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

Friday, May 12, 2017

"WHAT FALLS THERE ARE"... A GUIDE TO RIVER SCOUTING


We call upon the waters that rim the earth, horizon to horizon, that flow in our rivers and streams, that fall upon our gardens and fields, and we ask that they teach us and show us the way. -- Chinook Blessing

In 1869, ten men and four boats embarked on a journey through almost 1,000 miles of uncharted canyons trying to map one of the west's last great wildernesses and forever changing our view of it.

"We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore," said one-armed Civil War hero leader John Wesley Powell, "What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! we may conjecture many things."

The party experienced calamity after calamity. One of the boats sank in a rapid, taking with it all their scientific instruments and a quarter of the party’s provisions. Another near-sinking of a second boat took the remaining food through spoilage. Morale disappeared as  party members gave up and abandoned the expedition. After three months, only five of the original company would emerge from the depths of the Grand Canyon. Although hailed a hero, Powell's first trip into the unknown was a disaster.

"The relief from danger, and the joy of success, are great." wrote Powell in Down the Colorado: Diary of the First Trip Through the Grand Canyon, describing the perils of the trip, "The first hour of convalescent freedom seems rich recompense for all—pain, gloom, terror.”

Photo by Roger Peka
There is an old whitewater kayaking adage that says, "When in doubt, scout." If Powell's trip down the Colorado River teaches us anything, it's that the party didn't know anything about what they were likely to face. Today's whitewater paddling experts give us several reasons why you might want to scout a rapid first before running it.

"The first is just to make sure it has an exit. If I’m paddling on an unfamiliar stretch of river and no one in the crew knows it then it’s crucial that there is a way out of a rapid before you commit to dropping in." said Current Adventures Kayak School & Trips instructor Pete Delosa, "In California it’s not uncommon for the river to run into and under a pile of boulders. In the Northwest, it might end in a pile of trees. If you can’t see the exit from the top, you don’t really know."

The California-based kayaker Delosa sponsored by Immersion Research and member of Team Pyranha, recommends that if you know it’s going to be a hard  rapid to paddle, to study the flow and get an understanding of what the water is doing. Look for hazards you want to avoid and the line you want to make. See how much of the water is going into the hazards versus where you want to go.

"Are there certain features that are going to flip me?" said Delosa, "Maybe there is a feature like a small eddy that I can use to get to where I want to go, or maybe there’s a really big hole that I need to avoid because it feeds into a sieve."

Rafa Ortiz via Facebook
Red Bull athlete Rafa Ortiz never runs anything too stout or dangerous without a proper scout. Ortiz is one of whitewater kayaking's super stars and the focus of Chasing Niagara," a film produced by Red Bull chronicling his pursuit of being the first person ever to go over Niagara Falls in a kayak. However, he says, when he is guiding someone down a river they've never paddled, he finds it tricky choosing when to get them and scout it.

"I often find that too much information doesn't necessarily result in them having a good line, " Ortiz wrote on Facebook Messenger, "When you scout a rapid, for example, with a bad hole on the left, as you get in your boat and paddle into it, all that is in your mind is the dimension and apparent stickiness of the monster on river left. Your mind is often blurred by fear."

On the other hand, he warns, not to make someone drop into a rapid their first time without enough information. He says, it would be neglectful on his part if they ended up in the gnarly hole on the left, swim and get body recirculated just because he didn't emphasize its dimension.

"What I do nowadays is an in between," wrote Ortiz, "I suggest people scout a rapid that in my opinion does have a life-threat in it and even something that could result in a negative enough experience for them to want to quit kayaking. Otherwise, let them enjoy the pleasure of the one chance they have to run it blind."

Photo by Ethan Howard
After you've made the decision to run the rapid, start at the bottom and work your way back up to your boat, suggested DeLosa. He says to find landmarks that you will be able to spot from the water.

"Landmarks are really helpful for knowing where you are in a rapid when you can’t see the entire thing from the entrance." said Delosa,  "A good example is Skyscraper (rapid) on South Silver Creek in California. There are two really tiny standing waves right at the lip of the drop. From the pool above you can’t see anything past the horizon line, but if you go off between those two little waves with a slight left angle you’re in good shape to start."


