Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Non-Paddler Shopping Paddler's Guide

Christmas is here and The River Store's Dan Crandall has plenty of gift ideas for that paddler on your list at your local paddling shop.

YEP! This is the Guide for those who don’t paddle but need some help figuring out a useful, cool gift for their buddy. May it be partner, child, or friend these items are sure to keep you out of the dog house this winter. />
Now, I know what you’re thinking… How do I know what gear to get them without asking and ruining the surprise? Don’t worry The River Store has you covered. Below you can learn about the gear that most paddlers need and the subtle questions you should ask your gear head to find out exactly what they need.
First, here are some basic universals that most paddlers can use:
Noseplugs (great stocking stuffer) 
Zinka Colored Nosecoat (Keep their faces safe from the sun rays with colored Zink super great for kids especially!)
Locking Carabiners (you can’t ever have enough of these)
Filter bottle (Not in stock at the River Store currently, but can custom order)
Sink the Stink (whether they think they need it or not, this helps />remove the stink from the gear)
New sponge for sponging out their boat
Straps 12′ 15′ or 20′ all good sizes
A new set of fleece or Capilene Top and Bottoms
Don’t know what to get… Gift Cards always are Sweet you can do them for Gear or For Instruction.
Now if you are looking for the extra brownie points or are trying to do the shopping on the sly, here are some helpful tips for figuring out what is needed.

This is the part where you check in and see what info they might give out automatically or what you can glean. Below are some key things to find out, because even if you can’t make full sense of it The River Store staff can help you decide on the perfect presents. So here is where to start…
Find out what they paddled and what they like to paddle or aspire to paddle is it all playboating, creeking, river running, stand-up paddleboarding, or do they do all of the above.
Find out if they have any paddling trips or goals they are working towards now through next season.
You can bluntly ask if they need any gear
Pay attention to what time of year they like to paddle in, do they paddle June-September, do they paddle year-round, do they paddle April thru October? This will help you know what layering or shells they might need or want.
Also, stealthy or directly find out where they keep their gear so that you can go check it out on your own time and see if anything needs replacing.


“Stealth mission” Wait till your buddy is Out and about but NOT PADDLING, to ensure full gear kit is present. You are checking to see what they have, and what condition it might be in… First, avoid the stinky items, but make a note: IF really stinky a definitely get the Sink the Stink (the enzyme that will help with the stench and not damage the materials).
Next look at the kit they should have the basic 5 items first, Helmet, Paddle, PFD (lifejacket), Skirt, and Boat.  Here are some things to look at to figure out if they need to replace anything due to use.
Paddles: check the edge of each blade, do they look battered as if your friend was chopping firewood or rocks with the blade instead of gliding through the smooth substance of water. Is their carbon fiber or fiberglass either on the shaft or blades that get poky and could cause splinters.
Skirt: So, first of all, there are two sizes on a skirt, one is the waist the other is the cockpit, if you see any sizing written on the skirt write it down, also write down whatever the brand and model name and size of the boat/s they might have. This info will be useful if it turns out the skirt does need replacing, you can call in and have a staff member help you make sure to get the right sizing. Now look for wear marks and holes, Wear usually occurs along the sides of the skirt on the top of the deck. Also, look at the bungee or rubber rand that goes around the skirt is it well attached. Some things to note about the skirt is it all just neoprene, does the skirt have areas that are doubled up for abrasion, is it made of Kevlar or very rugged material in some areas, does it have a hard plastic strip either sewn into the deck of the skirt or in a pocket that runs across the deck this is called an implosion bar it keeps the skirt on the boat even in rough water.
Boat: Unless they have been talking about what they want specifically I would steer clear of trying to pinpoint what boat they might want… however a great gift might be a membership to a demo program at a local shop, then they can try a bunch of stuff till they know what they want. repair job for the gaskets on the suit or top, the Neck gasket generally blows out once a year, if you prepay then this way they can come in at a later date and get the work done.
Another simple repair item that makes a good stocking stuffer is a wash in waterproofing formula, or Gortex/Synthetic fabric cleaner, often tops will lose a portion of their ability to breath or dryness after several seasons of use.

