Friday, October 20, 2017


I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere in the autumn, as if the earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints. ---Henry David Thoreau

It was what I call a Thoreau type morning. A chill in the air, colors blazing and the lake water was as smooth as glass on a calm October morning. At the water's edge a thin line between the absoluteness of the shoreline and its upside down illusory reflection. It seemed as I was destroying a cherished work of art as the bow of my kayak fractured the water's surface sending it into a thousand splinters with each ripple with each forward stroke. In was the distance the slight hum of traffic a reminder of frenzied away from this solitude, ahead the quiet and nostalgic feel of autumn's embrace.

Maplewood State Park.
“A lake is a landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature." wrote American writer and conservationist Henry David Thoreau, "It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”
In 1845, he set out to live a simple and solitary life on the banks of Walden Pond near Concord, Mass. It was there that he would write his best-known works, Walden and Civil Disobedience in penciled scribbled notes giving meditative descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells and things around him. The woods and lakes seem to inspire and invigorate him.

Later in life, he would celebrate the seasonal change of fall and the continuing cycle of nature by welcoming it by and giving us a way to see every autumn. "Visible for miles, too fair to be believed," he proclaimed, "If such a phenomenon occurred but once, it would be handed down by tradition to posterity, and get into the mythology at last.”

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
The appearance of autumn doesn’t call for the disappearance of kayaks or standup paddle boards. Fall and wintertime waters offer a quieter and solitude experience. Who doesn't appreciate fewer bugs, crowds and empty parking spots at the access. Just remember simple safety factors involving hypothermia.Even water temperatures as high as 75 and 80 degrees F (24 and 27 degrees C) can be dangerous, but generally the colder the water, the faster it happens.

Four simple tips for anyone looking to extend the length of their paddling season into the winter months.
  1. Wear your PFD!
  2. Layering up against the cold.
  3. Familiarize yourself With rescue techniques
  4. Be well fed and hydrated when paddling.

"October is the month of painted leaves." wrote Thoreau, "Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight."

It all proves paddling in the fall might take a little more planning and preparation, but the season's beauty and splendor make it all worth it.

Celebrate Sixty
Our friend, Dan Crandall at Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips, a veteran of countless trips down the Grand Canyon is turning 60-years-old in 2018 and wants you to come along for the party.

Courtesy of Current Adventures.
"Dear friends and fellow paddlers," wrote Crandall on the Current Adventures website, "I wanted to extend this special invite to join me on our 2018 trip because I will be 60 years old in 2018 and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather "Celebrate Sixty" than paddling the fabulous Grand Canyon. The people that join together for a trip like this are the ones who really make it special, so come on along to surf some great waves, run the fabulously thrilling rapids, hike some amazing trails and help make it an extraordinary experience in one of my favorite places on the planet!"

Join Crandall and his experienced guides from Current Adventures and Grand Canyon outfitter partner AZRA on August 29-September 11th, 2018 ( 14 days) as they deliver you to the unequaled splendor and solitude of one of the worlds greatest treasures.

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
owner Dan Crandall

Friday, October 13, 2017


Photos provided by Nigel Foster

By Outside Adventure to the Max Guest Blogger Nigel Foster

My mantra is to achieve the greatest effect with the minimum effort. I find efficiency seductive but to best achieve this I need to start again with the basics. Efficient paddling makes use of the body’s most powerful muscle groups to do the bulk of the work powering the kayak, with good posture ensuring the most effective alignment for performance.
I also try to maximize the traction from my paddle in the water so I can power forward or make smooth turns without wasting energy. I want to make my kayak move forward; I don’t want to use my energy to move water.

Edging in a turn, the blade here is in neutral
Edging into a turn. The blade here is in neutral Science can explain how a kayak moves through water, why it might turn more easily when held at a particular angle or why different turns can be more effective when you lean forward or back. It’s not like rocket science, where you need a huge thrust of energy to push you into space, and complex mathematical equations to navigate to a far off planet. Instead it’s about things like understanding how when you shift your weight a little to trim your kayak, it subtly changes the effective hull shape in the water. Some maneuvers become more efficient with this alternative hull presentation, so you need less power to make the same maneuver. You can fine-tune your skills more effectively if you not only know how to do it but also why.

Basic science can explain why in some kayaks it doesn’t seem to make any difference whether you edge into a turn or edge away from it, both seem equally effective, while in some other kayaks you can clearly turn more quickly when edged into a turn, or in others most quickly when edged from a turn.
It will also explain why you can turn some kayaks more rapidly while reversing than when you are paddling forward.
It’s a good idea to hone the effectiveness of your paddling skills on flat water where you can focus on mastering the details even if your normal playground is far from flat. It is easier to compare the effect of every nuance once you eliminate the variables of wind, current and waves. With control strokes, begin with the blade close to or in a neutral position, engaging the blade gradually and only as much as you need.

