Independence Weekend: Freedom to Boat

Trip Report  Klamath River, 4th of July, 2017

Eight paddlers enjoyed a delightful 4th of July holiday weekend on the Klamath River. Don and Karen , plus Alan and Kate paired up in tandem canoes. Jan and Ruth soloed in canoes. John and Bob joined us in inflatable kayaks. We camped at Sarah Totten near Hamburg. The campground was in excellent shape with paths recently brushed out.

The weekend started with Don and Karen arriving Thursday evening to claim our favorite campsite. They explored the scenic byways on Friday, and found some extensive road damage up Beavertail Creek road from the wet winter. The campground went from empty on Thursday to full on Saturday. Bob arrived Friday night. Alan, Kate, Ruth and Jan arrived 9 AM Saturday morning in time to paddle the Brown Bear run. The flow out of Iron Gate Dam was the typical 1000 cfs. Side creeks added significant water so the flow at Seiad Valley was 1600 cfs. It is interesting to note that the flow out of Iron Gate increased after our trip. Brown Bear, class I (II) was straight forward. Bob tried the surf hole and swam. No one else was brave enough to try it. Bob and Jan went on after most participants took out at Blue Heron. Tom Martin rapid presented problems with a large hole on the left along the inside, a large haystack wave in the center and nasty eddies on the right. Bob got stuck in the eddy. Jan portaged. Saturday night, John joined us for Don’s taco salad dinner. It was delicious and a wise choice for a hot evening.

Sunday we rose to Don’s hashbrowns, ham and cheese creations. The night was warm under the trees but cooled off eventually. Some nights it stayed muggy all night. The bugs loved it and the bats showed up to feast on them. We learned to move out to an open spot after the sun went down. Between the bugs, hard paddling and late sunsets, we went to bed most nights before the first star appeared. Afternoons saw us downstream on a nice sandy beach with a recirculating eddy and shade. A bald eagle cruised the river by camp almost every day. The blue herons posed so magnificently on the rocks while the dragonflies danced across the river’s surface. Our favorite flying critter this year was a bright blue damselfly with white wings and bold black wing tips. A river otter was spotted above Schoolhouse on the final day.

For Sunday’s paddle, we braved Trees of Heaven class III- run. The put in was packed. Two large raft and IK groups put on at the same time. Everyone was courteous, and we even shared lunch spots. By the end, we intermingled, and then all took out together. Dutch Creek was easier than usual and could be run down the middle, which we found out at the bottom. Jan led everyone down the usual route, cutting right of the rocks at the bottom. This caused a few bobbles, but no swims. Bob showed us that the easier route went left of rightmost rock. Ruth as nightmares about Schoolhouse all year. She nailed it with a perfect line. Kate and Alan turned their canoe into a submarine, but stayed upright and self rescued. Don and Karen flipped. Beau immediately started swimming for shore and Karen went with him. Don and rescuers chased the tandem canoe down the river a ways before wrangling it to shore. Beau hitched a ride in Bob’s IK and looked quite happy. Karen jumped back in the river and bumped her way down over rocks. Honolulu caused problems on the bottom half. Jan was on her side for awhile, but managed to get upright. Many paddlers in the big groups went down the left side finishing with big smiles. The high flows from the wet winter cleared out the thick river weed above Schoolhouse. This year there was no need to pole the canoes through the plants clogging the river in the center of the flow. Sunday night, we ate Dutch oven dishes with Jan’s Tamale Pie and Ruth’s Strawberries in Chocolate cake.

Monday started with pancakes and sausage courtesy of Alan and Kate. We decided to do the class II Rocky Point run. Jan volunteered to paddle the Winona tandem with Kate, so Alan could solo in his Mohawk. Don and Karen led, despite it being a new run for them. Granite Point rapid, class II, swamped Kate and Jan in the high waves. They were so deep in the water that Yukon floated out of the canoe. Kate and Jan managed to keep the boat upright and self rescued. The best part of this run is a long, continuous class I/II rapid below the hwy 96 bridge. You keep picking your way between little rocks and waves for half a mile or so. It feels like a long, slow dance. We forgot to look for a lunch spot along the long curve away from the road. So we ate in a hot, steep, rock patch just before rejoining the road. The final rapid above Sluice Box is a bouncy, winding class II on the right with most of the water. None of us knows what the left side looks like. It is supposed to be harder.