IF THEY DON’T have a …Drytop, and they paddle any time before June or after September, you might consider getting them a drytop.
Drysuits are amazing, particularly if your bud is headed on a trip like the Grand Canyon anywhere from October-May or to Chile, Alaska, or the Pacific North West. They are highly useful if they paddle year-round here in California also.
You may at this point want to tell them that this is what you want to do, so that you can get the sizing and color right. One thought on this, whatever top you buy make sure the company has a repair facility, if they don’t do repairs on the fabric, the top will not last as long. Kokatat, IR, Stohlquist, NRS all have repair facilities.

Other Items they will need
River Knife (you may need to find out if they like folding or ones that attach to their PFD
3/4-inch tubular webbing hopefully 15’ length (Great stocking stuffer particularly if included with a locking carabiner)
Spare Paddle (They may have specifics that they want time to ask)
Float bags (these are big inflatable bags that fill up the back compartment of their boat it helps keep water out of the boat when paddler takes a swim, important safety feature, if they don’t have any or they don’t hold air any more, make sure you know what boat they need to fit, both make and model)
Throwbag (this is often yellow in color or red, it is a rope stuffed into a bag of some sort, they might have specifics on what they want if they don’t have one so check in with them.)
1st aid kit (good size to get 2–3-person 2-day outing size Adventure Medical makes a good one)
Good Shoes/Booties (this one may be best done as a gift certificate… unless you know what they are looking for & the size….)
A Drybag (Snacks, Cameras, Dry clothes, Car keys, and anything else that needs to stay dry must go in a dry bag while kayaking) 
So at this point, you have established what they have or don’t have, in Hard Wear, and what condition it is in. Now you need to find out if your paddling buddy has particular tastes in gear…

Friends of your buddy are the next best bet in keeping this a stealth operation. See IF they will ask your buddy about gear and what they would get if they could replace it. Your backup if this doesn’t work is to ask for a gift certificate.
One last note… The River Store staff is super knowledgeable and maybe able to stealth mission some things for you feel free to shoot us an e-mail:
Our The River Store return policy is either return for store credit or exchange with a receipt. If an item was special ordered or on sale, we, unfortunately, cannot do returns.

Keep up with Outside Adventure to the Max, on our Facebook page and Instagram, and now on Youtube.

Thursday, November 18, 2021


"Solo trippers don't have partners to lean on when things go wrong," wrote Harlan Schwartz in Paddling Magazine, "To paddle alone, you need to be prepared and attentive to every detail."

No has to tell you, but the last two years have been like a solo canoe trip where everything has gone wrong. The Covid-19 pandemic has and continues to cause upheaval and uncertainty in our daily lives. Masks, vaccinations, Covid tests, and social distancing are the new routines of everyday life. While health experts say with more vaccinations, things should be back to normal. However, the virus continues to kill throughout the world.

The world's climate change hasn't helped much either. Some places are too wet, and some places are much too hot and dry. Outside of suffering through a few hot summer days at my home near Sacramento. I've been pretty immune in the past couple of years. That, however, changed this past year as California's drought and the Caldor Fire hit too close to home. I watched all summer long as Lake Jenkinson dwindled down week by week after suffering the third driest winter in the state's history. When folks asked when we would close the boathouse, my standard answer is as long as we have enough water to float the canoes and kayaks.
But that didn't matter much after the Caldor Fire sparked near Sly Park. With evacuation orders in place, our season came to an abrupt end, as the fire raged south of the park. Smoky days covered Northern California like a thick blanket offering little escape.

My daily and hectic work schedule has only added to the mix of this year's odyssey of life. Last year, in height of the pandemic, when the world was shut down it was a bit easier to escape to the river for an afternoon adventure. This year, however, my paddling days are way off my usual pace.
With that said, one might think I have little to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. No doubt about it, this year, I feel a lot like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulled away from the football once again flat on my back. Aaaah!

Thankfully it has not been a solo trip for me. Fortunately, the past year, I've had plenty of people to lean on as I have wandered down the trail. Some show me the way, while others I have been fortunate enough to guide along.
Hopefully, it has been like that for a lot of you also. Theodore Roosevelt said, “It may be true that he travels farthest who travels alone, but the goal thus reached is not worth reaching.”

Happy Thanksgiving

Keep up with Outside Adventure to the Max, on our Facebook page and Instagram, and now on Youtube.

Thursday, November 4, 2021


The forecast was for rain. Weather watchers were tuning into the bright green blip on the radar of the impending storms that would hit parts of northern and central California. The atmospheric river storms was expected to dump trillion gallons of rainwater and help replenish area reservoirs, douse wildfires and maybe, just maybe, put a dent into the state's ongoing drought conditions.

