Friday, August 11, 2017

TWO PADDLES AND THE GREAT RIVER RACE: A CAMPFIRE TALE

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 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."

Friday, August 4, 2017

PETE'S RIVER TIPS

Photos provide by Pete Delosa
Tuesday tip: When you're headed out to the river, make sure you're getting in your boat for the right reasons. You will have to decide for yourself what the "right reasons" are. For me it's about sharing the experience in a beautiful place with beautiful people. What are the "right" reasons for you?
California based kayaker Pete DeLosa is headed back to school this month. This time as a full time high school instructor teaching introduction to engineering to the next crop of students. DeLosa writes that he is very excited about his road ahead and looking forward to great many opportunities to inspire our next generation.
Here at Outside Adventure to the Max ,, where Delosa is often featured as a guest blogger, we are not surprised that Delosa, a Current Adventures Kayak School & Trips  instructor will be sharing his knowledge with future engineers. The guy loves to teach. We know this from his love of paddling and his desire to instill that into others. Whether you are an experienced paddler or brand new to paddling, DeLosa is always willing help you as a boater develop that edge you want to make you a bettet kayaker.
"Pete is hands down one of the most awesome human beings I've met," said  paddler and The River Store empolyee, Ethan Howard, "Along with mentoring me in the game of whitewater, he has also taught me valuable life lessons that I will never forget."
So as we send DeLosa back to classroom, we look at some of his wit and wisdom he has shared with us in his Tuesday Facebook posts offering insight, protocol, and civility for your next time on the river.

Tuesday Tip: If you're headed to the river with out a crew of your own and just hoping to meet up with someone who you can tag along with and get a shuttle, don't go to put it and wait there. This is generally considered bad form. Instead, go to the take out and wait for others to show up. This way when you are talking to people you can offer to participate with the shuttle. You may get lucky and not need to but people will appreciate the offer and you won't be making them choose between squeezing you in and leaving you stranded.
Tuesday tip: We all know we're supposed to point positive on the river. What about talking positive? It can be loud and hard to hear on the water. Recently while kayaking I heard a buddy behind me say "left." That was the only word I caught. I thought I knew where I was going, but he did know that run better than I did so I changed course and went left. Turns out, what he said was "don't go left." Well, all's well that ends well and it worked out OK. I just missed a sweet boof and instead beatered through a janky crack. For future let's all get in the habit of talking positive as well as pointing that way.

Tuesday tip: If you're carrying your boat on a narrow path with a wall on one side and a cliff on the other, don't carry your boat between you and the wall. Keep it on the cliff side. This way you won't accidentally bump the wall with your boat and send yourself flying off the cliff.
Tuesday tip: When you're surfing a wave and you're at the top trying to stay on, leaning forward will help you slide down the wave. Similarly, if you're at the bottom and you want to get to the top, leaning back will drag you up the wave.
Tuesday tip: When doing stern squirts don't throw your body back as you take your stroke. This actually keeps you flatter. Instead, concentrate on squeezing your knee to your chest.
Tuesday tip: Have you been working on flat spins or cartwheels lately? Make sure your keeping your head and your shoulders ahead of your rotation.
Tuesday Tip: When taking your boof stroke, do not throw your body backwards. Throwing your body back drives the bow of your kayak down which is the opposite of what you're trying to do. It is bringing your chest to your knees that will keep your bow up. Keep your core engaged and imagine you are doing a sort of sit up as you take your stroke.

Tuesday Tip: If you're headed to the river with out a crew of your own and just hoping to meet up with someone who you can tag along with and get a shuttle, don't go to put it and wait there. This is generally considered bad form. Instead, go to the take out and wait for others to show up. This way when you are talking to people you can offer to participate with the shuttle. You may get lucky and not need to but people will appreciate the offer and you won't be making them choose between squeezing you in and leaving you stranded.
Tuesday Tip: You know that hole you paddle around on your local run? The one you never go in because you're a little scared of it. We have one somewhere. Next time you go by it, consider floating into the hole sideways. If you continue kayaking sooner or later you're going to get caught in a hole by surprise and you're going to get worked a little. Nobody ever thinks to practice this but if you do get a little stuck on purpose every now and again, you'll be much more ready for it when it just happens.
Tuesday tip: If you're going to keep your kayaking gear in your car consider getting a dog such as a pit bull with rabies to keep watch over it while you're away. Another good option may be a vehicle that explodes during forced entry. This will go a long way to prevent your stuff being stolen, or at least if it is stolen the thief won't steal from anyone else, ever.