Part of the group took out at Sluice Box. Jan grabbed her solo Prodigy canoe off the car and joined Bob and John for the Portuguese Creek run.  The Portuguese Creek rapid, class III, was a first for everyone. We boat scouted it and ran it on the left no difficulty. The right side looked too low and presented an inconvenient rock at the bottom. The most recent memories of the run was Jan and Bob’s, who paddled below Portuguese Creek over a decade before. Scouting Savage Rapid was mandatory because it is rated class IV by Neil Ruckers. At our flow, it was a class III. It consisted of a wide rapid that narrows down at the end to drop over a ledge into a chaotic channel. Few landmarks make the upper part easy to get lost in. Bob led and picked the right spot to drop over the ledge. The water coming in laterally cancelled each other out and made for a relatively smooth ride over the reaction wave. The boily water below the ledge caused lots of spinning for those boats that tried to eddy out. This section of river between Upper Savage and Ft Goff Falls consists of gorgeously clear water flowing rapidly over channels in smooth grey rocks. It is beautiful and exhilarating. No scouting was done for Lower Savage because it usually looks intimidating, but is a straight shot on the right with a diagonal wave to deal with. Not this time. The higher flow changed this rapid significantly. Most of the water flowed over the ledge on the left. Jan started down the right and quickly went left due to the large eddy fence at the bottom that looked likely to be painful. She had no back-up plan and ended up with plan C down the middle. This plan went over the ledge, dodging rocks and going over tall waves. It looked like the least likely way to get hurt. It proved successful, even though John swam on the bottom wave. It was a fast rescue. Just around the corner waited Otter’s Playpen, quickly followed by Ft Goff Falls. Otter’s Playpen is a rock fence with several, narrow openings. The guide book says all openings are possible. The straight ahead routes looked bouncy. We followed the main current around to the right and through the usual chute second from the end. I still wonder how rafts run this rapid. At Ft. Goff Falls, the water pauses long enough to allow a move right to the lowest part of the fall. We took out at the primitive access called Tim’s with huge grins. Bob declared he finally felt alive. On the return drive, we scouted the left route at Lower Savage which looked easy. Alan and Kate cooked hamburgers, potato salad and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Yum!

Monday, Bob, Alan and Kate departed after Jan’s polenta and spam breakfast. The remaining four boats debated whether to paddle the class II Seattle Creek to Joe Morgan section. We call this the kids and dogs run due to its forgiving nature and beauty. We traditionally take out at China Point, but a large slide had closed the road to it. Continuing on to Gordon’s Ferry made it eleven miles and added a long right curve with class I rock dodging. After staring at each other for awhile, we decided we were tired and felt Brown Bear sounded fine. Jan had a silly swim trying to paddle a wave on her off side. Everyone took out at Blue Heron, which gives you an idea of how tired we were. We spent a leisurely afternoon enjoying the beach, water, shade and snacks. Jan cooked sausages, baked beans and peach dump cake for the 4th of July dinner. We heard no fireworks, and most importantly encountered no fires. The local Hot Shot team drove past at some point and we saw smoke. There was a report of a fire near Dutch Creek, but we never saw it.

Wednesday, Don provided oatmeal and granola. We broke camp. Don and Karen drove back via the Scott Valley. John, Jan and Ruth paddled the short version of Trees of Heaven from Skeahan Bar to Gottville. Ruth again nailed Schoolhouse and finished full of confidence solo paddling in her Flashback canoe. We went down the left side of Honolulu. The top requires negotiating a boulder garden with some waves. Once clear of the rocks, the bottom is a bouncy, straight shot. It was fun. John said it reminded him of the rocky, shallow rivers in New England.