Well, the numbers might have been down the 5th Annual Glow Paddle on Lake Natoma, but the looming rain could hardly dampen the spirit of the event. At the Negro Bar paddlers used duct tape, and twisty ties, and just about anything they could to attach twinkling and glowing lights to their boats and sups. Some were well thought out in advance. While some like me were busy trying to get new batteries and lights out new packaging and taped on to the boat hurried fashion.

But before long, we all slid them in the water and floated away as an illuminating light show. In the twilight, the vessels rafted up bobbed in front of the access like twinkling stars on they gleamed and reflected on the placid surface.

The boats came in every size and shape. Inflatable subs and hard shells blazed on the water. John Taylor brought his canoe wrapped in a string of lights. Another paddler in the mood of Halloween strung lit pumpkins across her bow. While flashing neon green, blue and pink headbands were worn by some paddle boarders. My whitewater boat was covered with lights from bow to stern was the perfect vehicle for the evening. I could spin in circles to do a full 360 of the paddle.

The star of the water made a roaring entrance. Glow Paddle organizer Tim Senechal, seems to outdo the others in radiant brilliance. Last year he constructed a glowing roaring dragon on top of his kayak. This year he brought two. A newer and larger one, that dazzled the lake, fashioned from corrugated plastic. The oohs and ahhs echoed over the lake as Tim and his wife paddled the gleaming dragons out to join the group.
In most cases, sea monsters don't stand by to pose for pictures. But, on that night, it shined in the spotlight as other paddlers circle the dragon kayaks getting pictures and cellphone videos.

Now in the past, we'd paddle up to the rainbow bridge to cheer on the runners and walkers on the Folsom Parks & Recreation Department's annual Glow Walk & Run. But,
canceled once again due to the covid pandemic, there were no incandescence runners or walkers to cheer on. But that didn't matter. On top of the bike bridge, several onlookers peered over the deck to view the floating effervescent show from above.

This was not a workout paddle. Or even a paddle to get to any particular destination globe paddle. It was is just a celebration of paddling. The rain held off as we paddled back to the access. Our boats glowed on the dark water as I'm sure smiles did to

One by one, we all came back to the access pulling our boats out of the water. Some of them were still glowing with the lights as they were loaded onto the trucks and cars. Can't wait again to do this next year. It was so much fun, were some of the comments I heard in the parking lot.
I pulled my boat out of the water and helped other folks with theirs. I was tying mine down when the rain began to fall.

Keep up with Outside Adventure to the Max, on our Facebook page and Instagram, and now on Youtube.

Thursday, October 28, 2021


In spring of youth it was my lot 
 To haunt of the wide earth a spot 
 The which I could not love the less— 
 So lovely was the loneliness
 Of a wild lake,  with black rock bound, 
 And the tall pines that tower’d around. 
 But when the Night had thrown her pall 
 Upon that spot, as upon all,
 And the mystic wind went by 
 Murmuring in melody— 
 Then—ah then I would awake 
 To the terror of the lone lake. 
 Yet that terror was not fright, 
 But a tremulous delight— 
 A feeling not the jewelled mine 
 Could teach or bribe me to define— 
 Nor Love—although the Love were thine. 
 Death was in that poisonous wave, 
 And in its gulf a fitting grave 
 For him who thence could solace bring 
 To his lone imagining— 
 Whose solitary soul could make 
 An Eden of that dim lake. 
Edgar Allan Poe 

