Memorial Day Weekend (not the Eel)


A River with Water

5/22/15 Indian Creek Lodge 11pm

John M. and I got rolling toward Weaverville from my Castro Valley home a little after our noon plan, but at quarter past one the traffic was light on this Friday of the Memorial Day weekend. We were ahead of commuters, and of most weekend vacationers, but not all. As 680 neared 80 by Suisun, the distance between bumpers shrunk, and the odometer showed no speed. When we finally crawled onto 80, we were ready to exit.

John typed in “Winters” and selected “non-highway” for route.

“Take Exit 43.” announced the phone.

It was just ahead and we turned onto it. Immediately we shifted from stopped to speeding. Until a red traffic light appeared. It wasn’t the last, but there were welcome gaps in between as we rolled between Fairfield suburbs and woods just north of 80. We were happy. The views were good and motion constant. Sometimes these things aren’t about getting there faster, just about being sane and happy upon arrival.

Then our road turned away from town and we saw signs for Lake Solano, ten miles distant. Now there was no traffic and we often topped 50. Plus we were in the country, passing farms, fields and vineyards we’d never seen before. If we’d had champagne, we would’ve toasted Google.

Crossing Putah Creek we saw boats and discussed returning with ours and our grandkids. They’d put up with a two hour drive.

We stopped briefly in Winters, then drove without traffic to Redding and on to Weaverville where we entered Marino’s Italian restaurant well before their 8 o’clock closing.

5/23/15 about 8pm, a grassy strip about 10 miles downriver from Lewiston

For the 17 of us to be on this remote stretch of scenic river with our nine boats, ten gallons of home water and food and lodging for two days and nights is a miracle that deserves very honorable mention. Eric and Amy doing their first trip have done a fabulous job putting together this biggest trip of the year. They credit Don for making the vital change from the Eel, flowing at about 200cfs, to this Trinity beside us which is moving ten times that much water. We put-in at 1:45, took out by 4:30. Our average speed was 5.5 mph, and our highest rate over 9, according to Don’s GPS. And Don came up a week ago to scout and found this fine site. Thank You, Don!

Part of the logistics was the shuttle. Six of the seven vehicles we needed to get all our bodies and boats to the put-in were driven down to Junction City via a new to us road to Highway 3 and then through Weaverville and parked as usual high up on the take-out beach across from the county park. Getting out of his red VW Dave uttered several expletives. He had just secured his car with one of the family steering wheel locks. One his key didn’t fit. His beautiful car could now not be driven by thieves, or him.

In Don’s packed Toyota lively discussion ensued. Dave called home and laid out the dilemma and the possible solution of wife Debbie or son Eric making the 10 hour round trip to bring the right key. Both were sympathetic, but neither volunteered to spend their holiday in that way. These locks, several of us knew, could be quickly cut with a grinder, at least one connected to an outlet. But the campground was some hundreds of feet away.

In Weaverville we detoured to the True Value hardware store where a likely and reasonable option was presented. For under a hundred dollars Dave could buy a battery-powered Sawsall and 3 carbide blades that would cut the hardened steel, according to the hardwareman. It was not certain the tool would make the cut in the 15 minutes its one battery, which the store would charge before Dave picked it up on Monday, provided. So Dave might need to get more than one shuttle between beach and store, for recharging. We decided to check with the local locksmith, too.

His shop/antiques store was on our way back and required a very brief visit. On its closed door were its Monday-Friday hours. None on weekends. And probably not on holiday Mondays. we assumed.   Well, we had a workable plan, but things at the take-out might get complicated.

Here at our first campground spirits are high. Ruthie and Arvid laugh as they fight playfully. The 2000 cfs lap loudly among the shoreline rocks and willows. Campfire conversation carries like a warble. The general generosity even extends to the few drought-stricken mosquitoes, Some suggest we just let them enjoy their small meals. Most continue to slap.

5/24/15 Steel Bar Campsite

All of us around the campfire have just learned a new paddling acronym. We now know there was an OBE today during our paddle past Indian Creek and Douglas City. Those familiar with this stretch from our Fall Trinity trips recognized the scenery today, though the landscape was greener and dotted with wildflowers, but the river was new – with trains of huge waves where there’d before been ripples. Several times we stopped to return hundreds of pounds of water to the river – from each boat.