This was one of the simplest, most enjoyable trips I have been on. The river and campground is perfect for canoes with enough nearby class I to III runs. The weather was hot, but not insufferable, and made swimming inviting. The company helped each other and enjoyed each other. All of the most experienced paddlers swam, usually laughing, while the other paddlers learned a lot and stayed upright. Ruth stayed dry and gained tremendous confidence. Best of all, for me at least, was the lack of forest fires requiring sudden changes in plans. Thanks to all who came and helped to make the trip so fun!




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Navarro River – March 18-19


March 18-19, 2017

By Karen J.

Imagine soft misty-blue water with sediment still settling, the plonk-plink of dripping foliage, the rich green of happy moss, the damp cool clean air, a beautiful gravel bar, and a 16-foot class 3 scramble from parked vehicles to get down to river-level. The Hendy Woods Bridge put-in. We normally put in at the day use area inside the park, but it was closed; not just gated-closed, but impassible-closed. The recent storms/floods caused damage that has not been repaired. It would have been a long, long carry. The bridge was bad, but better.

The intrepid but crazy group of 7 people with three boats met at 10:00 AM. When Don and Karen arrived (early), Kate and Alan already had their boat and most of their gear down at the water, as did Eric , girlfriend Julie, and son Arvid. Once all gear was loaded and the car-shuttle to Dimmick campground completed, we set off.

The river was running a little under 400 cfs; the weather prediction was 50% chance of rain Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Skies felt grey and watchful, giving that eerie sensation a downpour was imminent. However, the temperature was mild. I love paddling in the rain; hearing the drops rustle in the foliage and plop onto the water surface, watching drip-rings spread, and feeling a sense of joy that exists nowhere else. But keep in mind a 50% chance of rain predicts that 50% of the forecast area would receive measurable precipitation. Rain may have fallen elsewhere in the area, but all we got the entire weekend was about 60 droplets each. It felt like rain, but none materialized.