The Master of the Macabre Edgar Allan Poe Certainly does paint A picture of water we all know I'll know in his poem simply titled The Lake. The lake is beautiful enchanting, and endearing by day and mysterious and dark at night. Poe plays on the fondness and thrill of this serene and wild place. But then haunts us later as he describes his "delight" at waking to "the terror on the lone lake."
But what else would expect from this writer who has been fighting us with scary tales such as the Ravin, Murder in Rouge Morgue, and The Telltale Heart?
And while the location of Poe's dedication remains unidentified. Historians have suggested, Poe could have written the poem about Lake Drummond, a lake outside Norfolk, Virginia, also known as the Great Dismal Swamp. One of only two natural lakes in Virginia, Lake Drummond offers a jungle atmosphere of lush and beautiful scenery and dark waters of unsolved mysteries.
Poe is said to have visited the lake and possibly could have been inspired by the lake's creepy history.
According to legend, the lake is haunted by the supernatural canoeing spirits of two star-crossed lovers and the ghostly Lady of the Lake. 
Edgar Allan Poe
First, it's the tragic story of a young Native American couple who lost their lives on the lake. The young woman had died on their wedding day. Mad with grief, the young man has a vision of her paddling her canoe in the distance. He fashions together a raft that comes apart while on the lake and drowns while attempting to reach her. It is said that at night one can see this ghostly bride and groom floating together in the moonlight.
Over the years, many have also claimed to see the Lady of the Lake paddling a white canoe holding a firefly lamp.
Could Poe have heard these tales to inspire his poem or perhaps have seen them for himself? The answer is unknown. But what we do know is folklore has a way of spilling into our waterways, especially after dark.
So whether you're courageous or skeptical, here are a few of our nation's haunted waters you just might want to paddle (if got the nerve) this Halloween or anytime for your chance to see a ghost.

Saco River, New Hampshire & Maine 
The Saco River is a popular recreational river that draws canoeists and kayakers across the northeast. While there are a few rapids, for most of its 136 miles, it's steady, calm, and it's cursed. Most of the locals have already heard the story that dates back to 1675. It's been told, three white-drunken sailors were rowing upriver when they came upon a Native American pregnant woman and her young son in a canoe. According to the story, the sailors believing in a myth that all baby natives could swim, attacked the canoe, grabbed the baby, and much to the horror of the child's mother, tossed the baby into the river. The infant sank, and the mother dove in and retrieved him. However, it was enough, and the baby and pregnant mother would tragically die not long afterward.
Saco River
As it turned out, the husband and father of the baby was the chief of a local tribe by the name of Squando. He was in despair and rage at the death of his pregnant wife and his young son. The incident would soon ignite violence between the tribe and white settlers. But Squando would conjure a more sinister type of vengeance. He asked the spirits to lay a curse over the waters of Saco saying, the river would "claim three lives a year until all white men fled its banks" to replace the lives of the three lost that day.
For the record, there are no official records of drownings and deaths on the Saco River, but locals swear that “Curse of the Saco River” is real and do not go near the river in fear of the ominous prophecy. Skeptics say it's just an old superstition. They say the river can be dangerous because it flows through many deep gorges with stronger currents. Over time accidents are bound to happen. However, in 1947 the Maine Sunday Telegram proclaimed that the curse was broken with the headline, "Saco River Outlives Curse of Indian Chief," after no deaths were reported that year.
Squandro eventually made his peace with the whites, but he never rescinded his curse. News of deaths is still reported during the summer months as the curse still looks for victims up and down the length of the Saco River.

Pocantico River, New York
The Pocantico River in western New York was made famous by Washington Irving's Halloween classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ever since people have been keeping a keen out for the Headless Horseman. Who, as the story said, would ride alongside the river looking for hapless victims.
The Pocantico is a nine-mile-long tributary of the Hudson River following an urban setting, But even today, it has a dark and unnerving nature. "The Pocantico winds its wizard stream among the mazes of its old Indian haunts, sometimes running darkly in pieces of woodland," wrote Irving.
He had obviously had heard the tales surrounding the Old Dutch Church, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and Spook Rock to inspire his story of the Headless Horseman. 
Pocantico River
Spook Rock, sit on the east­ern side of Rock­e­feller State Park, next to the Saw Mill River Park­way. Just its name conjures up ghosts. The his­tory of Tar­ry­town tells the leg­end of the Lady in White who haunts the rock after dying in a snow­storm. It's said you can still hear her cries of the howl­ing of the wind and see her ges­tures to warn of impending winter storms.
It also tells of the ghost of a colo­nial girl, who jumped to her death there to escape a Tory raider dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion. As well as the heartbreaking tale of Star Girl the spirit of an In­dian girl who roams the area lament­ing her death of for her lover and son.
It is said that even to­day, on a quiet spring night, one can stand on the banks of the Pocan­tico River and still hear Star Girl cry­ing out for her lover and child.