The blade is lightly engaged for steering
After paying attention to the details, the next phase is to add those variables, wind, waves and current one at a time, so you can see how each affects the moves you have practiced on the flat. Practice in wind without waves for example. Now you’ll see how one technique for turning will become far more effective for turning from the wind than another that works best for turning toward the wind.
When you understand how to get the most effective performance from your kayak in wind alone, or in waves or current alone, then the next step is to combine them, wind and waves together, or all three.

Work on your efficiency in different conditions
Your paddling can become smooth, efficient and effective without you understanding the science behind it. You can still become an artist on the water. But if you question why one move works better than another in a particular situation and understand the reasons behind each effect, then you’ll be able to push your skills into new realms of efficiency. You’ll use the wind, current and waves to your advantage instead of fighting against them.

I’ll leave you with three questions. Revisit one of them when you next paddle.

1) Can I improve the efficiency of my body movement for power? For example, can I use my torso more and my arms less? Am I using my legs and feet?

2) How much do I move water with my paddle, and when do I do this most? Can I reduce this, maybe by slowing my paddle stroke a little, or by adjusting the path of my paddle?

3) Am I working against the waves, wind, and current, or working with? If I can identify a particular situation when I have to work harder than I would like, can I find a way to use less effort in this situation?

My new book The Art of Kayaking offers a lot of detail for the inquisitive paddler, explained in a way that is easy to understand. It describes in detail the basic paddle and kayak skills, and then focuses their use toward different rough-water environments. The goal is to achieve more effect with less effort. You’ll also find help for trip planning with weather, charts, buoy age and safety.

Find The Art of Kayaking at, (there is a signed copy option) Or support your local bookstore, or order on-line, perhaps at Amazon or Book Depository.

Nigel Foster is an English sea kayaker, kayak designer, instructor and author.  His other books with FalconGuides include On Polar Tides, and Paddling Southern Florida. Foster presently lives in Seattle, WA with his wife Kristin Nelson. You can contact him through his web-site at

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

Friday, September 29, 2017


Many a time I have merely closed my eyes at the end of yet another trouble some day and soaked my bruised psyche in wild water, rivers remembered and rivers imagined. Rivers course through my dreams, rivers cold and fast, rivers well known and rivers nameless, rivers that seem like ribbons of blue water twisting through wide valleys, narrow rivers folded in layers of darkening shadows, rivers that have eroded down deep into the mountain's belly, sculpted the land, peeled back the planet's history exposing the texture of time itself. --- Harry Middleton

Loading up at other places that people find easier to get to. I sometimes get into conversations with boaters about the where they like to paddle around  Sacramento.
"Have you ever been up to Rattlesnake Bar?" I'll ask them.
The answer is usually either bewilderment or not for a long time as they think of the last time they were up there.

Rattlesnake Bar is part of the California State Parks Folsom Lake Recreation Area. Located on the on the north arm of the lake, it's down a long dead-end road after the fork winding past white fences and horse barns towards the entrance of the park.

The lake glistens, flashing through the oaks and willows while driving down the narrow road after entering the park. During the drought years not too far back, it looked more like Mars seeing the dusty remnants of the lake. But, this year the lake is brimming. The lake is 50 feet higher than last year. Going into the last week of September, many recreation lakes in California have the highest lake levels for this date in more than 10 years.

Forget weekends. Come to Rattlesnake Bar mid-week in the summer or wait till late fall or early spring to escape the speed boat and jet ski crowd. This is a playground for them all summer long when the lake is full and gate to the ramp is open.

The water was still touching the end of the ramp on my last visit. In previous trips, I can remember some lengthy treks while shouldering my kayak down the ramp or along an arduous trail down a steep bank to the lake. The guidebooks said to watch for rattlesnakes, hence the name, but, it should've of warned me about that thick layer of muck and slimy goo in front of the lake.

The water was a silty brown turned up by waves of jet skis and speed boats. It resembles more a choppy over perked coffee and cream color even past the 5 mph buoy about a mile north of the access. Those with a need for speed turn around and head back to the main part of the lake while those in search of the quiet of the lake, canyon and river, proceed on.

Past Mormon Ravine the lake widens and turns to the northeast. On the north side, the old Pony Express Trail is now a hiking path along the lake. Further up the lake narrows with rugged rocky ledges on both sides. I don't feel the tug of current on this visit, but I have before. It's common through here, for the lake to behave more like a river as the water level dictates where the river ends and the lake begins. There is a sudden change of water temperature and clarity as the cool mountain North Fork of the American River pours into the lake. It was now a refreshing cold and running transparently clear.