California based kayaker Pete Delosa is a member of Team Pyranha and sponsored by Immersion Research and Shred Ready. 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, July 28, 2017

OVER THE BOW: LOON LAKE


“For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream” – Vincent Van Gogh

Clear skies the group, mostly 20 women boaters getting ready for their first trip on water. The pristine blue water and textured granite shore of lake creates a post card like vision. There is a lot more water than the year before. California's drought seems like a distant memory with views of patches of snow can be seen on the horizon of mountains, while the cobalt waters of the lake are brimming up along the rugged shoreline.

At 6,378 feet, Loon Lake 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. Nestled up close to the federally protected Desolation Wilderness, the recreation area is capped by the majestic granite peaks and traversed by lakes, reservoirs and streams spanning over 85,000 acres of forested rugged terrain along the Crystal Range.

Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips has hosted this two-day overnight one-of-a-kind camping experience in August for last decade. During the days, paddlers escape the heat while exploring the pine scented lake's many sapphire colored coves and bays and textured granite islands.

 At night the campers are treated to a night-time paddling experience to view the Perseid Meteor Shower.
All the meals, camping equipment and kayaks are 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.

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

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, July 21, 2017

POSTCARD FROM EPPIES

 "Every stroke, every few strokes, at least, think about opening those top hand fingers. If your just clenching down you are going to get tired in a hurry. Your whole body is going to tense up. It's not going to as fun and your'e not going to be as fast. You're going to be a lot faster. If you have a lot better technique. Its going to be a lot easier on your for that last part of the race." --- Dan Crandall 

Training night
For the past month Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips was conducting  intensive kayak workouts for racers building up to last weekend's Eppie’s Great Race.  It's the final leg of Sacramento's annual race. Iron men, women and teams will transfer from bicycles to kayaks and canoes at the Jim Jones Bridge and paddle the rest of the 6.35-mile stretch along the scenic American River Parkway to concluded  this weekend. Known as “The World’s Oldest Triathlon” the race is one of the largest paddling event in the United States.


River lines from Dan Crandall
Founded in 1974, the race features a 5.82-mile run, a 12.5-mile bike and paddle on the lower American River from the Sunrise Access to River Bend Park. Filled with all its ripples, eddies and one rapid requiring whitewater skills the paddling portion of the annual race is for most the exciting and challenging part of the race. While most participants come with running and biking skills many of them have never paddled the river. The Current Adventures instructors helped those paddlers with fundamentals of paddling and river reading that will came  in handy on race day.

Running San Juan Rapids
Here is a look back of at some of the highlights of race day and those training sessions on the river.

 
Pre-Race Clinic




Race Day

Race Day

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

Friday, July 7, 2017

BORN TO PADDLE, KAYAKING WITH KIDS

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


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

"Sure if you want to." I replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"This class leaves them begging for more, said Crandall, "The kids always leave these classes super excited and many come back year after year."


Meanwhile back on the lake, I had pushed the kayak up on to shore and dump all the water out of it with help from the still smiling and dripping wet ten-year-old girl. I was going to get plenty of practice doing over next couple days when she asked, "Can I do that again?"