With one exception there were no OBE’s. “It was almost pleasant.” Lena says, with laughter in her eyes and voice.

“There was this big boulder that we went close to and then tipped over. It was very gentle. I was afraid of hitting a rock, like with my head, but I remembered to keep my feet first. I also kept hold of my paddle and the boat, which I stayed behind.”

Neil added a little more of the set-up, as he saw it from the stern. “There were a lot of rocks and we tried to cross through them toward river left. We hit that boulder with our nose and spun around so we were going backwards, then went up on it and flipped.”

With Neil and Lena’s spill revisited, we moved on to the adventure awaiting Dave at the take-out with someone announcing, “You know, I’m not sure those carbide blades will cut that hardened steel, and those sawzalls go through batteries awfully fast.” So we don’t know if or how fast the cutting will go, but Jan has agreed that she and Ruthie will shuttle Dave up to Weaverville to get the tool and blades. At least once.

There’s one more development that I think I can get down before sleep, as it may adversely affect that sleep.

While I lay in the shade of willows near the kitchen before dinner, about to nap, I heard a strange for this area sound. It was the thump, thump, thump of a helicopter’s rotor. It was there again on awaking. Excited paddlers were watching it dip its bucket into the river just downstream, then flying off toward 299, the area where there have been recent big fires.

This continued until about sunset.

“They can only fly with visual guidance.” said Don, a safety expert.

So it wasn’t a surprise that the chopper, followed by another, soon headed off toward Redding. But it was a worry. We all had hoped they’d leave when the job was done, not just because of the rules. Common sense, and firey imaginations, suggest that flames may now be racing up nearby canyons, soon to engulf our remote, cell signalless camp.

Not exactly the peaceful refuge we expected.

5/25/15 Dunnigan Rest Area

When I looked out of my tent in the middle of the night I saw no red glow, nor smelled any smoke.

Don asked that we be on the river this morning by 10. Yesterday we broke camp at 10:30. John looked at his watch as the last boat left Steel Bar. “9:15.”

The paddle to the take out was calm and lovely. There was no excitement until people walked up to their cars and found their gas caps on the roofs, their doors unlocked, and some windows broken. We’ve parked in this place every Fall for many, many years without incident. We likely won’t park here again.

Some lost cash, a tablet and other prized possessions. We later learned that the thieves broke into cars along a long stretch of the river. It was an unhappy conclusion to a very fun trip. Much was said on the beach and via e-mail as we worked through our pain.

On the positive side, the carbide Sawzall blade zipped right through the ears of Dave’s Club, and since the thieves didn’t want his diesel, he, too, soon joined the homeward drive.

Eric R.

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#3 of Three Overdue Posts From the Fall (2014)

This is far out of date but there is useful info about Skunk Point so I thought I would send it out anyway…

Trinty River Labor Day 2014

by Robert Neff

Here are a couple of notes that give a flavor of the trip. We had a trip on Skunk Point to French Creek (class 2-) every day. A second trip on Hayden -> Cedar on Sunday, and 4 intrepid boaters (Jan, Jake,John, and Jobert) on Pigeon Point on Monday.

Driving shuttles was short! Jan told me she had 40 miles of shuttle mileage for the weekend!

Skunk Point was a nice campground for POST, especially since nobody else occupied the 2nd group camp there, and we could spread out. No water, but not far to water, and we know how to deal with that. There were worries about smoke, but air quality was excellent until Monday, when we could see some from the Klamath fires. Easy access from the camping area down to the water, and views of the night sky.

Water was very cold for swimming, but plentiful for boating, and the water quality was good with the high flows

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# Two of Three Overdue Posts From Last Fall (2014)

This is a trip report that is going to take off on a related, but for some readers, irrelevant tangent. But before eddying out let’s look at some mid-river subjects, like Scotty’s Donuts on 120 in Modesto. These days, when all paddlers provide their own transportation to the put-in, there are surely some who don’t stop at Scotty’s. Back when Bill Hitchings was driving the POST van on our annual trip to the Toulumne, we all pulled into Scotty’s. I heartily embrace such traditions, however unhealthy, and stopped Saturday morning. Mine was the only canoe in the lot, and it didn’t stay long. I dunked my buttermlk bar carefullly, as I drove on.