Sacramento paddler Gavin Rieser agrees  and thinks the biggest reason, is being able to see a pool at the bottom of the drop. 
"If I can't see what looks like a pool below," said Rieser,  "I have no idea if what I'm about to run is a huge monster drop or not."
Rieser also does his homework by reading up on the rivers he will be running and checking in with area boaters on what to expect.  
"Another big factor is how much I've heard about the run or not." said Rieser, "If I know it's supposed to be a Class III to IV run, then I'm not likely to scout it much. If it's a Class V run, I will be scouting a lot more"

If you’re on a longer mission day to save time, a good habit to develop is to always take your rope with you whenever you get out to scout. Delosa says by doing this you won't have to go back to your boat and then back down stream if someone in your crew asks you to set as the safety.
"Also, while you’re scouting," said Delosa, "Another crew might come along and paddle into the rapid without scouting and you’ll be well positioned to help them should someone get in trouble."

In 1871–1872, Powell again retraced part of his ill-fated expedition down the Colorado River. This time, he would be fortified by knowledge instead of folklore. His scientific expedition filled in the blanks left behind on the  previous trip and produced the first reliable maps of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Wanting to be more comfortable, Powell acquired a sturdy armchair, and tied it to the middle bulkhead of the pilot-boat. From there, he could view the river ahead him, but this time, he had seen it before.

If you want to learn more and practice some advanced skills contact us at Current Adventures Kayaking School and Trips and ask about private advanced classes.
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, May 5, 2017

THE "OTHER SIDE" OF TOMALES BAY


BY OUTSIDE ADVENTURE TO THE MAX GUEST BLOGGER LYNN HALSTED

I’ve dipped my paddle into Tomales Bay on a handful of occasions. Mostly on  moonless nights, to explore the bioluminescence, a light produced by a chemical reaction in living things in the water. Winds are typical, for Tomales Bay and Point Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, Ca, but, for the second day in a row, the wind was almost non-existent.

This sunrise was a welcome site as I sipped my morning coffee and thought about the paddle ahead of us that day. We launched from Miller Park, which is located on the Eastern side of Tomales Bay. This is my first time launching on this side of Tomales. You pay at the kiosk to park, and the cement launch makes getting into the water a breeze.

Our Plan “A” was to head across the water, circle around Hog Island (protected), explore the Western shoreline before having lunch at White Gulch Beach.

If you’re an experienced paddler, you are never afraid to go with Plan B.
So, once everyone was in the water and after a quick safety talk, we paddled towards Hog Island. The wind, still non-existent, as you can see from these pictures. It was so pretty and calm! One of our paddlers was using a ‘peddle’ kayak for only the second time, and he indicated he was already getting tired after only 10-15 minutes of paddling.


So, we partnered someone up with him and continued to Hog Island. The eastern shore of the Island was closed due to sensitive Seal habitat and Seabird Colony. So we paddled around the island, my first time up this close, and talked about our plan. Our tired paddler was now a concern, as the wind had come and there were rather large swells that seemed to some out of no where. I’m serious, the conditions changed in a matter of minutes!

After a conversation with a fellow paddler who has been on this section of Tomales countless times, we decided it would be best to paddle back to the launch and let our tired paddler take out and rest. The rest of our group would paddle on the Eastern shoreline, heading inland. This must have been meant to be, as this turned out to be a beautiful paddle.


So, after our tired paddler was safe to shore and out of their kayak, we paddled by the little sitting area off of Nick’s Cove restaurant, where later we would enjoy an adult beverage. I was hopeful I could take this old gas pump for my backyard Most of us ladies had fun joking about our ideal ‘man’, stationed up on the hill, overlooking the bay as if to flag us in with his stoic stare and well positioned lantern. A resident Bald Eagle was perched up in a tree, so I paddled under him and too this shot.

My favorite part of the day; Lunch! After about 2 hours of paddling, we found a great place to exit, stretch, and enjoy the sunshine as we ate our lunch. I even found a ‘planted’ piece of driftwood for my garden at home. Once our tummies were full, we decided to explore a little channel that only went inland a few hundred yards before dead ending into Highway-1. There was an Egret eating his lunch, but my pictures didn’t turn out well.

However, this picture of the Egrets turned out quite nicely. I’m sometimes amazed at the great shots I get. This was one of them. These Cormorants were drying out their wings and the silhouette was breathtaking.

After a long day of paddling, we headed back to the take-out. This will go down in my memory banks as a top 10 paddle experience.

 Lynn Halsted  is the founder of Sacramento Paddle Pushers,
Halsted started SPP, an online paddling meet up group in October 2010. As  popularity of kayaking grew so did her group. It now has close to 500 members with a solid core of 60 paddlers actively taking part in trips through out California and even sometimes venturing into the Pacific Northwest. Catch up with more of Halsted kayaking adventures at her blog Dipping My Paddle. You can find Sacramento Paddle Pushers on Meetup.com.

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