The Tar River, North Carolina
Known as a river for large catfish and kayak fishing, but if you encounter The Tar River Banshee and live, you'll tell a different tale of the one that got away.
The Tar River meanders past the farm fields and small towns for some 200 miles through the northeast part of North Carolina toward the estuary of Pamlico Sound. The river gets its name when the British Navy used the area's dense longleaf pine forests to provide much of the tar, turpentine, and pitch needed for shipbuilding. The name stuck when it became a major shipping route for tar-laden barges transporting goods throughout the colonies and abroad. 
Tar River
It's also about that time when the legend of the river's banshee, was spawned. It was during the Revolutionary War when British soldiers gunned down an Irish miller on the banks of the river. His crime, supplying aid to the patriot militia and not being loyal to the crown. As the water turned red with the Irishman's blood, he swore his revenge on the soldiers. He told them that they would be visited by a Banshee, a wailing and shrieking messenger of death. They shot him again, and he disappeared under the murky brown water.
Later that night, true to the Irishman's words, the British soldiers were awakened by the sorrowful wailing of the Banshee, the female apparition told them they did not have long to live and, they would soon all die in battle. And Not long after, the soldiers were all shot and killed in a skirmish with North Carolina militiamen.
Area folklore says the Tar River Banshee still roams the river shore. To this day, anyone unlucky enough to wade into the waters where the Irishman died so long ago, will be visited by the Banshee, who will wail her sorrowful song into the night and foretell their deaths.

The Wolf River, Tennessee
One would think that a section of the Wolf River in west Tennessee fittingly called the “Ghost river.” would be haunted, and you would be right. The Wolf River is a paddling favorite. The river is known for beautiful pristine and unspoiled countryside that meanders through bottomland hardwood forests, cypress-tupelo swamps, and open marshes. One missed sign on the 8-mile Ghost River canoe trail, and you could find yourself hopelessly lost drifting the cool and dark swampy waters shaded among spooky 100-foot moss-draped cypress tree on a river with no current. Some suggest that this eerie stop of flow is how the river section got its name. Others, however, point to the river's forlorn history. A Native American scout vanished without a trace in these waters in 1682. While on December 4, 1863, Union and Confederate forces clashed in a desperate struggle on a railroad bridge over the river. 
Wolf River
Pvt. Augustus Hurff of the 6th Illinois Cavalry described what happened, "We had no sooner crossed the bridge than were fired upon from ambush. This threw our forces into a panic. They forced us back to the river; we were ordered to draw our sabers and charge... but the rebels were reinforced. We dismounted and fought as infantry. Many of our horses were shot in the river, as were a great number of our men. The rivers seemed like running blood instead of water."
In the disorienting maze of willow, cypress, and tupelo, you will have to figure out on your own how the Ghost River section got its name. Is it because the river seems to get lost while running through a swamp? Or as others claim, because they still see ghosts of Civil War soldiers wandering about the shores.

Chicago River, Illinois
You will be traveling through the heart of the Windy City when paddling down the Chicago River. Looking up, you will find yourself surrounded by Chicago's legendary skyline. However, while gazing into the river's dark waters, you might see a strange reflection that is not your own staring back and possibly hear sounds of Screams, moans and splashes coming over the calm waters. Local paranormalists say without a doubt, they are the ghosts of the sinking of the SS Eastland.

The Eastland Disaster on the Chicago River 

The morning of July 24, 1915, passengers were boarding the Eastland for a summertime excursion at a dock in downtown Chicago when the ship began listing on the starboard side. To correct the imbalance, the ship’s crew let water into the ship’s ballast tanks. Only to have the vessel began listing again, this time on the port side. By this time, the boat had reached its limit of 2,500 passengers. Minutes later, the ship began taking on water. The vessel drifted away from the dock. At approximately 7:30 AM, the Eastland rolled onto its side. Onlookers were horrified as hundreds of people began to drown before their eyes.
"I looked across the river," reported one witness, "As I watched in disoriented stupefaction a steamer large as an ocean liner slowly turned over on its side as though it were a whale going to take a nap. I didn’t believe a huge steamer had done this before my eyes, lashed to a dock, in perfectly calm water, in excellent weather, with no explosion, no fire, nothing. I thought I had gone crazy."
On the upper deck, the panicking passengers, many holding children, spilled into the river. While below deck, other passengers were crushed by heavy furniture as the water poured inside the capsized ship.
Despite the Eastland being in just 20 feet of water and just a few yards from shore, its sinking killed 844 people, ranking it as one the worst maritime disasters in American history. It was among the city’s deadliest catastrophes. Hundreds of more died in the Eastland disaster than in the Chicago fire of 1871.
For years now, people have sensed paranormal activity along the river. Pedestrians on a river walk stroll have heard what sounds like a loud commotion coming from the water. Screams and splashes accompany the murmurer of a large number of people are floundering around in the water. Of course, they look to the river, and the water is perfectly calm. Some have seen a large wash of water suddenly overflow the area, while others have been shocked to see the ghost-like reflections staring back at them from the depths of the Chicago River.

