Labor Day on the Trinity

I messed up and failed to post this on the POST Canoe Club wordpressblog. Jan, hope you don’t feel like I left you out on purpose. – Kit

After all that mishegass there was a trip on the Trinity. Apologies to Alan for all the trouble and uncertainty. I hope to hear from some of the Middle Fork paddlers and I wonder what other boating adventures happened over this weekend. I stayed home and the only water I swam in was a tiny swimming pool in the Berkeley Hills.  I guess you can see why Jan stopped leading the Labor Day trip a couple of years ago – its just too stressful. This year’s trip was only possible for her because its a short drive from Arcata and Jan’s willingness to take the chance on the drive. That’s something Alan, who lives in the bay area, didn’t have available to him…

From Jan D.
The flow was up. The air was clear. We missed our paddling friends.

The salmon were too hot, so the bureaucracies involved decided to give them water and let them live another year. The judge quickly acted to deny the water agencies request to save the water for crops. The Trinity has been flowing at 1150 cfs for a couple of weeks now. It should last for a couple more. For us whitewater boaters, that means the Trinity is the finest place to paddle in California. It just happens that 1150 cfs is a delightful flow on our favorite runs.

The lightening caused fires created a lot of smoke in the Burnt Ranch Gorge. The smoke traveled down the New River to the Trinity. Some days it blew upstream, Some days it blew downstream. Some days the wind roused enough to break the inversion layer, but many days the smoke kept accumulating. The air quality board issued daily warnings of unhealthy air for communities up and down the river. Then, rain came. It calmed the fires and broke the inversion layer. Some fires actually went out. The big fires blew back the way they came and found little fuel to burn. The air cleared. On Thursday and Friday before Labor Day, there were zero health advisories issued along the Trinity River.

My family decided to venture out to the Trinity and test the air. It was mildly smoky on Saturday between Hawkins Bar and Hayden Flat. Jake, Ruth, Yukon and I put on in the C1 and the Canyon. The flow was fun! Enough water to cover rocks, enliven waves and speed us along our way. The wind picked up a little early, but it mostly was noticed because it blew the smoke away. The air was a pleasant at 80 degrees. The water was a bit chilly. We stayed dry and appreciated not having to stop to drink water. Jake and I ran the tandem down the left side of Picket Fence. Jake paddles so fast these days that it felt like a roller coaster over the waves. He caught a lot of air in the bow. I did not bother to paddle and just steered whenever my paddle could reach the water.

Skunk Point remains a good campsite. The shade reaches it about 5 PM. The traffic on the road died down about 6 PM. It was fun to watch the fire crews use the parking lot as a rendezvous for several hours. The picnic tables along the cliff continue to have a splendid view of the river and the stars. There was bear scat on the beach, deer swimming across the river, ospreys floating by and otters splashing in the night. We saw few bats, probably there were no bugs. Sleeping without a tent was an excellent option. Sunday and Monday, Jake ran Pigeon Point with kayaking friends. After a late start, and missed meetings, Ruth and I stayed in camp. It was warm enough to swim and sun and drink cold fluids. Monday, we broke camp and got on the river by 10 AM. The interesting part was organizing shuttle for two runs with only two cars. Fortunately, the Pigeon Point people were willing to paddle on down to Skunk Point, where the class II paddlers were happy to start. We all met at the French Bar takeout to exchange passengers and boats. We even timed the arrivals perfectly.

The only problem was too few people to camp with. We missed all our POST friends. Next weekend, Pigeon Point will be run again. Let me know if you want to make it. We will try to make it worth the drive. We also hope to see some of you at the Nugget Slalom race Sept 19-20. It really does improve your paddling skills. This year, maybe I will even attempt all the gates.

I hope to see you on the water soon.

Jan Dooley

PS Thank you again to the many paddling friends who came to Chuck’s memorial. I wish I could have spent more time with each of you. My family felt, and continues to feel, very loved. Now, make the long drive again to enjoy the river with us.

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