The Navarro this year is a new river. The good news is last year’s downed trees are gone, cleared out by earlier high water. The bad news is there are lots of creatively-placed new downed trees for your boating pleasure, and the channels, such as they are, are much more intricately arranged. The tree-and-brush lined but relatively entrenched channels are gone; the new channels often cut through the well-grown willows that lined the old channels. Channel-finding was difficult in places. We went over, under and around channel-blocking tree trunks. We bushwhacked with boats, dragging through dense heavy willow-stems that did NOT want to bend. We maneuvered around very tight turns while the current shoved us toward strainers, rocks, logs, and undercut banks. Progress was slow and channels, if they existed at all, were narrow. One interesting obstacle was a narrow spot with a ninety-degree turn and a log laying diagonally above the top part of the bend and sinking mid-channel into the lower part of the bend. The current wanted boats to be pushed under the log (minimal clearance) and trapped in debris on the far side. It was possible with clean entry, good angle and bow-paddler muscle to skirt the log to the inside. Unfortunately, Kate and Alan weren’t set up properly and washed under the log still upright, then got caught on the far side. They discussed the situation briefly, then with some struggle pried themselves off the obstruction and floated downstream where they eddied out. It was a nasty spot; both kept their heads, kept their balance, and kept working until they escaped. Kate was shaking, but never lost it. We were impressed.
Eric’s girlfriend Julie is great. She’s not an experienced paddler, but she’s strong, willing, and upbeat. Eric needed her help to navigate the tight channels, not to mention the non-channels. Arvid, a third-grader now, took turns with Julie paddling bow. Arvid was also the group’s motivated campfire-maker in camp, which turned out to be rather important to some other boaters.
Our usual sandy camping ground was washed out; we didn’t want to set up tents on large cobbles. Since the bulk of the sand along the Navarro has evidently left for the sea, we searched for somewhere with, hopefully, gravel or smaller rocks. Don found a nice spot just downstream on the left, with an overhanging tree branch perfect for the kitchen tarp, flat areas, and a ground surface reminiscent of concrete with small rocks jutting out. We set up camp, ate a Don-cooked dinner of rice and chicken curry, then sat by the fire watching the river and drinking wine, tea or hot chocolate as the light faded. Chocolate and cookies to finish off the meal. It was wonderful.
As we watched, and the grey deepened into night, two solo sit-on-top kayakers, man and woman, came around the bend and pulled up at the beach.
The man, Matt, asked “How far is it before we hit civilization?”
Don: “There is no civilization along the rest of this river.”
Matt: “Anywhere we can get to the road?”
Don: “The nearest take-out is nine miles.”
The woman, also named Karen, sat in her kayak gazing at the fire with intense and wistful longing. (This could get confusing. From here on, the kayaker-Karen will be referred to as Karen, the other will be called Karen J.)
Matt: “How far is it to the coast? We have a car staged at the coast.”
Don: “Seventeen miles.”
Karen sat in her kayak gazing at the fire. Craving the fire.
Matt: “Well, then we’ll paddle out to the nearest take-out and spend the night there, then I’ll paddle the rest of the way to the coast tomorrow.”
We all sat there thinking they were going to die.
Matt and Karen had started in Booneville that morning, and planned to reach the coast by dark. They had no idea what they were getting into and were completely unprepared. No extra clothing, no lifejackets. They had water and one flashlight and no dry clothes. It was a surprisingly mild night, but with the cloud cover it was black dark; navigation on the river would be difficult and dangerous. Rain was forecast.
Kate spoke up. “You can’t go. It’s not safe. You need to say with us tonight.” Kate kept insisting they stay. The rest of us joined her. Not that we had any idea how we could manage, but anything was better than that black river.
Karen, still sitting in her kayak, spoke quietly to Matt. “You’re not going to make me leave, are you?”
Matt: “Nope!”
They climbed out of their boats and up to the fire. Both were soaking wet. Karen was wearing a dripping cotton sweatshirt and shivering. Karen Jarrell’s mommy-nature instantly kicked in; she dragged Karen behind the tent and got her into all of Karen J.’s spare clothes; Karen J. even sacrificed her down jacket. Julie donated socks and Teva’s. Meanwhile, Eric had outfitted Matt with dry clothing. The next order of business was food. There was no dinner left other than dessert sweets, but Kate and Allen brought out their yummy good cookies, and others contributed lunch leftovers; Matt and Karen had a decent if strange dinner, then joined us at the fire with hot cocoa.
At bedtime, The Jarrells donated their tatami mats and a pillow to the Matt-and-Karen cause, Kate and Alan contributed two blankets, and Eric et al contributed their tent footprint as a groundcloth and a completely-zipped-open down sleeping bag. Amazing what we came up with. Then off we went to bed.
The following morning, Matt and Karen were necessarily up early, since we’d built their bed under the kitchen tarp in case of rain. Breakfast was hot oatmeal with nuts and fruit, and lots of hot coffee and hot chocolate. Hot is so wonderful on a cool morning. (Brief pause while the author recalls that first sip of sweet hot coffee and how luxurious it feels going down the throat.)
As we were packing, Matt and Karen tried to return the borrowed clothing. Since NOTHING they owned was even remotely dry and much of it was dripping and covered with sand, this effort was refused. As a matter of fact, Karen acquired a waterproof shell and rain pants when Karen J. changed into her dry suit. Karen J. can be quite insistent, even pushy at times, and wasn’t taking no for an answer.
The second day, our group of now 5 boats headed downstream. We asked… well actually, Karen J. demanded… that Matt and Karen follow the lead boat, paying attention to both boat placement and angle when entering drops or tight turns. They were perfect. Part way down, Karen was heard laughing with joy – “It’s so beautiful here, I love this!”
Our most interesting obstacle the second day was a cluster of three freshly-fallen redwoods blocking the twelve-foot channel, the bottom edge of the upstream tree sitting barely under the waterline. No good way around to the left; heavy brush and a steep bank with nowhere to stand. No way around to the right; tree-roots and a vertical bank blocked the way. Fortunately, there was little current on the right edge of the channel, so Don and Karen J. leaned their canoe gunnel against the three-foot diameter log and scrambled up and over. On the far side of the first log, the two smaller logs formed a lovely, stable dock just above water level. The Jarrells dragged their fully-loaded boat over the logs and back into the water; Karen J. tied it up while Don steadied Matt’s boat. Matt and Don pulled boats over while Karen J. helped the paddlers. People clamber out, boat is pulled over and steadied in the water, people climb back in and paddle to the nearby gravel bar. Easy. But don’t think this was the only obstacle; it’s just there were so many. And we were getting better at them.
The Dimmick take-out still had the nasty bank, but was much easier overall than in prior years. The high water on the North Fork of the Navarro, which joins the main Navarro just upstream of Dimmick campground, deposited a nice gravel bar at the take-out, so all boats could beach and unload easily. There was a downed tree at the top of the bank, but it was easy to go around. Everyone, including our guests, carried boats and schlepped gear.
Then hiked out to the road, around the ‘Campsite Closed’ barrier, and into cars to run a double car shuttle. Matt and Karen J. took Don’s Highlander to the coast so Matt could bring back his truck. Eric took Alan back to the put-in and retrieved Alan’s car. Everyone else prepared boats for transport and loaded gear. Matt and Karen J. were the first back; Matt jumped out to shift the barrier aside that partially blocked the entrance, whereapon the barrier collapsed into 3 or4 pieces. It had been propped together like a house of cards and was now laying in the middle of the road completely flattened. Matt moved the rightmost piece or two so the cars could get in. And on to loading.
During the high water of a few weeks ago, the North Fork of the Navarro had obviously swept enthusiastically through the campground. Karen J. headed for the nearest bathroom, though Don said it was likely locked. Karen J. still doesn’t know if the door was locked or not; the debris pile in front of the door prevented her from ever reaching it. She instead used a sunlit green clearing amidst soft leaf litter and the delicate, gleaming new leaves of poison oak.
Our unexpected guests Matt and Karen were awesome the entire time they were with us. They jumped right into the group, never whined, helped with everything, fun to be around. They’re strong, bright, articulate, and full of life. GREAT people. Arvid is likely to miss Matt; they had fun together. Karen J. already misses Karen; she felt like a friend. All of us hope they’ll paddle with us on other trips and bring their friends.
Many thanks to Don Jarrell for planning the trip, packing all the equipment, buying the food, preparing the meals, and leading on the river. Don, you are totally awesome. (OK, I’m biased, I’m his wife, but he’s still totally awesome.)
I feel sorry for all of you who didn’t make this trip. I’ve never been as proud to be a part of this group as I was this weekend. The culture of caring, supportiveness, happiness and adventure is so special. There was enough adventure and misery-quotient to make a memorable trip. And Lord, it’s so beautiful out on the water, even when we share it with brush thickets and downed trees.
Hope to see you on the river soon!
Karen J.