Medina River, Texas
It is hard to scare Texans. But the tale of the Donkey Lady Bridge over the Medina River south of San Antonio for over a century has had them shaking in their boots. The Medina River is one of the gentlest rivers in the Texas Hill Country. Paddlers will enjoy amazing views and face very few hazards while journeying down this 120-mile waterway, that is until they approach the Donkey Lady Bridge. "It is extremely scary, very frightening. It's the most haunted places of ALL haunted places," wrote one visitor. 

The Donkey Lady Bridge
In one of Texas' legendary ghost stories, it's told that a man went mad and murdered all of his children and set his nearby farmhouse on fire. Escaping the house, the wife ran away, burning alive and throwing herself over the bridge into the water to extinguish the flames. Her body was left horribly disfigured. Her face was charred, and her hands had been melted into hoof-like stumps of a donkey. Over the years, she has become one of Texas' most terrifying apparitions in all of Texas.
Witnesses have report screeches, screams, and the sound of braying coming from the bridge.  Others have said they were attacked by the menacing specter while driving over the bridge. It has been told that the Donkey Lady would jump on the hoods of cars, leaving dents and broken windshields behind.
Since the bridge has been converted pedestrian bridge as part of the Medina River Green Way Trail System, but paddlers still might consider crossing under the bridge.

Missouri River, Nebraska
Blackbird Hill is a distinctive 300-foot-high landmark on the west side of the Missouri River in northeastern Nebraska. It was well known to river travelers throughout the 19th century. In 1804, Lewis and Clark climbed the rise to visit the grave of an Omaha chief, while famed frontier artists George Catlin and Karl Bodmer painted it in the 1830s. Traditional Native American accounts say that Chief Big Elk is buried at the site. It is also said to be haunted by the spirit of a young woman who was murdered on the hill more than a century and a half ago.
According to local folklore, a young couple fell in love and agreed to marry. But first, the boy had to make his fortune, promising her he would return for her. But after years of waiting, the young girl finally gave up, thinking her husband-to-be was dead. She married another man and settled atop Blackbird Hill.

Blackbird Hill by Karl Bodmer

 As the story goes, it was years later when the former lovers were once again reunited, when the young man came looking for her on the banks of the Missouri River. Overjoyed to see him, she confessed that she had never stopped loving him and only married another because she thought he was dead. Surely, it was fate that brought the long-lost lovers back together. She told him that she would go home to tell her husband that she wanted out of their marriage, so they could leave together in the morning.
When the girl returned to the cabin, she explained the situation to her husband, saying she did not love him and intended to leave him to marry her first love. At first, the husband begged her to stay. But when she refused, he went into a bitter rage and attacked her with his hunting knife. Mortally wounding her and with nothing to live for, he carried her to the cliff of the hill overlooking the river and leaped with her into the river far below. The woman’s death scream pierced the air until it was silenced by the muddy waters of the Missouri River. The young lover witnessed the couple tumble and drowning in the river, and he also became a victim as he later died of a broken heart.
A century and a half later, the river no longer touches the base of the hill Blackbird Hill, but the young woman’s restless soul remains. According to the legend, on October 17th the anniversary of the murder-suicide, the woman’s chilling screams can be heard at the top of the hill. Over the years, dozens of people reportedly have heard her cries of terror.

The Colorado River, Lake Mead & Hoover Dam, Nevada and Arizona
The massive concrete arch-gravity Hoover Dam spanning the Colorado River is an American icon. It's 660 feet thick at its base, over sixty stories tall, and over 1,200 feet wide. It supplies both significant amounts of hydroelectric power and irrigation water to the southwest United States.  Many maintain that the dam is haunted by the workers who lost their lives while building the colossal structure.
Built during the height of the Great Depression between 1931 and 1935. It's said, some 112 people died during its construction. The deaths were all typical industrial accidents such as drowning, most common in dam construction, being struck by equipment or debris, and of course, accidental falls. A traditional story often told says that a few of those killed fell into the concrete while it was being poured and now encased the dam itself. While a popular myth, it isn't true. Experts say having human bodies mixed within the concrete would make the dam structurally unsound. 