"I have never seen a river that I could not love," wrote Canadian writer and conservationist Roderick Haig-Brown, "Moving water...has a fascinating vitality. It has power and grace and associations. It has a thousand colors and a thousand shapes, yet it follows laws so definite that the tiniest streamlet is an exact replica of a great river."

When I started kayaking, I dreamed of these river places Haig-Brown called "Water in its loveliest form." A clear water passageway between massive ramparts of broken disheveled texture, as the once molten rock now crystallized over millions of years is exposed, lifted and shattered along the fault lines while large boulders have become their own islands raising from the depths.

The stream,  flecked with little white waves and quiet inviting pools, while just around the bend there is the sound of the thundering water echoing off the chasm walls and the sight of a churning cascade, what naturalist John Craighead called, "A primeval summons to primordial values."

I have paddle upstream here before, even portaged through shallow rapids to the river's slow moving pools. On this trip however, the lake covers those rapids and the low water landmarks I'm familiar with going to north past Pilot Creek.  At Oregon Bar Rapids, there is no need to go any further on this outing,  as the rushing water turns me back downstream.

Above Pilot Creek I found a nice flat rock and water warmed by the sun. I beached my kayak and surveyed my river surroundings. Up river, I could see the foam of whitewater while down downstream the rugged curve of the canyon suffused amber light of the late afternoon sun. I spent a good chunk of time there becoming a kid again. Diving off rocks, swimming between dives and exploring the view of the canyon.

 Light and shadows dance across the water as the sun slips behind the horizon on my paddle back to Rattlesnake Bar. The hills and trees obscurity is offset by the warm glow of the water. My senses are awakened by the stillness and coolness of the air as I glided silently and almost effortlessly across the placid lake of golden glass.

"We do not want merely to see beauty, " said writer C.S. Lewis, "We want something else which can hardly be put into words to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it."

 And with each stroke of my paddle, I soaked in all the lake's and river's tranquil magic.

Lake Clementine Update
To make the extension to the boat ramp at Auburn State Recreation Area’s Lower Lake Clementine the ramp is be closed to vehicles and vessel launching until the lake refills to its normal level, which is estimated to happen by late October or early November. The Auburn Journal reported, the extension will add about 10 feet of length to the boat ramp and is estimated to cost about $85,000 when complete. Breaking down the closure, it was estimated to8 to 12 days to lower the lake while the actual boat ramp extension project lasted five days. Then it will be another three to four weeks before the lake has refilled and launches allowed again.
The area will remain open to bicycle and foot traffic during the project.
Upper Lake Clementine will remain open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays through the end of the month. From Oct. 1 to 15, the upper lake will be open Saturdays and Sundays only. After Oct. 15, Upper Lake Clementine will be closed for the season.

Friday, September 22, 2017


We do not want merely to see beauty... we want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses, and nymphs and elves. -- C. S. Lewis

Negro Bar boat ramp on Lake Natoma.
I have to admit it after four years in California it's hard for me to notice the change of the season. Other than football on TV, new skis arriving at Any Mountain and with my wife's allergies the change of the season goes by without attention.  So you can tell me summer on the calender and in some people's minds. The water is still warm but boat ramps and inputs are empty except for only a few. The sun is setting faster giving us even less time to get out.
Current Adventures Kid's Classes on Lake Natoma.

Summer has always started out with pretty high hopes for me. At its start, I think like most of us. I'm going to paddle more, camp more and take big fun trip
"Summer means promises fulfilled, objectives gained, hopes realized." wrote canoe guru Sigurd Olson more than 50 years ago,  "The surge of doing and achieving, of watching and enjoying is finally replaced by a sense of quiet and floating and a certain fullness and repletion, as though one cannot absorb any more."

Current Adentures RK1 Classes.
Those long summer days seemed to come to an end much quickly than before in out high paced world. In the end, I only accomplish half or even a quarter, of what I thought I would do and resign to the thought of maybe next summer.  Then substituted that with what Olson promised, that, --- a sense of quiet and floating and a certain fullness and repletion,--- while enjoying little adventures on my neighborhood lake and river.

Eppies Training Night.
I did work most of the summer for Current Adventures Kayak School & Trips as kayak guide and instructor took a few trips to some mountain lakes and got over hundred paddling days for the year. So I have plenty great memories of my time on the water. But I'm always a little resistant at first to the change of the season. I'm being greedy I know, but I just want more. The sun is setting earlier and earlier just as it did in the fall of 1842, when American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote,"I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air."

Debbie on Lake Jenkinson.

So ready or not summer is over and fall is here.The start of this new season provides us an opportunity to renew and review. So find your cozy sweater, enjoy the bright colors of the leaves and embrace that nostalgic chill of the air.