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February 5th, 2017, Austin Creek from Cazadero to Russian River Confluence

February 5, 2017: Austin Creek — Cazadero to Russian River confluence

7 Participants: Alan , Kate , David , Eileen , Patrick , Joan , Chris .

Austin Creek is a stretch of class 1 1/2 water which is completely dependent on rainfall that flows through a forest of Redwood trees and rustic homes along Cazadero Highway. Due to winter storms in the region, it was decided to forego the planned Russian River paddle above Healdsburg. We met at the Old Duncans Mills Grade steel bridge site over Austin Creek on a chilly, overcast Sunday morning. After scouting possible options, a decision was made to take out at Cassini Ranch, largely because it did not require a machete or a trek through poison oak. The small but intrepid group, in three canoes and two kayaks, agreed to launch at the Fire Station in Cazadero and paddle Austin Creek to land at Cassini Ranch, across from the confluence of the Russian River, approximately six river miles. There was plenty of water coming under the bridge – about 1,000 cfs. We launched on Austin Creek at 11:00 a.m. The run was through a magnificent forest of giant Redwood Trees. We encountered islands of brush and some rapids, one which required scouting from shore with a passage on the right-side. The group stopped for lunch at the confluence with the East Fork of Austin Creek. Two more more challenging sections were encountered after the lunch stop requiring maneuvering skill–narrow passages between brush with no scouting from shore required, and also one downed tree which was passed without incident on the right. At one point, Alan’s rain hat abandoned ship, but Eileen Nolan, seeing something floating in the water, recovered it. In a light, drizzling rain, the group reached the confluence at the Russian River, which was swollen to at least 100 yards wide. The brave little band ferried across to Cassini Ranch Beach and reached shore at 2:50 p.m. Upon beginning the ferry to the beach across the Russian River, Dave was overheard saying, “You just did something that very few people have done”.