Hoover Dam by Ansel Adams
However, the construction company said 42 workers not listed in the body count died of pneumonia. Most think that they actually perished from carbon monoxide poisoning while operating vehicles inside the diversion tunnels, and the company made up the pneumonia story to avoid any lawsuits.
No matter what the actual number of people who died may be, many think the dam is a harborage for all the lost souls. Dam workers and visitors have reported experiencing temperature drops in hallways and flickering lights and hearing footsteps in empty corridors of the Hoover Dam facility. Some have even been startled by the creepy apparition of men dressed in old-fashioned worker's clothing wandering the area. 
This year, with Lake Mead forecast to be at 34 percent of full capacity, the lowest level since the completion of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, the lake too is a ghost of what it should be. 

Pinto Lake, California
Native American legends, a history of tragic drownings, and an unsolved murder plague this Northern California lake. Add in a paranormal activity along with massive algal toxin blooms will only add to the creepiness of Pinto Lake. 
Pinto Lake
Pinto Lake is a 120-acre recreational lake in Watsonville, CA. It's a great place to bring your kayak or canoe for an afternoon float, but according to the local folklore, you might want to be off the water after the sunsets. Allegedly it was an old Native American burial ground. Over the years, both artifacts and remains have been found in and around the lake. Some believe the spirits of those Indians still reside along the banks.
Over time several drownings have also taken place at the lake. Many think these lost souls walk the shore after dark. It's said, the apparition of the young woman in a white nurse's uniform dating back to World War II.  In the 1970s four locals, all claimed to have seen the phantom nurse from across the lake.
 “Talk about being scared," reported one witness, "This silhouette of this girl chased us all the way until we got out. We swore never again to be caught there after dark.” 
However, the ghost of whom some people think is Bonnie Brashers will send shivered down anyone's spine. In 1973, Bonnie, a local housewife, and mother of nine went out for a walk along Pinto Lake and never returned. Her husband was the main suspect in disappearance yet never was charged for her murder since her body was never found. Many believe, Bonnie was murdered by her husband. They say, he threw her body in the murky waters of the lake.  Her ghost now roams the shores there on occasion seeking justice and waiting for her body to be finally found to solve the mystery. 

So what do you believe? Are these just good old-fashion ghost stories passed down over the years?
Or are there really haunting spirits out there at the edge of the water?
Whatever you believe, these tales have intertwined with the history and folklore of these waterways. They have captured our imaginations and can provide us, that is if you’re feeling especially brave, a spooky paddling adventure where you can go see for yourself. But, only if you dare.

Happy Halloween

Keep up with Outside Adventure to the Max, on our Facebook page and Instagram, and now on Youtube.

Friday, October 22, 2021


The 5th annual Glow Paddle on California State Park's Lake Natoma is slated for this weekend, weather permitting. It will give a chance for paddlers to once again try to outdo each other, as they illuminated their canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards with colorful lights and decorations during the annual paddling event.
In the past, the unofficial Glow Paddle has been held in conjunction with the Folsom Parks & Recreation Department's annual Glow Event. The walk/ run is a family-friendly, non-competitive run/walk for all ages where participants have dressed up in costumes that glowed, blinked, sparked, and shined along the route. The neon shining walkers and runners decked out with glow sticks, glow glasses, glow necklaces lit up the trail from Folsom's Historic District, across the walk bridge over Lake Natoma, through the Negro Bar unit of the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, and back again.
However once again the Covid-19 pandemic has doused the official Glow Event for the second year in a row. Once again, the paddling community is generating the power to keep it going.
"Who knew this activity would become so popular?" Glow Paddle organizer Tim Senechal wrote on Facebook, "Two years ago we had 30 participants, then last year 150. This year one group had 400 participants take part at their glow paddle, and multiple groups seem to do evenings every week."