"I begin to secretly long for the cooler days and deeper colours that the autumnal arrival hails. I hear the geese calling overhead as they begin their journeys southwards," wrote fellow kayaker Kate Hives in her blog "At home on the water, "Without wishing too hard for the rain and the cold of winter, I welcome the transition between them. I ready my being for a gentle slowing, while still staying focused on the task at hand and the vision that motivates it... It’s time to get out for sunset paddles and kick the leaves underfoot, finish that one last project and shine brightly before the simple stark renewal of winter is upon us."

The Tea House on Fannette Island
Here are a few of our favorite kayaking images from this past summer that will help us keep those memories burning brightly while heading into the days of fall.
Moonlit Paddles on Lake Natoma.
Current Adventures Kid's Class on the river.
Lake Natoma.
The Lower American River.
Loon Lake
Bayside Adventure Sports at San Juan Rapids.
Current Adventures 50+ class.
Lake Tahoe

Paddling Day 100 on Lower American River.

Friday, September 15, 2017




boof. Noun. (plural boofs) The method by which kayakers “jump” hydraulic backwash, known as holes or hydraulic jumps, in high-gradient mountain rivers. The action is analogous to a skier jumping a cliff.

What does it mean to boof? Take a second and write down your answer, or at least think of one in your head and keep it. Got it? OK, if your answer includes the word “rock,” I’m writing this for you. Too often I hear people confuse smashing into rocks with boofing. Yes, you can boof off of a rock, but you can also boof off of a wave or just off the water anywhere there is a loss in elevation. If you have good technique you should be able to do it in a swimming pool. OK, it isn’t going to be very exciting in the pool but you should still be able to do it. So, what does it really mean to boof? What this strange word actually means is to control the elevation of our bow as was we lose elevation in our kayak. It doesn’t matter if you’re dropping a ten footer or just picking up the front of your boat to get over a small hole, the technique is the same. One of the most common mistakes that people make is to throw their weight backwards as they go off a drop. This is similar to the mistake I talked about in my previous break down of the stern quirt. In order to pull up the front of your kayak, you need to engage your core and squeeze your knees to your chest. This is the most critical part of the process. Even if your boof stroke is less than awesome, pulling your knees to your chest will go a long way toward more stylish landings. A great stroke with no core action will result in no boof. A poor stroke with good core action will result in a flat-ish landing. Obviously, you will need both in order to consistently fly off drops with steez, but if you have to focus on just one, use your core.

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 and watch his videos on You-Tube
Outside Adventure to the Max is always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at if you are interested.

Friday, September 8, 2017


At Outside Adventure to the Max, we just love our friends who thrill us with a daily post of their stories and visual media on Instagram. Whether they're running waterfalls, raging rapids or a long distance sea trek, they have brought us along and made us feel part of their adventure. Some are well known top notch kayaking athletes and photographers who have garnered thousands of followers and millions of likes while are others just might be off your radar till now.

Want to know who we follow? Here are some kayaking-feed-favorites that help us get fired up for new paddling destinations for our weekend and upcoming adventures along with inspiring us with their great images of our kayaking culture.

Cameron O'Connor
For chutes and paddles whitewater play boater young Cameron O'Connor puts us in this cockpit at renoriverfestival and gopromountaingames along with some other hard charging venues and play parks.  

Darin McQuoid, a California based photographer and white water paddler, has kayaked most of the world on international expeditions.  An eye for action, his photographs have been published in National Geographic, Outside, Canoe and Kayak, Kayak Session, Paddler, Rapid Magazine

Makes, I live a van down by the river sound cool. Gypsy photographer Peter Holcombe leads his family around the country chasing a dream and his daughter's pink Jackson kayak.

At Outside Adventure to the Max we just love to keep up Freestyle Jr. World champion. USA Jr and Senior Slalom Team's sensation Sage Donnelly. A
a rising star in the world of whitewater kayaking, Sage shows us that girls still just want to have fun all while competing on a world class level.

Kate Hives
Kate Hives is an adventurous sea kayaking guide and rough water coach with SKILS based out of Vancouver Island. A world explorer Keep up with Hives in her blog At home on the water.

It's his life, it's his passion. Kalob Grady grew up on the banks Ottawa River one of the world's greatest whitewater playgrounds so brace for waves. He just signed on to be the head coach of World Class Kayak Academy so pack your bags for trips to Canada, Uganda, Zambia, Chile, and West Coast.

Nick Troutman is one of the most popular paddlers on the circuit. A World Freestyle Kayak Champion, film maker and most of all fun-time dad.

One of most popular guest at Outside Adventure to the Max bloggers, California based kayaker Pete Delosa takes us down some the biggest drops the Sierra can provide. Insightful and always fun you can also keep up with DeLosa on his blog at

Pete Delosa
You will need a Red Bull to keep up with Rafa Ortiz, one of whitewater kayaking's super stars. The subject of “Chasing Niagara," a film chronicling Ortiz's pursuit of being the first person ever to go over Niagara Falls his shots are beautiful, daring and always amazing.

