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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Waterfalls and wildflowers greet spring kayakers

The falls at Jenkinson Lake -- a popular destination for hikers and paddlers in April 

‘Tis the season for waterfalls and wildflowers. April usually brings a boatload of scenic kayaking to Northern California, and Jenkinson Lake was the destination this year. Some NorCal Yak pals led a recent Sunday paddle to a beautiful waterfall at this well-maintained, multi-use recreation area near Pollock Pines.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Paddlers escape a gooey death at Drakes Estero

Bogged-down blogger rescued by Jorge and Valerio, and not a moment too soon (Tom Gomes photo)
One of my more harrowing kayak trips occurred recently on Drakes Estero near Point Reyes – but not in the water. Not on dry land either, and that was the problem. A fave phrase of mine, “We cheated death again,” became “We cheated gooey death.”

It happened at the end of a beautiful day of paddling on a 14-mile tour of this spectacular
estuary within a national seashore. It’s named for Sir Francis Drake, an English explorer

The goo really didn't want to let NorCal Yak pal Karen go (Tom Gomes photo)
 who made a pit stop here in 1579. Today, it’s known for incredible scenery, scads of seals and waterfowl, and a venerable oyster farm – at least for the moment. But first things first.

We launched from a beach next to Drakes Bay Oyster Company on a mild, breezy Saturday. Went out with the ebb tide and returned about six hours later with a couple of nice beach

Monday, January 27, 2014

Endless summer, frozen mist launch kayak season

Strings of natural "pearls" -- ice drops -- drape the shore of the Albion River

This seems to be a year of endless summer in Northern California. Perfect for kayakers, except the paddling recipe always includes the phrase, “add water.” So NorCal Yak will be dishing up more kayaking venues to counter this infernal drought.
Mendocino County fits the bill. Although earlier this month, a trip up the Albion River produced some weird weather of its own. Highs were in the mid-60s for several days, so we

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

7 New Year’s resolutions for a kayaker

New Year's Day reflections near the Port of Sacramento 
1.  Never paddle fast when slow and smooth will do.
2.  Learn something new about nature, and treasure it.
3.  Paddle somewhere you’ve never gone before.
4.  Work with the current more, fight it less.
5.  Take more tours under moon and starlight.
6.  Introduce a friend to kayaking.
7.  Paddle more often – because time, like water, slips through your fingers.