Friday, February 27, 2015

Get ready kayakers, bouquets are on the way

4/12 update: With few spring showers, wildflower season appears to be wilting quickly at lower elevations in Northern California. A paddle today from Rattlesnake Bar on the North Fork of the American today barely caught the end of the lupine bloom. If you've missed this spot, check out the photo album from today's trip -- which also reminded us to watch our step in the wild. This local resident slithered across the boat launch ramp as we returned to the parking lot. 
A pre-bloom day on the North Fork of the American 
How to improve a kayaking trip on a gorgeous spring day? Throw in a football-field-sized bouquet of wildflowers. Northern California paddlers can find some of the best floral displays anywhere in the nation, from poppies to paintbrush and irises to Crimson Columbine.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kayaking paradise found, then nearly lost to fire

Before the fire, a typical view of Slab Creek Reservoir along the south shoreline
There are many kayaking venues in Northern California with spectacular scenery, but perhaps only one where the view floats back and forth in time, right before a paddler's eyes. That would be Slab Creek Reservoir, near the El Dorado County town of Camino.

Slab Creek paddlers follow a green shoreline of timber that's stood untouched for perhaps a century. But only a few yards away on the opposite shore, deep scars run down the mountainside from an epic forest fire that scorched the Sierra just this fall.  It's a before-and-after panorama that is both incredible and unsettling.

After the fire, a swath of Slab Creek forestland burned on the north side (photo courtesy Paul K. Redd)
Today, the north side of Slab Creek offers glimpses of the devastating King Fire that destroyed thousands of acres of El Dorado National Forest. On the south side of this thin

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hands down, the most amazing kayak trend yet

Look for something unusual here -- and it's not that orange is the new black (photo by Cate Hawthorne)
Kayakers generally fall into two camps when it comes to paddles. There are European paddles (as shown in the blog title photo above), and there are Greenland paddles (below). It’s sort of like Microsoft and Apple – they do the same thing but have basic philosophical differences on how to make it happen. Paddlers may claim one is superior to the other. Until now.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sea otters, paddlers, PBS find a special environment

Sea otter dines casually in the surf off a Monterey beach
One of the best things about paddling is that it brings us closer to nature. Out on the water, we become part of our surroundings in a quiet, unobtrusive and personal way. Kayaks are an ideal vehicle for exploring a wild world that can’t be fully appreciated from shore. 

So it was with my very first kayaking experience six years ago, on Monterey Bay. Just floundering around in a rental sit-on-top when a sea otter nonchalantly paddled right by. Thick fur, expressive eyes, whiskers, playful personality – the whole animal kingdom package.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The essential guide for paddling Northern California

Charlie Pike explored Suisun Marsh for the second edtion of "Paddling California"

 If you are serious about exploring Northern California by kayak, there are four essential items: a kayak, a paddle, a PFD – and Charlie Pike’s guidebook. His new, revised edition of “Paddling Northern California” is now available, and it comes highly recommended.
Charlie, a Newcastle resident well-known in area paddling circles, published his first edition of the guide in 2001. The new edition updates and expands that work, has a nice layout and