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

Friday, June 30, 2017

California Multi-Day Kayaking: Not Just for Class V Paddlers

DCIM103GOPRO

BY OUTSIDE ADVENTURE TO THE MAX GUEST BLOGGER PETE DELOSA

I’ve been kayaking in the Sierra Nevada Mountain for nine years now, and it is hands down my favorite place to paddle. I’ve seen some amazing rivers with countless more I have yet to explore, and I’ve met some really amazing people along the way. If you ask paddlers around the world about whitewater in California, you will probably get a lot of responses referring to the classic multi-day trips that these mountains are known for. High sierra bed rock granite class V for days brings kayakers from all over the world even in years of low snow pack. What about those who want to explore some multi-day self support kayaking or raft support kayaking without having to face the extreme class V conditions of the high sierra? Are there still runs that make fun multi-day trips for the everyday paddler? Yes. Yes, there are. Here are a few suggestions for runs that make great overnight trips without the class V element.

  • South Fork of the American (full river) Class III
    1. You probably already know this stretch pretty well. Why not start at chile bar on Saturday and camp on the BLM beach just downstream of greenwood on river right? Then, you can finish the trip through the gorge the next day. If you’re doing this when flows are normal, waiting on the release on Sunday morning makes for a great casual breakfast hangout by the rio.
  • East Fork Carson Class II
    1. This 20 mile section in on the eastern slope of the Sierras has ample camping opportunities with hot springs at the half way point. I highly recommend this trip to anyone wanting to enjoy a weekend of paddling, camping, and hot springs.
  • North Fork American (Giant Gap) Class IV
    1. This 13 mile run is typically done in one day but it could easily be split into a two day. This canyon is incredibly beautiful and would make a great spot to hang out with friends around a campfire for a night.
  • Middle Fork of the American Class II-IV
    1. The tunnel chute run is long. Why not make an overnighter out of it? While you’re at it you could add another night or maybe even two going from the tunnel chute take out down to the confluence with the NFA. Double check my beta on this lower section because I haven’t actually done it, but I think it is a pretty nice class II paddle with just the one bigger rapid right at the confluence which would be an easy portage. You could also just overnight the lower section I think if you didn’t want to do the tunnel chute run.


    California based kayaker Pete Delosa is a member of Team Pyranha and sponsored by Immersion Research and Shred Ready. 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, June 23, 2017

EPPIES TRAINING 2017

Eppie's Great Race is coming up fast. The event is presented by the Eppie’s Wellness Foundation is Saturday July 15, 2017. Since its debut, Eppie’s Great Race has been held every year in Sacramento becoming a Northern California summertime tradition for elite athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and their families. The race features a 5.82-mile run, a 12.5-mile bike and a 6.10-mile paddle held along the scenic American River Parkway in Rancho Cordova and Sacramento. Its designated beneficiary is Therapeutic Recreation Services, a Sacramento County program for people of all ages with special needs and developmental disabilities.

The river portion of the race makes it one of the largest paddling events in the United States, offering a different dynamic from other triathlons with a "no swim" competition.

However, most of participants come with running and biking skills but many have never paddled the river before or even sat in a kayak. Because of this, Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips has set up uniquely designed training sessions to help racers ensure success come race day with their Current Adventures Eppies Great Race programs. Expert instructors to help the participants build their confidence, paddling skills and river reading knowledge.

"With the high water this year on the Lower American times will be faster," said Current Adventure's owner Dan Crandall, "But, only if you understand how the lines and safety concerns are different in a year like this. Let us help you prepare for the high water conditions and race day success."

TRAINING DATES ARE JUNE 27, 29; JULY 6 10 12, 2017
Email us at Info@CurrentAdventures, com or Call 530-333-9115 to register for kayak rental and training options

To give you an idea of what it like to train with Current Adventures for Eppies Great Race paddling portion here is article that was originally published in Outside Adventure to the Max, July 8, 2016



The water glistens in the late afternoon sun. Across the way kids frolic in it ankle-deep, while father down fishermen dot the rocky shore of the stream and huddling below the bike bridge kayakers in PFDs and bike helmets lay out a rainbow of kayaks at the edge of the beach. Anticipation, elation and anxiety churn in each one like the river before them. Looking out over the quiet scene their thoughts of doubts and hesitation are instantaneously interrupted by the booming voice of Dan Crandall.
"Are you ready to paddle tonight? We gotta about a week left. I want hear something out of you otherwise were just going to give up...Go home. Watch TV. Eat popcorn. Peppermint Patties. Drink milkshakes. All that good stuff you want to do, that you can do the day after the race."