Hey is time to relax yet? Martin Beebee mixes kayaking, golden retrievers and hot and cold places across the map in visions of peaceful tranquility. His aerial footage of the South Fork of the American River is pretty cool too. But, you'll have to go to YouTube for that.

Gavin Rieser is the Where is Waldo of kayaking in California. He and his pickup truck and kayak were traveling everywhere this past summer looking for steep roads and big drops. This is the only way to keep up him unless you want to chip in for gas money.

Funny handle but beautiful photography as J Maxfield explores the levees and reservoirs around Lewiston, ID; far away from the daily routine.

Gareth Tate like to charge hard with an unquenchable thirst for travel and adventure. Tate takes us up snowy peaks, down raging rivers and for a dip into Lake Tahoe.

Dylan McKinney
North Carolina whitewater globe trekker Dylan McKinney captures the feel and excitement of paddling in some of the world’s foremost whitewater. He puts you up front and takes you for a wild ride. Hold on tight!

The official feed of Outside Adventure to the Max. Follow us on river trips along the American River and moonlight paddles with Current Adventures as we count down to 100 paddling days and beyond.

For more adventure and inspiration along with connecting to other fellow paddlers and river lovers across the world follow some these post too. @dbpmagazineonline, @adventuretechnology, @aquabound@adventurekayakmag, @nsrweb @rapidmagazine,@daggerkayaks

Friday, August 25, 2017


 By Outside Adventure to the Max Guest Blogger Kate Hives

I have long craved a map and a compass. I long for the certainty that comes through being able to plan for the journey, know where I stand in a landscape and can then clearly navigate the terrain to the next way point. My chosen career in wilderness guiding has been a fitting metaphor to fulfill this desire. I have become fluent in the languages of True and Magnetic Norths, I have learned to read the clouds and feel wind directions to predict weather; and I have studied the tidal cycles, learning how to work with the power of the ocean. I have slowly, ever surely become a great navigator of this wild and beautiful ocean meets forest terrain. Somewhere, though, there emerged a deeper longing – a longing to know more intimately an inner wilderness.

I couldn’t have told you about this longing two years ago when I began my thesis journey at Royal Roads University.  I could have told you that I was interested in the connection between Nature and Culture, but never could I have told you that my studies would take me deeper in to my own connection with Self and an inner wilderness I had only previously had a glimpse of. I could have told you I was going to embark on a Vision Quest, but I never expected how my life would unfold after the ‘questing’ was over. It is only with the gift of hindsight that I can see clearly that I wanted to explore the more psychological dimensions of wilderness adventure, to peek into the intersections and embraces of inner wilderness and outer wilderness.

As I began this journey I felt as though I was blind, stumbling around in a place that felt uncomfortable, in a fog of not knowing that was more extensive than I had ever experienced. I had no map, not even an inkling of what the territory might look like. What I truly lacked was a compass that I could use in the dark. So, I stopped searching and I started listening, using deep self-awareness as a compass for how to proceed, when to proceed, if I should proceed. I began realizing that what I was seeking was nothing more than to see myself through the eyes of loving compassion that I might see mySelf wholly in all my glorious paradox – to learn to see myself as an Innocent and a Dragon, a humble servant and a powerful leader.

The concept seems so much easier to put in a sentence than to practice as a human being. [I use the spelling of ‘mySelf’ to imply a deep self-awareness that Carl Jung might call soul connection.]

At this point in my thesis journey, which I recognize extends far before and far beyond my time here at Royal Roads; I can see the delicious darkness that holds juicy secrets that need time still to germinate; I am able to hold mySelf with a greater loving tenderness; and have an ever-increasing compassion for my fellow humans and the earth upon which we live. I am certainly not finished this journey and sincerely doubt it will ever truly be ‘finished’, but in my searching for inner health, equilibrium and knowledge, I feel as though my compassion for others has increased as I find it for mySelf.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis love I spoke of in the last paragraph, I don’t mean it as a gushy, ooy-gooey kind of smoochy way, I mean it as a deep acceptance of something, in this case myself. Being able to spend enough time in the shadowy realms of my human experience and being, so that I may better understand these places and perhaps be able to work with them as I work with ocean currents on the sea. This love for mySelf that I have been cultivating in the darker days of winter has strangely begun to spill out. It has begun to affect the ways I interact with and see other people, the other-than-human beings around me and has been, it appears, to be a curious by-product of inner reflection.]

