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 your 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 is printed in full color. It’s a handsome, sturdy paperback chock full of detailed maps and info that I've found in no other guide.
Some time back, when Charlie was just getting started on the new edition, he took me

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How to find good summer paddling in a drought

Either there's an iceberg ahead, or some Lake Valley campers got carried away with s'mores

California kayakers looking for the best inland lakes this summer may feel like they’re marching across the proverbial desert – there’s a watering hole 50 miles away, but how dry will it be when they get there? Fortunately, the Web can help paddlers determine if the water is worth the drive.
Case in point : Lake Valley Reservoir, a small but picturesque Sierra lake near Yuba Gap,

Friday, May 30, 2014

More water this summer for American River kayaking

San Juan rapids will continue to provide good paddling through June 
6/25 update: Lower American flows still holding at about 2,000cfs this week.  

In the midst of an epic drought, here’s some good news for kayakers. The lower American River, one of the most popular waterways in Northern California, is now running at about 2,000 cubic feet per second – and should continue to do so through June. That translates to decent water for paddlers.

Responding to a NorCal Yak query, the federal Bureau of Reclamation confirmed that recent, higher flows will continue based on water quality needs in the Delta. (Read: excessive salinity.) So paddlers downstream from the river will benefit, too. And even in July and

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kayakers find purple paradise on American North Fork

It's a long walk to the waterline, and well worth it -- at least, on the way down
Just can’t get any better, we agreed as we paddled back toward Rattlesnake Bar on the North Fork of the American River. An ideal Easter Sunday kayak trip just above Folsom Lake. Perfect weather. Waves of purple lupine carpeting the hillsides. Sparkling, clear water. Nope, can’t get any better than this.

Then we heard rushing water and turned up Mormon Ravine to find the very picture of spring in Northern California. Meadows funneled into mini-rapids gushing into a secluded