Crandall and his staff from Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips have been conducting intensive kayak workouts with racers for the past several weeks building up to Eppie’s Great Race. Known as “The World’s Oldest Triathlon” the race is one of the largest paddling event in the United States. Founded in 1974, the race features a 5.82-mile run, a 12.5-mile bike and a 6.35-mile paddle held along the scenic American River Parkway in Rancho Cordova and Sacramento. That 6.35 miles down the American River with all its ripples and one rapid requiring whitewater skills presents the most challenging and exciting part of the annual race. Participants are expected to transfer from bicycle to boat at the Jim Jones Bridge for the final leg of the race. While most of them come with running and biking skills many of them have never paddled the river.

"Kayaks steer from the back," Crandall tells the group in some beach instruction, "You have to learn to speak this boat's language. It's a combination of edging correctly so the kayak knows what your after and following your stroke through behind you, that matters."

Current Adventure's sessions have giving instruction on paddling technique, river reading and turning troublesome San Juan Rapids into a speed bump. However, this year the rapid has offer many challenges for the new paddlers. "Lean forward and smile, " said Crandall, " Show the river you are not afraid and keep a paddle in the water."

There are three ways to pass through San Juan Rapids. Being off to the right provides the best waves, in the middle for a fun drop and extended bubble wave or stay to the far left and avoid the rapid only to feel it's powerful eddy effect. Underneath the rapid the river flows back together smashing into the cliff creating a circular boil, before slowing down to gentle speed. The practicing racers are encouraged to run the rapid a couple of times to familiarize themselves with its nature.

Some paddlers have use these sessions to update their skills and get in a practice run for the event, while others are kayaking for the first time. The instructors helps each paddler with paddling fundamentals that will be handy come race day.

"You gotta stay in the current all the way till the outside of that corner." Crandall, calls out as the kayakers raft up together, So just think about that tonight. Start being very aware on the lines on the river. Use landmarks look ahead. Every time you come around a corner, set a new course to the next corner, don't just be staring at the bow or the deck of your boat. Looking ahead is what makes you faster and keeps you on better lines."

At the end of course tired paddlers pull their kayaks across the finish lines with an understanding of the river and what is hand for the great race.

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


Friday, June 16, 2017

LIKE DAD


 BY OUTSIDE ADVENTURE TO THE MAX GUEST BLOGGER TAYLOR CARLSON

My siblings and I continue to have the same argument. Who is the most like Mom or Dad? While I can see a lot of our mother in my sisters, by having a passion cooking and strong religious family values. I started to think, what makes me the most like my father? I agree that unlike my younger brother, Cole, I share more similar interests in pop-culture with my father.

From my enjoyment of old adventure movies like Indiana Jones to his taste in 70s folk music to even, yes, wearing the same out-of-style clothing I wore back in high school (apparently, Livestrong bracelets aren’t a thing anymore). Yes, as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more and more like my Dad. And while this may sound like a sigh of relief for my brother, there’s one thing that he, along with me and Dad, share a strong passion for: The Great Outdoors.

One of the first camping trips I remember sharing with Dad was during the week of Father’s Day in 2002. Dad and I, along with my Boy Scout troop, took part in a father-son fishing trip to the Paint Lake Provincial Park near Thompson, Manitoba, a small nickel mining town near the Hudson Bay. Prior to this trip, Dad could only attend small, weekend outings to nearby Minnesota lakes due to his busy schedule.

However, that was not the case with embarking on a 700-mile trip through the Canadian wilderness to spend one week in a wooden lodge, only eating nothing, but what we caught (or what the resort diner was serving across the lake).

At the time, I was at that age where I was not that impressed with being in the middle of nowhere. Instead, I just wanted to do teenager stuff like run around in the woods with my friends or simply stay inside my cabin and read some paperback book that I took along. But my father was excited and woke me up every morning at 4 AM to watch the sunrise as we cast our fishing poles off the dock. By the end of the week, I ended up catching the biggest walleye out of the troop.