My journey has been inherently impactful to me as a leader, especially in terms of the concept of ‘leading from where you stand’, if only because I am more fully aware of just where it is I am standing. I embarked upon a Vision Quest as a grounding foundation for my study. The vision quest is designed to initiate participants and invite them on a journey towards being able to more wholly embody their truest Selves, to encounter soul and learn to use Ego in service of its deepest longing. A year and a half after my Quest I have traveled through initiation, which took a lot longer than I expected – or hoped- and am now actively participating in the Return (which has also taken a lot longer than I had imagined). This process of bringing the gift, mySelf, back into the world is a heavy task. It seems as though it is requiring me to be more responsible than ever before – deeply responsible to mySelf.

To clarify how truly big this responsibility to mySelf is, feels like a daunting task. If I can try to distill it down into its simplest form: responsibility to mySelf means I am open and clear about where I am now; that I can listen enough to hear when I need sleep, to be social, or to run in the hills; that I can be compassionate enough to honour those needs in myself and in turn, others; to continue to trust that I will always have what I need (even if it doesn’t always feel like it); and that everything I can be, I already am. Ha, no big deal right!?!

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 if you are interested.

Friday, August 18, 2017


I wish, my dear, dear friends, that you could share this divine day with me here. The soul of Indian summer is brooding this blue water, and it enters one’s being as nothing else does. ---John Muir

There was an undeniable feel of magic in my paddle and exuberance in the movement of my kayak while skimming across the cobalt-blue of the lake. In each stroke the far off peaks loomed closer, the shimmering water appeared cleaner and the wilderness became ever so clear. A small party paddlers accompanied me on this trek to adventure and serenity. No cell phones or text messages allowed, this place is more akin to the hand written words of Thoreau, Emerson and Muir. Yes, to truly appreciate the enchantment of this lake was to paddle it.

At 6,378 feet, Loon Lake sits in the northern section of the Crystal Basin Recreation Area in the Eldorado National Forest along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just to the west of its famous and much bigger neighbor Lake Tahoe and within hiking distance to the federally protected Desolation Wilderness. Four other lakes and reservoirs are the also included in this recreation area spanning over 85,000 acres of forested rugged terrain. Union Valley Reservoir is the largest with some 24-miles of shoreline. While other lakes include Ice House Reservoir, Gerle Reservoir, and Wrights Lake.

Loon Lake was created in the 1960s by the Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District as part of a network of mountain hydro power plants. The nearby is Loon Lake Chalet, is a popular winter recreation destination, but in summer people flock to the lake with its three campgrounds and the boat ramp provide areas perfect for camping, hiking and kayaking.

Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips has hosted this two-day overnight one-of-a-kind camping experience in August at the lake for the past decade. By day we explored the coves and bays while meandering around sun bleached granite boulders that look like an armada of islands dotting the lakeside. We even saw a bald eagle perched high above the lake in his tree top surveying his kingdom. While at night, we lounged along the rocky beach looking towards the heavens while viewing the Perseid Meteor Shower. The darkness was interwoven awed responses of,  "Oohs and ahas and There goes one!" when a meteor streaked by, stretching out its long tail across the sky till finally burning out in a glorious display of fire raining from the sky.

All the meals, camping equipment and kayaks were provided for paddlers and first-time campers to enjoy a cozy "roughing it" in-style camp-out, freeing them to only de-stress and unwind in the realm of nature along this alpine reservoir.

In a letter to friends, while visiting Lake Tahoe, naturalist John Muir wrote of the lake's hypnotizing charm as he said,  "As I sauntered through the piney woods, pausing countless times to absorb the blue glimpses of the lake, all so heavenly clean, so terrestrial yet so openly spiritual.”

And for anyone who has spent time at Loon Lake they can relate. Its sapphire blue of the water gleaming against the shadows of mountains is a magic waterway to tranquility and bliss.

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
owner Dan Crandall

Friday, August 11, 2017


Canoes Races, George Catlin
“Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on on the story.” J.R.R. Tolkien

It was going to a long wait along the South Fork of the American River. I had lost the coin flip and was delegated to being the shuttle driver for my paddling companions coming down river. I picked up some coffee, beef jerky and some caramel popcorn on the way down to the river access and settled in for a long tedious wait. Sitting back along the bank of the stream I was hypnotized into a trance as I watched the dancing billowing waves stream over the rocks and then subside into a quiet pool at the takeout.

"You know this used to be more of a pit-stop than the finish line the first time paddlers came down this river." said a voice behind me. It was the grizzled old Storyteller who had told me tales one evening around the fire while at Loon Lake.

"It all began with a big race that started way up there past what they call Chili Bar now," he continued, "In those days they didn't have dams or give the rapids names for that matter. And they race non-stop for about 100-miles all the way down to the confluence of the Sacramento River or as one of area tribes called it  "Nome-Tee-Mem", meaning, water from over the hill."