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Anybody out there?

At the recent POST holiday party it was suggested that we need some kind of manual for potential trip leaders. I have tons of material that I could share but my big problem is that I get terribly bogged down in minutiae. I can publish details on how to brush your teeth on a wilderness canoe trip! What I desperately need is someone who can take all the material I have been writing up over the years and convert it into a short 1-2 page checklist for trip leaders. Maybe with subsets of how to pack and set up the kitchen, or river leader responsibilities, or groover use and maintenance.
I see too many details and no one really needs them all.

Anyone interested?


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Postdated POST

I somehow managed to forget to post Alan L’s trip reports. They went out to the Club on the elist but for more permanent offerings I am now posting them to the website:

POST Labor Day Trip Saturday, Sep 5, 2015 (one day) –
Middle Fork of the American River – Greenwood Bridge to Mammoth Bar (6.6 miles – class 2 – intermediate)
John D(solo KC1);
Vince G(solo KC1);
Fred F(solo K1);
Don J/Karen J (tandem OC);
Alan L/Kate N(tandem OC)
Participants arrived at Raley’s supermarket parking lot at 11:00 a.m. (Auburn, CA) and ran shuttle to Mammoth Bar; and then on to the launch below Greenwood Bridge (site).  Participants met and had lunch at Ruck-a-Chucky campground and waited for the river to come up, which it did at approximately 1:45 p.m. (1,000 cfs from Oxbow Powerhouse Dam upstream).  The group paddled through a beautiful and scenic area, punctuated with numerous mostly unnamed class 2 rapids with large boulders requiring skill in boat handling from all participants (Cherokee Bar)— further downstream the largest standing waves were big, but not big enough to swamp an open canoe (Maine Bar and Poverty Bar)—just very quick and wet.  The last major rapid (Kennebec Bar) over a ledge extending across the river was the only one which was scouted; by three of the participants—Alan, Kate, and Fred; who watched Don/Karen, then Vince, followed by John – all of whom chose an open passage, and passed through without difficulty.  Alan/Kate then followed on down and over the ledge staying to the left of the big boulder at the right side, with Fred F  closing the show by taking the far right chute—a difficult route!  Everyone had fun, and no one was injured, nor was any equipment damaged or lost.  There was much camaraderie throughout the day, and John D, and Vince G made their unique solo canoes available to those who wanted to try padding something different.  After dining at a local restaurant, the group parted ways and all headed on back to the Bay Area/Sacramento.
 Alan and Kate did camp at Folsom Lake (25% capacity, with the remnants of Folsom Lake off in the distance, totally removed from any access points by 100’s of vertical feet now dry, and no boats were out there on Folsom Lake—please hope for much needed ran and soon; and, on Sunday, Alan and Kate hiked to Hawkver Limestone Cave from the Quarry Trail parking access on the Middle Fork of the American River, and then on to the Murderer’s Bar rapid to see what a Class 5 rapid looks like from the shore, the Sunday dam release eventually reached this point around 5:00 p.m.)
Event:    Lower American River – River Bend Park to Watt Avenue
Date: Saturday, June 20, 2015.
Present: (3 solo) John A, John D, Fred F 
              (2 tandem) Alan L/Kate N,     Eric F/Amy S & A (almost 7).
We got onto the water at 11:00 a.m., and upon reaching “Clay Banks”, John A led the way down for all but Kate and I who took a side route into the ponds and just below Clay Banks rapid.  And then Kate and I waded back into the ponds for more exploration, with Eric F, Amy S, A7, and Fred F joining us through the traverse route into the ponds to the main flow at Arden for some moving water excitement.  John A and John D went on to Grist Mill from Clay Banks and waited for us to join them for lunch, before all proceeded to Watt Avenue Bridge, where we disembarked from the American River at 3:30 p.m. Today, I was surprised to see the water level had been increased to 2,700 cfs for our Saturday run, which seemed just adequate for the ponds, and “Clay Banks”–any with less and it would not have been possible.  

