gentle pools to explore.

Scientists say that the sound of running water motivates the beaver to build. Something in the noise the churning water tells them to construct a dam. For them it's the sound to make progress. For me it's the call to "Hikayak" My paddling partner Carly Mariani's invented the term, a combination of hiking and kayaking, when I took her on several mile trip up the North Fork of the American River.  I'm sure she expected a simple cruise, but ended up ascending much of the river by foot, before getting a fun trip back down.

At the narrowest point of the rapid,  I locked my boat against the eddies, a relative calm where the main current flows reverse,  I climbed out of my kayak and push it through the fast water or leaning forward into the stream, I lash a bow line to the boat and waded through the water pulling my kayak behind me. It's a rocky trek through the fast-moving stream to the pool above. Water shoes are a must. Footing was uneven and slippery.

It's the drive to see what is around the next bend and the anticipation of not knowing what I will see. Above the rapids, there are placid pools of scenic beauty between the next set of rushing water. There the river spreads out in spaces as I circled around the shore and find a hidden cove of backwater. There the beavers had been busy working. Green and lush, it's a quiet little world to tour and reward of getting there before heading back to ride the bouncy rapids back.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Keep Calm and Paddle On: How to Keep a Less Than Ideal Situation From Becoming a Really Bad One

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 10.04.58 PM

Outside Adventure to the Max guest blogger Pete Delosa

Whitewater kayaking might be the best thing on Earth, at least for me anyway. If you read what I wrote here then I’d guess there’s a better than average chance that you like kayaking at least a little bit too. If you’ve ever spent a day in a kayak then you’ve probably noticed that in kayaking, as in life, things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes we have to abandon play A and move to plan B, C, D, E…

When things start to go less than ideal, how can we make sure that they don’t make it all the way to really bad? I have a couple of ideas on this that you may or may not find helpful. The first and I think most important thing is to stay calm. I know it’s often easier said than done but trust me it helps. When we’re calm we can look around and take in information. Our brain can then use that information to evaluate our situation and make informed decisions. Sounds weird, right? Believe it or not when we start to panic we get twitchy and spastic. We start to cling on to the first idea that we see which isn’t always the best. It’s pretty easy in our frantic state to actually make our situation worse. Often times a better escape route is right in front of us. We just need to relax long enough to see it. I know I know, it’s really hard to stay calm when you think you’re about to drown. Just try to start practicing. Start by reminding yourself afterwards you need to be calmer in the future. Then eventually that will turn into reminding yourself to calm down mid incident. With even more practice you’ll stay calm right from the start. This works both when you are the victim and the rescuer by the way.


The other piece of advice I find myself sharing with people, often on the side of the river after a rescue, is to stay out of the water. Let me clarify. If you or a friend becomes a swimmer in the river, especially on class III and up water, once you are on shore you need to STAY THERE. When the swimmer is out of the water they are for the time being safe. They should not go back in the water, period. Now I know what you’re thinking, “what if we can’t get them back to their boat?” Situations may dictate that the swimmer needs to go back in the water. If so, fine. I’m just saying make sure, absolutely sure, that there really is no other option before you put someone back into the water.
There’s my two cents on minimizing carnage. Do with it what you will. Thanks for reading.

 You can catch up with Pete on his blog River-Bum.com and his videos on You-Tube
Outside Adventure to the Max is always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at Nickayak@gmail.com if you are interested.

Friday, September 23, 2016

KAYAK SUMMER 2016


        When autumn dulls the summer skies, And paler sunshine softly lies --V.O. 
        Wallingford 

As summer comes to an end, I always look back on those long warm days and even nights on the water. Each day. Each and every one them was an unique adventure and experience for me. Kayaking towards a horizon of mountains on the reservoirs and lakes of the western Sierra or reading the river's flow and picking a good line whether going up or down stream. So when people ask me, which I prefer, the smooth and calm of the lakes or the swift or gentle flow of the river?  My answer of course is...well, both. For me it would be like picking a favorite child.

Lake Natoma with Current Adventures

Yes, the call to the lake is forever powerful. As American writer and conservationist Henry David Thoreau said, "Lakes are something which you are unprepared for; they lie up so high, exposed to the light, and the forest is diminished to a fine fringe on their edges...So anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be.""

South Fork of the American River

But, who can resist the pull of the river?
"Rivers are magnets for the imagination," said author Time Palmer,  "For conscious pondering and subconscious dreams, thrills, fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers' reflections of our lives and experiences are endless." 

Lake Jenkinson
This past summer I paddled out on both lakes and rivers as often as could with my wife Debbie, my son Taylor or the gang at Current Adventures Kayak School & Trips.  So either,  a lake or a river it was an adventure in fun and friendship that keep my memories of summer burning bright.  Here are a few of my favorite images from this summer kayaking.
Lake Tahoe with Bayside Adventure Sports
Lake Clementine
Moonlight paddle on Lake Natoma
Lake Natoma
North Fork of the American River
Eppies Great Race
Loon Lake
End of Summer at Lake Jenkinson