Under the Falls, The Grand Discharge, Winslow Homer
Now most boaters know, the South Fork starts high in Sierra Nevada Mountains and is fed mostly by melting snow. The 20-mile or so run from Chili Bar to Salmon Falls that features about 20 named rapids and countless other little ones. In summer, flows are usually rated up to Class III or so, but with high water, in the early part of the season they can bubble up to a good Class IV rapid in places. After that, the river flows into Folsom Reservoir, then into Lake Natoma before heading almost straight west for about 25 miles to the Sacramento River.

"You see Native Americans inhabited the American River valley for at least 5,000 years before the Spaniards and Americans showed up." said the Storyteller, "They called it Kum Mayo, which means "roundhouse" and used its resources for everything. The oaks and pines provided shelter while the deer and fish provided food. And to honor the Kum Mayo and the river spirits that brings the salmon back from the sea to spawn and later die. A race was held to show the young  salmon the way back to the ocean since they have no parents to guide them."

A long paused followed. He straightens his Fedora. Then took a flask from his jacket's pocket. Opening it, he then and took a swallow, then looked at me and then back to the river.

"A great adventure is what lies ahead them, he whispered,

"Other than walking," the Storyteller went on to explain, "Canoes and rafts were the primary methods of transportation for the tribes and they relied on them for hunting, fishing and trading expeditions. And of all the area paddlers, Tahoe was the best of the best."

"Hold up there," I interrupted, "You mean a guy was named after the lake?"

Lake Tahoe, Albert Bierstadt
"It was the other way around kid," claimed the Storyteller,  "Legend says he put out a forest fire by paddling his canoe around the lake so fast that he created massive waves and tornado like water spouts that extinguished the fire, saving the villages along the shore. They say his super human paddling caused the lake to fall from the heavens, hence the name Tahoe meaning "Lake of the Sky."

"Now there were three types of canoes used," the Storyteller reminded me as he continued his story, "Dugout, birch bark and reed canoes and all them crowded beach come race day. Tahoe's canoe was a sturdy and heavy dugout. He craved it from an oak tree and painted it with streaks of fire. He and his craft would surely be unbeatable."

"A cheer of exuberance came over the crowd as a young warrior toted a small narrow watercraft down to the river over his shoulder. Constructed with whalebone-skeleton frame and animal skins stretched over its hull, the boat had a covered deck with only a small opening on top. Carrying a double-bladed paddle the young venturer was known as Two Paddles."

Father and Son Out to Sea, I.E.C. Rasmussen
"The very first kayak on the South Fork," I blurted out with excitement.

"That's right kid and I'd estimate there have been about million or so since," asserted the Storyteller, before he continued his tale.

"Now Two Paddles was the bravest of all the braves. He had paddled area lakes and rivers and had even traveled to the far north where he had learned to paddle like the Inuits,  perfecting a technique that allowed the kayak to be righted after rolling upside down."

"Tahoe scoffed at the narrow little boat with two points and said to Two Paddles, "You will be crushed on the rocks where the Water Babies reside then eaten by the Water Lynx."

"Two Paddles laughed and said, "I will fly over the Water Babies' rapids like the wind and hurtle past the great water cougar where the river become one."

"You see aside from distance and rapids, the paddlers would face three crucial challenges in finishing the race," revealed the Storyteller, "The Water Babies living in the rapids of the gorge, the Water Lynx that lived at the confluence of the north and south forks of the river and the Fish-women at Suicide Bend. All could prove to be deadly."

"Water Babies, sea monsters and mermaids?" I questioned.

The Water Babies, Jesse Wallcox Smith
"If you believe in that kind of stuff," he murmured, "Washoe legend tells of small humanoid type creatures inhabiting bodies of water sometimes causing illness or death of a person. Hearing and responding to the Water Baby's cry can result in catastrophe. Kinda like a gremlin, I suppose. They like to upset and roll canoes in the fast water. I'm sure they still exist to this day, so try to ignore their crying if you hear it."
"The Water Lynx, " he continued, "Was a powerful mythological water creature that was something of a cross between a cougar and a dragon. Those who saw it, and not many who did survived, said it was an enormous monster with a long prehensile like tail made of copper or gold that could snap a canoe in half drowning its paddler."

"And last there were the Fish-Women," the Storyteller smiled, "These were beautiful half naked creatures with fish tails and the upper bodies of goddesses. They would sit on the rocks at the edges of the deep pools or above swift rapids combing their shimmering long black hair while singing alluring love songs to young warriors encouraging them to jump into the fast moving stream. The name stuck. They still call it Suicide Bend."

"As expected Tahoe took the lead at the start of the race," the Storyteller emphasized, "His heavy canoe smashed through the rapids, waves and even through the rocks of Kum Mayo leaving behind the armada canoes. Two Paddles even had difficulty keeping up with Tahoe's canoe at first."