With 2750 cfs running, everyone made it down safely From River Bend Park to Watt Avenue.
January 3-4, 2015:  Day 1: Russian River Monte Rio to Jenner;
                                Day 2: Cloverdale to Geyserville
7 Participants:  Fred F, Roy and Sally B, Vince G and Shauna C, Alan L and Kate N.
Due to access issues at the confluence of the Wheatfield branch and South Fork of the Gualala River, with signs posted for “Private Property” and resulting parking issues, the January 3-4 trip was moved to the Russian River Watershed Area.  The float plan to do Austin Creek on Day 1, and camp at Cassini Ranch at the Confluence with the Russian River at Duncans Mills was contingent on more rain to charge Austin Creek.  Without enough rain for Austin Creek, a contingency plan was proposed on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the Austin Creek Bridge at Duncans Mills, when all seven participants assembled there to examine the flow on Austin Creek.  The contingency plan was to launch at the bridge at Monte Rio, and paddle to Jenner.  Cassini Ranch staff allowed an early check-in (normally 2:00 p.m.) so our Saturday overnight camp was set up early before embarking out onto the Russian River at Monte Rio.   We embarked at 11:00 a.m., and I was pleased to see the current moving at about 3 miles an hour at the Monte Rio bridge, not launching out onto the flat water.  The group stopped for lunch at the sand bar at the east end of Cassini Ranch.  Fred F and Kate and Alan did paddle up Austin Creek as far as the SR-116 Highway bridge, just to see the crystal clear water of Austin Creek joining the green water flowing on the Russian River.  With clear weather and virtually no wind at all, the POST-sponsored group reached Jenner around 3:30 p.m.  After retrieving our vehicles from Monte Rio, dinner was prepared and served–Fresh Salad, Fresh Bristol Farms Sourdough Bread, Roasted Chicken, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and a fresh baked big Apple Pie.  Although Alan’s eyeglasses went to the ground in the dark on Saturday evening after dinner, and were located early the next morning next to the table by Vince.   Day 2 started early with a crackling fire in the fire ring, and a breakfast by Fred F. The breakfast of Eggs Californiano, and Pancakes with fresh Berries, hot maple syrup, and hot coffee prepared us for the day ahead.  We got the camp taken apart, and proceeded to Geyserville to examine the take-out access at the bridge over the Upper Russian River, the water was flowing deep and moving right along, around 450 cfs.  We proceeded to the Cloverdale River Park, and launched at 11:00 a.m. onto clearer water–not the brownish water associated with high flows on the Upper Russian.  The river course was chiefly class 1 1/2 moving water with class 2 brush most of the way, with some pools which were interspersed between the brushy drops, turns, blind corners, and swift water sections.  One spot was lined by everyone, as there was no clear channel and the water was churning into a particularly brush-choked drop on river right.  Before reaching the Asti Summer Bridge Abutments, Roy and Sally set up a lunch table and everyone had sandwiches, fresh fruit, ‘fiddle-faddle’, fruit juice, and cookies.    About one mile beyond the Asti summer bridge abutments, we all saw on river left a Boston Whaler motorboat who started up his outboard motor.  How the Boston Whaler got there is a big question–it may have been stuck there for several weeks since the recent rains in December, as there was no boat access for anything of that size anywhere at the flows we experienced below the Cloverdale River Park.  Slightly further on, the river course split into three channels, the right being choked with brush, the center being too shallow for anything but lining, and the left seemingly open, but leading to a sharp right corner and five-foot drop over 10 yards down a swift chute.  Vince led the way with Shauna, and Fred F  followed, leaving Roy and Sally in the pool above the chute, blowing whistles thinking that Alan and Kate were caught somewhere.  Alan and Kate had taken the center option and lined their canoe, per Alan–to avoid a boat pile up down there on river left.  After walking back up to see how Roy and Sally were going to manage this little bit of trouble, it was decided that Vince and Roy would take Roy and Sally’s ‘tripping’ canoe down the Class 2 drop, and that Sally would walk down with us, as we knew the way through all of the brush to the bottom of the rapid.  The last two hours on the water were marked by bright sunlight glare which made visibility difficult when paddling along the sunlit glare.  All seven participants reached the bridge at Geyserville at about 4:00 p.m.    
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October – Tuolumne and the Stanislaus