Google predicted I’d arrive at 9, and I did. So I was ontime. My time. I assumed it was the common time. But when, as I reached the turn-off to the campground, two vehicles with familiar canoes pulled out and headed toward La Grange, I followed. Good thing.

“Oh, you made it.” folks hollered out from under their boats and burdens on the dusty country lane. Quite quickly I threw my gear onto the ground and drove back to park across from the grocery/liquor store up on the highway. Unless you arrived in a tank, you wouldn’t leave it down by the river. People used to. We no longer choose to support the local economy so directly.

The day was sunny and warm and soon our little fleet was weaving down the river in clusters and singles. It is such a delicious treat to step into the canoe, settle down, then, with so little effort, cause this elegant craft to turn and scoot out into the current. Cars are perfectly wonderful, but the waterworld we access on these little pods is so much more sensual, with us in the middle of the sunlight, the breezes and when we need it most, the shade.

And then there’s conversation. Much easier to talk openly with a fellow paddler, than another driver. And talk we do. My favorite topic on this gorgeous day was Ebola. In college biology I learned that populations are naturally controlled by famine, stress and disease. I’ve had some curiosity lately about the possibility our human, as well as the planets, extreme stresses might be on the road to relief via this lively excaped virus. So I paddled alongside Pat and Eilleen and inquired.

Pat, a professional pathologist, said he’s been following Ebola for years. It seems likely that the virus is endemic in bats, which in Africa tend to be much larger than ours. Big enough for a meal. Cases of Ebola have often occured in charcoal-gatherers, men who go out into remote places to gather and burn wood. And may shelter in bat-filled caves. The outbreaks have been small in part because they happened in the small villages these men return to, and burn out by killing all their victims. Among bats the symptoms are surely not as fatal. Maybe just indigestion. Similarly, this new strain, while killing most victims, leaves many people alive. And those that die live long enough to contaminate others.

The great thing is that its transmitted only by fluids. Pat affirmed this trait makes Ebola controllable. “I’m not worried.” he concluded. Nor am I, now.

With Ebola no longer threatening, the day grew lovlier. By the way, if you do find yourself in the company of someone with Ebola, don’t rub your eyes. That moist tissue is where the virus often starts a new infestatiion, said Pat.

The best place for a canoe to get through a rapid is, of course, the “Y.” Isn’t it a delight to slip through those? Not so smooth on the Toulumne were the too shallow spots we sometimes hit. Fortunately for the rest of us, newcomers Laura and Allison were paddling a Grumman that gave a wonderfully audible grinding alarm whenever it touched bottom.

The warm sun was a treat, except when it once in awhile doubled up, hitting us both from above, and reflected up from the glassy water. Just after one of those oven experiences, we paddled into the fern grotto. Ecstasy!

Pleasures continued off the river as Bob and Joan refused to let us do anything but enjoy their delicious meal.

After breakfast Sunday morning Eric Forsman was talking fishing with campground host Eddie, the ex-firechief of Ceres, and a big, red-faced guy who’d come in on a motorcycle. By this time our campsite had cleared as most drove over to Knights Ferry to run Russian Rapids. But we Erics planned to head directly to our homes for less exciting activity. For a little while, though, we could talk fishing.

The big guy, Dan, teaches fly-fishing and gave us some tips. Eric promptly took his son Arvin down to the river with the two super compact poles he bought from Walmart on-lline for a mere $40 each. I left for home.

I got as far as the giant Outdoor World in Manteca. You see, on the river yesterday there were these two guys on kayaks casting lures in a huge eddy. They said they’d caught a lot of bass. Dan had told me about a sure-fire bass lure. It was here in the Bass Pro Shop.

The first clerk didn’t recognize the name, so he sent David to talk with me. What David showed me is only remotely related to the trip this report is about. As we all know POST doesn’t fish. David told me how to catch bass, something he did professionally for over thirty years. You could use his technique while on a canoe. But not on a POST trip.

What David showed and sold me was not shiny or fancy. Or expensive. What bass most like are worms: big, fat, long fake worms. This guy, who regularly hauled in more pounds of bass than any of the other experts he was competing with, knows how to serve up a worm. Just like in fine restaurants, presentation is everything. Briefly, without describing the special knots and their precise placement, what David does is to dangle the worm just above the bottom, jiggle it, and then jump it along back toward him. To keep the worm down there, he attaches a very clever weight that is unlikely to hang up in grasses or rocks, and if it does, can be quickly replaced. The rest of the rigging won’t also break off.