Since that trip, every summer, to this day, I long for spending time in nature. The wide open lakes, the sound of the loons, the smell of a campfire, and sight of the northern lights. But nothing reminds me more of that than of the great state of Minnesota. In June 2006, as I was coming to end of my journey on the Boy Scout trail and advancing towards the lifetime rank of Eagle Scout, my father had this grand idea for me to continue my career in Scouting by encouraging me to apply for my first ever job as a camp counselor at Camp Wilderness, a Boy Scout camp in northern Minnesota.

His reasoning was he wanted me to have a “life experience” and not work the boring, in-town job at a local McDonald's like other teens. Despite being against the idea at first, in retrospect, the summer of 2006 was one of the best summers of my life due to my time spent as a counselor.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I continued going for seven more summers, even becoming a counselor at my sisters’ Camp Fire Girls summer camp. Dad and the family did visit me often on weekends. While Mother took us to cute nearby towns to enjoy an ice cream cone, Dad took me on even more camping trips like to Bemidji State Park or to Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River.
> It was during these trips that I picked up another trait from my father: becoming that annoying know-it-all guy on a vacation who points out historical landmarks only to give a history lesson to those who listen. In repeated trips to Bemidji, I don’t know how many people I have told people that the local Dairy Queen is built on the sight of tribal huts of Chief Bemidji.

As me and my siblings became older, our days spent as counselors became numbered. Gone were the days of long summer camping trips with the Boy Scouts. Instead, the focus became on smaller, trips to go kayaking. It was time for us to spend as a family, reminiscing with stories around the campfire about previous camping trips. During the kayaking trips, Dad chose to go to places that we had never been before, mostly so that he could buy a new T-shirt from the gift shop.

On one Fourth of July trip, we were kayaking through the Old Broken Down Dam on the river as I calmly paddle down river, texting some girl on my phone, as Cole and Dad excitedly awaited upcoming rapids. Dad warned me to put away my phone as the current will become stronger and that I might drop it. While I insisted that he was wrong that I won’t drop my phone, I didn’t predict that I was going to fall out of my kayak and into the water.

While I survived just fine, my phone did not. I was upset, but Dad knew how to help… by taking us all to our traditional last stop: Pizza Ranch Buffet!  Looking back, out of all the camping trips I have taken part of with the Boy Scouts or as a counselor, nothing has been more fun than giving me lifelong memories attending these trips with my father.

Happy Father's Day
Taylor Carlson
June 2017

Taylor Carlson is oldest son of Outside Adventure to Max blogger Nick Carlson. He grew up in Fargo, North Dakota and spent many summers in camping, hiking and boating in Minnesota. He now resides in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

SOLSTICE SOLITUDE


Thus situated, many hundred miles from our families in the howling wilderness, I believe few would have equally enjoyed the happiness we experienced...You see how little nature requires to be satisfied. Felicity, the companion of content, is rather found in our own breasts than in the enjoyment of external things; And I firmly believe it requires but a little philosophy to make a man happy in whatever state he is. This consists in a full resignation to the will of Providence; and a resigned soul finds pleasure in a path strewed with briars and thorns. ---Daniel Boone

Legendary early American trailblazer and famous woodsmen Daniel Boone was constantly exposed to daily dangers and perils of frontier life. Survival meant living of the land and evading Indian attacks. He would often disappear into the forest for weeks and even months on long extended hunts before returning home to his family. According to author Robert Morgan, "Boone sought oneness with the wilderness as a mystic seeks union with the creator or a lover yearns to merge with the beloved."

There is a story about how a hunting party heard an odd sound coming from the woods. Upon investigating, they came across Boone, lying on his back in a little clearing singing to the clouds, trees, and passing birds. Singing for joy. Singing for nature. For Boone, life in the wilderness was a sublime combination of fear and delight mostly experienced by traveling alone.