To help you enjoy the magical experience of a glow paddle, here are three tips to get you shining on the water.
Number 1, Lights, lights, lights, and more lights. That's right, the whole object is that lighten up your kayak or paddleboard like a Christmas tree. The more lights the better. Remember Danny DeVito in the Christmas movie Deck the Halls? He wanted to make it his house seen from space. That should be your glow goal. Now, while it might hard to make out your floating SUP from space. You should at least be bright enough to be seen from the top of the bridge while floating under it.
Forget glow sticks. They are just not bright enough. Bring plenty of battery-powered lights from any hardware store, that have a Christmas section and tape to attach them to your craft and light up the night.
Number 2, Think Safety. Safety is always first, so don't forget your PFD. That is the most important thing to be wearing when you're on the water.
It's going to be dark when you're gonna get off the water, so make sure your boat is not the only thing that glows. Bring a headlight or flashlight to help you get out of the boat when loading up. It also will help you see the beach when exiting your craft.
Number 3, Have Fun.
This is a fun social event to celebrate the paddling community. Don't plan on working out or paddling hard. Just float around and enjoy the ingenuity of the other paddler's light shows on the water.

Keep up with Outside Adventure to the Max, on our Facebook page and Instagram, and now on Youtube.

Thursday, October 14, 2021


Far below, the river frothed and flowed over pebbly shallows, or broke tumultuously over boulders and cascades, in its race for the great valley they had left behind. ---Jack London

There is no better way to get away from it all than to get out on the water on a long-distance kayak trip down the upper part of the Sacramento River. The upper reaches of the river is a paddler's paradise with fast and dependable flows, changing scenery with views of Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak, and a sense of serenity while floating along on California's longest river.
Last week, while scouting out a trip for next year for the faith-based Sacramento group Bayside Adventure Sports, we paddled the 11-mile section of the river from Mill Creek Park near Los Molinos to Tahema County River Park and Woodson Bridge State Park Recreation Area about 20 miles north of Chico.

While it certainly isn't the most complicated section of the river, it does offer an ideal way for beginners to experience paddling the river. While it had a few ripples, we mostly just dodged a lot of submerged tree stags along the way. Still, the river's clear water pushed us along briskly around each bend. We weaved under only two highway bridges at the beginning and end of this semi-remote section of the river. We nodded and waved to fishermen along the way and also saw our share of turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, and two promenade colonies of pelicans.
The put-in and the take-out were uncrowded for our October trip on the river when most recommend paddling is best, escaping the summer heat. 
"It was really nice. It was fun. It was exciting. It was everything you expect on a river trip. I can't wait to come back next year and do this with a bunch of people because it was so much fun," said Bayside Sports Paddling leader John Taylor. 

Keep up with Outside Adventure to the Max, on our Facebook page and Instagram and now on Youtube.


Friday, October 1, 2021


Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.” – Humbert Wolfe

On the crisp fall day of last year, every paddle stroke sprinkled water drops, reflecting the sun like sparklers across the still backwaters of Lake Natoma. Autumn, without any doubt, is one season you don't want to miss visiting the lake. The weather is cooler, the summer crowds are gone, and the placid waters reflect images of lusters.
Contemporary Turkish writer Mehmet Murat Ildan wrote, “Dancing of the autumn laves on a surface of a lake is a dream we see when we are awake.” 
It does seem like we were in a fantasy land of colors. Bright reds and yellows set a dazzling display along the banks of the lake mingled among the faded clumps of iris and shriveled blackberries that still clung to the vine.
My party of kayakers glided almost effortlessly through the meandering watery path past islands, through narrow channels, and into silent still ponds part of the Folsom SRA near Sacramento, California.
Ducks, geese, and deer are at home here despite being so close to an urban setting. Our slow speed, quiet nature, and ability to access these shallow waters in our kayaks made it ideal for viewing wildlife. We do our best to keep a distance and not disturb them as they bed down for the evening. Some creatures, however, had no intention of heading back to their burrow.  Excellent swimmers, the beavers are nocturnal creatures who remain partially submerged as we quietly paddled near them. Sensing our presents, they scoot away before using their flat, scaly tail to signal danger with a giant slap of the water.
After weeks of smoke-filled and hazing skies, the sky was so blue and the air so fresh we wanted to drink it in and make it last. In the serenity of the sloughs rounded ponds, we were thrilled to be in the luster of the autumn sun and brilliant shades of crimson leaves at the end of our day.

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

Keep up with Outside Adventure to the Max, on our Facebook page and Instagram and now on Youtube.