“I’ll bet you really feel it when those lunkers hit.” I offered.

“No, often the line just feels heavier.”

When this happens, to be sure the hook gets set before the fish spits out the imposter, David pulls the rod back sharply at resistance. Then there’s some action!

If that sounds like fun to you, let’s talk. I’ve got a bagful of worms and weights, just waiting for someone to say “Eric, let’s go fishing.” Is it you?

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One of Three Overdue Posts about Trips last Fall (2014)

ERIC’S TRINITY 2014 NOTES Putah Creek Cafe, Winters, 9/28/14, 7:40pm Eleven glasses here, still bearing the imprints of the six other paddlers, all who’ve finished their meals and continued homeward: David driving Peter toward the promised home refridgerator ice cream that made Pete happy to leave the treats of this table. Kit and Charlie soon to see their lively foreign student, and Kate and Alan wanting to get to BART before it shuts down at midnight. I was last to arrive, chew the slowest and am motivated to stay until I finish this story and the chocolate cake only Kate was willing to help me devour – only true chocolate lovers give such help after so ample a meal. This story is taking form thanks to our waitress who took my plea for paper to the office gal who brought me two freshly torn off sheets from her yellow pad. This restaurant, suggested by Dave, is great. We all enjoyed our varied meals, the paintings on the rustic wood walls, and the uncrowded, unnoisy room. And it’s only about 5 minutes off 505.

The good company, as on rivers, doubled its pleasures. Those river pleasures commenced for me around the cement picnic table Saturday morning at Steelbridge Campground where Eric, Amy and Arvid; Karen and Don and Neal Cassidy joined the restaurant gang for coffee and cereal. It was my first trip in this medically exciting year and I loved all the warm greetings. We all loved the relatively warm weather – no fingers went numb this trip. Maybe the general warmth deserves some of the blame that inspired Don to later, much later, from concern bred in miserable after-dark take-outs, observe “We’ve never put-in this late on this trip.” As lead boat, he helped keep us from such misery with his legendary paddling. There was only one nasty argument on this trip. It happened when someone said that Don had one time in his life flipped a boat. Ridiculous heresy! He and Karen certainly didn’t on this trip, nor did anyone in their elegant wake. Thanks to such good paddling and brief breaks, we all got to our Steel Snag campsite before the sun entirely left the beach, let alone the canyon.

Earlier in the day Neal voluntarily swam during a break, proving that the river wasn’t frigidly cold. I happened to arrive this year with mask, snorkel and fins, so as soon as the kitchen boats were hauled up and placed so dinner could be started, I went to work on a dream I’ve been trying to develop – to provide a fresh fish for our dinner. Last year some local fishermen cast their lines into the water right here. And we’d seen fins roiling in the upriver shallows. Were there any here? I followed Neil’s inspiration and jumped into the river above camp, hoping to discover just where the salmon and steelhead were lurking. The water was quite clear, and clearly devoid of lunkers or any other form of visible life, like crawdads. Only in the shallows just below camp did a large trout dart past me.

The best and most memorable part of my dive was when, about ten minutes after it, the sun reappeared from behind a cloud and bathed my shivering skin in still hot shine. That was my swim’s only sensory pleasure. Even though I’d seen no big fish, I still attached the new spinner bought in Weaverville mid-shuttle and cast across the river, after first working the near pool where the trout probably lives. Not surprisingly, the fish that weren’t there didn’t bite. Nor were they missed. About the time I would have begun cleaning my fantasy fish, Kit and Charlie began serving real sausage, potato and salad. Everybody ate with relish.

Next morning something usual happened. Charlie got up early, made coffee, then oatmeal, with Kit’s help. And everybody was happy. Thank you Kit and Charlie.

If you think I’ve been too profuse with my praise of Don, read on. I arrived at Steelbridge Friday night – no, early Saturday morning, towing the Subaru that was supposed to get me from Pendleton to Weaverville the Wednesday before. Instead, my car overheated on one of several mountains along 395 in far eastern Oregon due to, the local mechanic said, a blown head gasket. “Subaru’s are known for this.” he added. He would also have happily added several thousand dollars and many days to my trip, so I instead bought a fine pick-up from a more trusted local, and towed the car on a U-Haul trailer to the Trinity. It was, after all, my trip!