My solo kayak trips have bestowed that same familiarity for me. In the far off distant land of Minnesota, I use to strap my kayak on to the roof of an old Chevy van packed up my camping gear, some freeze-dried food along with a notebook and pen, then escape for an overnight, maybe a weekend or if I was lucky enough an extended trip lasting several days. Of course the dangers were minimal, outside on falling off the roof of my van while unloading my boat.

I would slip off into some corner of the wilderness just around the bend from the boat ramp. Like at Lake Bronson State Park in the northwest Minnesota for my first solo trip to a boat in camping site on an island. Paddling on the lake that first trip I had a great feeling of exhilaration, followed by terror coursing through my body. The dreaming and planning, finally turned into a reality outside of my so called comfort zone. Still it wasn't long before I was feeling those mystic powers of the lake exercising my self doubts.

"There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace," wrote canoe guru Sigrud Olson, "The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness and of a freedom almost forgotten. It is an antidote to insecurity, the open door to waterways of ages past and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfactions. When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known."


I brought my daughter's chocolate Labrador the next summer for a trip to Scenic State Park, near Bigfork, Minn. I had been dog watching Mazie all summer while my daughter was working at a summer camp. She was a natural water dog and enjoyed riding in my tandem kayak. I had brought her along for a few over-nights already. She would scare off any raccoons just by being in camp, kept my feet warm at night, and ate my leftovers

We paddled around the esker, a long ridge of sediment left behind by ice age separating Coon Lake and Sandwick Lake. From this point I could see that the park lived up to its name. A group black and white patterned loons were fishing nearby taking turns diving and disappearing into the water. The silence was then broken by one's tremolo, a wavering call of alarm announcing our presence on the lake.

Camp site #6 overlooks the Sandwick Lake. Several large pines had fallen into the lake camouflaging the site's boat in entry. It was spartan site to say the least, equipped only with a fire ring and grill adjacent to a grassy spot to set up my tent. It would be my base-camp for that next couple of days while staying at the lake. My home away from home.

“To wake up on a gloriously bright morning," wrote American geologist and explorer Josiah Edward Spurr, while leading an expedition mapping the interior of Alaska, "In a tent pitched beneath spruce trees, and to look out lazily and sleepily for a moment from the open side of the tent, across the dead camp-fire of the night before, to the river, where the light of morning rests and perhaps some early-rising native is gliding in his birch canoe; to go to the river and freshen one's self with the cold water, and yell exultingly to the gulls and hell-divers, in the very joy of living."

"You alone?" questioned came from a group canoeists floating by my camp site on the next year's solo trip on the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"Always," I said. Which wasn't really true. I would take my kids along on lots of camping trips all the time. I loved sharing my adventures with my family, but my solo trips were special. They were my chance to get-away, to feel the joy of a vision quest and to be a modern-day Daniel Boone.

By day I would paddle around the lakes or rivers, exploring hidden coves and bays. I'd follow streams until my path was blocked by a beaver dam or stop just before the rush of some rapids and contemplate paddling on to the sea.

While at night, with the kayak beached, the tent set and campfire burning, I would enjoy some freeze dried stew with a bottle wine and watch the world come to a standstill, as the sun would either burned up in the black silhouetted pines or dissolved in a fiery glow into the lake. There I would melt into the warmth of my campfire under the stars, listening to the haunting reverberation of the loons. My thoughts of past and worries of the future would fade into the peace of the present.

"One day I undertook a tour through the country," said Boone, "And the diversity and beauties of nature I met with in this charming season, expelled every gloomy and vexatious thought."

Because being alone wilderness you can find the silence and solitude that can fill your heart and soul.

Friday, June 2, 2017

COLD RUSH


Ah summer-time. Nothing better than after five years of extreme drought than enjoying the warm temperatures and refreshing coolness of area California rivers. However this year, one might find it to painful to even dip in their toes. The record breaking Sierra snows are melting and creating very chilly fast-moving water for rafters, kayakers, and as well beachgoers.

“It’s freezing,” Renee Perfecto told the Sacramento Bee at the Watt Avenue access area along the American River Parkway, as she watched her three children play in shallow water away from the current. “If you get in knee-deep, the water’s ice cold, but the kids don’t seem to mind.”