Courtesy of Weird U.S.
"In the gorge, the sound of Water Babies the crying echoed over the canyon and the foaming river. Canoes and paddlers turned broadside into whirling water as the little demons appearing like human babies made the warriors try to help them by reaching into the water, only for themselves to be pulled into the swift current by the little devils. It wasn't long before most were swimming and their boats were sinking. In his hefty boat Tahoe lost little time ignoring the weeping Water Babies while proceeding on. Two Paddles however,  was turned upside down in the swelling boil and came face to face with one of Water Baby's devilish grins. But he rolled his kayak back up in a swirling cesspool of debris and fragments of the busted canoes and paddles."

"Only a handful of paddlers emerged from the gorge. Tahoe was in the lead and Two Paddles was at the very end as they approached the confluence of the two rivers," the Storyteller pointed out, "It's all dam up now with Folsom Dam, but back then, past the peninsula where the two rivers met was the home of the Water Lynx."

Courtesy of Cryptomundo
"Tahoe awoke the slumbering panther as he paddled into the rivers' junction. It gave out a mighty roar as it slapped its paw at Tahoe's canoe. Missing by inches, it sent a wave of water over Tahoe's bow. The next paddlers were not so fortunate. The half lion and half dragon snapped the next canoe in two with a mighty blow from its serpent tail made of gold and then proceeded to wrap it's glistening tail around another boat, lifting high into the air, before smashing it against the wall of the canyon as the terrified canoeists scrambled out of the water and ran for their lives."

"Two Paddles and his kayak race past the splinters of the sinking canoes," emphasized the Storyteller, "Only to have the lynx catch sight of him and give chase. It was a game of cat and mouse as the dragon-cat ran on top of the water in hot pursuit. But Two Paddles was just too fast as he rolled, weaved and somersaulted across the water. The Water Lynx soon tired of the hunt and made one last pounce, but Two Paddles slipped away by a whisker has creature dove into the deep underneath him."

"The race was three-quarters of the way over and only three paddlers remained," the Storyteller explained, "As they approached a bend in the river they heard the most beautiful sound they had ever heard. It was the song of the Fish-women. Legend says that these sirens had even bewitched the river here by confusing it to turn sharply to north creating a vibrant wave train of chaotic churning water over a clay ledge only to make it turn again with a sharp pivot to the left, sending the stream backward in a circular boil. It's still the river's last rapid and the place where the Fish-Women set their trap for the unsuspecting."

Mermaids, Jean Francis Auburtin
"Their voices were like angels," the Storyteller speculated, "Enchanting and alluring, calling them ever so close and asking for them to stay forever. Tahoe was overtaken by their beauty and paddled closer and closer to see their desirable form.
"Their song is as lovely as they are," yelled Tahoe, "I must get up to see them, to hear them."
"Don't listen to them or look at them," warned Two Paddles, 'They will only bring you death."

"But, Tahoe was spellbound and had to stop to gaze at them and when he did the creatures grabbed his boat from below and started rocking it violently trying to make Tahoe fall into the stream. But, his canoe was too heavy for them and Tahoe used his paddle to knock them all away. The other paddler, however wasn't so lucky. Under the same spell, he also stopped paddling and capsized in the circular eddy of the last rapid. He was quickly pulled under by the Fish-Women and never seen again."

"Now only Tahoe and Two Paddles were left," proclaimed the Storyteller, "There would be no more rapids or monsters, now only the river tested their endurance. You see, in those times the river there was a boundless string of marshes and wetlands giving it the appearance that they were traveling through a chain of lakes. It was here that Two Paddles and his lighter craft was able to catch Tahoe and his lumbering heavy dugout. For the first time in the race, they were side by side."

"The setting sun was blinding as they approached the finish line, the brown silty water of "Nome-Tee-Mem." Faster and faster they paddled, with each stroke the river loomed ahead of them. Their bodies ached and sweat poured from them, but they would not slow down or stop paddling."

"Along the shore, the local bands gathered to watch," divulged the Storyteller, "But wasn't just the humans of the valley, the deer, bear and wolf viewed from the woods. Eagles and hawks peered down from above, while the otters, salmon and trout watched from below. They would all tell their children and their children's children of this epic race."

"So who won?" I finally pleaded.

"It's mystery." said the Storyteller looking off to the river. He was watching my two friends paddling together after going through the last rapid.

Indian Canoe Race, William de la Montagne
"One story says, Tahoe crossed first into the big water only to die when his heart gave out from paddling his heavy canoe, " he sighed, "Another legend says that Two Paddles finished first, only to have Tahoe immediately challenge him to another race. The next day they raced on to the ocean and some say they kept paddling from there."

"So which one do you believe?" I queried.

"I think they crossed together like your friends out there," the Storyteller concluded, ''They started out as rivals and ended up as brothers. Each looking out for one another while on the water. Because in the end, winning didn't matter as much as the journey together."