Thanks again to Charlie and Kit for doing all the actual work that made the trip such a success. Don was present during the shuttle when I dropped the trailer, by previous arrangement, in the employee parking lot of the Indian Creek Lodge just before Douglas City. On Sunday morning during oatmeal he suggested I look along the river for a 2×4 or similar size piece of lumber. He’d watched the jack of the trailer sink deep into the lot’s wet gravel and knew we wouldn’t be able to raise it to tongue height without a stronger substrate. That he had been puzzling over and trying to solve my problem touched me. I hugged him, then looked for 2x’s at every stop. Futilely.

Aways down the river, as sweep boat with Neal, I was surprised to round a bend and see Don and Karen pulled up on river left. They rarely stop for personal reasons and this was no beach where we could all get out and stretch. As Neal and I drew close, Don pointed to a long 4×4 freshly set atop his loaded boat. “This’ll do it.” he declared. It sure did. Back at the lodge parking lot when I returned after fetching my truck at Steelbridge, Don guided my backing up right to the trailer safely raised up well over the ball. In a moment the connecting was completed. Yes, it went on without a hitch, then all of us got on the road toward Putah Creek Cafe or straight home.

On my way back home I couldn’t help replaying a dramatic episode that almost dunked Neal and me at the beginning of the last stretch of river before our Sunday takeout. At this curve the river makes a sharp left and pushes boats hard towards a big boulder on its right edge. Two years ago, because my old legs got so stiff kneeling that I couldn’t quickly leave my boat to help with a rescue I decided to experiment. Could I, with years of experience, beat the natural law demonstrated in our first Richmond Plunge class, that sitting on the seat so raises ones center of gravity as to make tipping likely. The experiment was successful until I got to that rock, where I gracelessly flipped, emptying my solo boat of some gear that sank and was still visible last year. This year. forgetting the power of the river I, in the stern, turned too late, and Neal and I banged against the boulder. By the way, once again I was sitting on the seat. Not because I hadn’t learned to respect physics, but because the seats of Neal’s boat were too low for my feet to fit under them. On the positive side, they afforded a lower center of gravity. But not low enough to keep the boat from responding to the collision by tipping away from the rock and toward the onrushing water. Just before the inevitable over-the-gunnel deluge swamped us an old phrase appeared like a huge neon sign on my mind’s emergency warning screen: “KISS THE ROCK.” With no argument, resistance or thought of any kind, I obeyed. I leaned toward the boulder. My lips didn’t make contact, but my hand did. And as I leaned right, the canoes left side lifted above the about to rush in water, the boat leveled, and Neal and I stayed upright and mostly dry.

That “Kiss the rock.” emerged from my congested brain seems a miracle. But it also demonstrates the power of education. Like all POST paddlers, I’ve heard that expression many, many times. And I’ve used it in situations nowhere near as dicey as this one. So, I’ve been successfully educated. Once again, I’m grateful for POST and its emphasis on safety. And to Don, who later advised that we start such turns earlier. But kissing rocks sure kept that one wrong from becoming two. And that’s all right.

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Grand Ronde sing-a-long by Karen Jarrell

The river was ripping with pictures (1)

This is a Word Document trip report by Karen Jarrell

Worth the wait to download it.


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Memorial Weekend on the Eel River, CA

There were problems with my earlier attempts to share the PowerPoint presentation.

This is my next attempt. -Kit

Memorial 2014


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American River day trip – April 27

Alice & Friend LR 9298

San Juan Rapid  AM R_800 cfs Pan_CR_LR

San Juan Kate & Allen LR 9318

San Juan Kate & Allen LR 9317

San Juan canoes LR 9319

Don & Karen San Juan Rapid LR 9305

Cat Raft John Atkinson LR 9310

Alice & Friend LR 9299Charlie W and I wanted to take our raft out for a test drive since we hadn’t had it out for a couple of years and we are planning on going on a wilderness trip in June. We wanted company and help with the shuttle so we gathered a small group of very patient paddlers and had a wonderful, if short, day on the Sailor Bar to Rossmoor run. Charlie Pike came along and contributed these pictures. Kit

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