Upstream on the South Fork of the American River the fresh runoff is translating into big rapids and excitement and area boaters are reaping the benefits.
“It was awesome, a little cold, it’s fast.”” kayaker Eric Winkler told CBS13-TV.

Caution signs have been posted along the river in Caloma, Ca., reading “Cold, Fast Water.” River watchers there, say the river is flowing five times higher than it did the past four years.

“People aren’t used to this big water like we’ve had in the past. Five years of a drought really impacts people’s ability to look at a river. They just don’t remember,” That's what Tulare County Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Kemmerling told the Los Angeles Times about the Kern River, “This year, they think it’s the same river, but it’s five times as big.

California's Kern River had one of its deadliest Memorial Day weekends in 24 years after three people died on the river. Kemmerling said, that search and rescue teams also rescued more than 26 other people from sandbars, trees and other precarious perches in the swiftly moving water over the holiday weekend.

“They get lulled into a false sense of security,” Kemmerling said in the same interview, “What they think is a tranquil river that they’re used to — the currents are running 12 mph. And you can’t swim out of it once you get into it.”

Four people have drowned so far this year in Sacramento waterways according to authorities. The most recent was a 19-year-old man whom drowned after he jumped into the frigid North Fork of the American River and was quickly swept away.


An average of six people drown every summer in Sacramento area waterways, with the accidents concentrated in areas such as Tiscornia Beach at Discovery Park. In 2015, 13 people drowned in the American and Sacramento rivers. Last year, no drownings were reported on them between Memorial and Labor Days. This year bracing for the worst, county and city officials have decided to keep Discovery Park located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers one of area's popular beaches closed due to dangerous conditions.

“It’s incredibly high,” Jim Remick, a diver instructor for DART (Drowning Accident Rescue Team) told The Sacramento Bee  along the American River Parkway, “The water is quite cold and dangerous. It’s an unprecedented thing for the county and city to close the beaches (on Memorial Day weekend), but the way the river is now, (the beaches) may stay closed until the Fourth of July.”

Tiscornia Beach, also remains closed because of winter storm and flooding damage. The park itself opened on a limited basis to allow people to launch boats.

Friday, May 26, 2017

AQUARELLA


These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession. -- Claude Monet

While touring Claude Monet’s home and garden in the Normanady village of Giverny, about an hour train ride from Paris, I found myself and the world famous artist linked by the same elan, because we share that same enthusiasm and inspiration of nature and a kindship of water.

Chartres River Walk
“I am following Nature without being able to grasp her," said Monet,  "I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”

This is where he created one of his most famous works depicting water lilies in the pond surrounding his gardens. In his footsteps, among other tourists I got  glimpse of his inspiration as I followed the meandering path under weeping willows and over a Japanese bridge and saw the pond's spellbinding reflection of light and water. He painted them here, in every time of the day, moving along with the with the sunlight. He created eight mammoth curved panels that to this day, still immersed people into his garden.
Seine River, Paris

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way." Monet said, "So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”
They are like the same mirrored images that inspire me everyday, while out on the lake or river. The movement of the water and its changing colors shimmering around me.

Kate Hives an adventurous sea kayaking guide and rough water coach with SKILS based out of Vancouver Island described in best in her blog At home on the water, when she wrote, "I feel so lucky to know the magic of travel by way of water, to intimately feel the ebb and flood of the ocean as it caresses the rocky shores and sandy beaches of this coastal playground. Sometimes I feel like I have been told a great secret of the mystery of the natural world and my – our – connection to it. It is this time of year that I revel in setting out in my kayak to search of the feasts of the natural world."

Lake Natoma
So now as spring fades and I head into the summer paddling season, I look back some of my favorite images and reflections while on the water. And just like Monet, I find myself appreciating the light, the blue sky and the water.

Lake Natoma with Current Adventures

Bayside Adventure Sports on Folsom Lake
Lake Natoma
Lake Natoma
Current Adventures at Lake Natoma
Lake Natoma