By Eric R.

10/17/15 Turlock Lake Campground

The cheerful music of Alan’s concertina carries easily through the screened window of my camper. The campfire where he plays illuminates his and another paddlers face: a glowing conclusion to a lovely day on the Tuolumne River that we canoed from the old La Grange bridge to this campground.
Here Bob and Joan prepared our dinner. As part of their 5 star service Joan delivered the plates of pulled porkwiches, potato salad and beans to each diner. We helped ourselves to the three bottles of wine. Without help, Kit and I emptied a porter and most of a Newcastle Brown Ale. Joan also delivered dessert – rich, gooey brownies she’d made, and, just in case those didn’t yield enough endorphins, a package of Costco cookies, chocolate chip.
During the meal most of us, including surprise arrivals Charlie and Kit, talked about the events of the day, as well as various occurrences during the late Middle Ages. They happened near rivers.
One person worked through dinner. Treasurer Jan Lockie, who would otherwise have to deal with it once she gets home, wisely chose to figure out what each participant owed and collect it between bites.
“It’s all done!” she exclaimed with a smile about the time Alan started playing and Kate built and started the fire.
“I’ve always been a firebug.” Kate confessed with a grin.
Alice gave the day’s paddling a touch of class by rakishly sporting a wide-brimmed black felt hat. Bob reminded us of the season with a plastic jack-o-lantern affixed to the prow of his canoe.
“What’s in it” I asked.
“Candy.” he replied.
Of course.
Ever energetic Vince asked late in the day if he could paddle my XL13. I instantly said yes. At that point I was tired with trying to keep the little Mohawk in a straight, speedy line. Vince and Shauna were sweep and I’d spent much of the afternoon being dust. It was a relief to get in the bow of their boat and just paddle, needing no j-strokes or prys to stay on course. Shauna easily aimed us into every Y and avoided all rocks.
The lovely and mostly serene day was enlivened by, new to POST, but experienced sea-paddler, Katarina. She’d been encouraged not to bother getting a river boat, so she brought her very long, keeled, bright yellow, tippy sea-kayak. By the end of the trip she was dreaming of going down river in Alice’s short, but very stable bathtub shaped Kopapa.
Bob got out of his boat to pull Katarina’s boat free of one traffic jam, and Joan gave her company and coaching most of the way. And she showed great spunk, emerging from her inevitable spills with smiles and good cheer. Instead of complaining, she continued to express delight and gratitude for being on this lovely river, seeing the Osprey and noble Great Blue Herons and being with us.
Katarina’s third tip didn’t change her attitude, but it did take most of her breath away. She found herself upside down and couldn’t get the spray skirt to quickly release.
All her travails persuaded the rest of us that Katarina’s got what POST requires: an ability to laugh when wet, hurt and embarrassed. Repeatedly. And she brought two bottles of wine.

10/18/15 Looking back
Today the sun came up early – no overcast. We left camp early, but somehow got divided. Most went right on Lake Rd. That was right. Some, though, went left. That was not right.
All managed to get to Knights Ferry and most elected to paddle upstream past the old covered bridge and warm up in the wave trains. No surprise that Vince and Shauna deftly moved from one to another, enjoying apparently leisurely stays mid roiling water. Not expected by some of us was Jim’s ease at doing the same thing. Our appreciation increased as word got round that Jim is 82. Evidently paddling is healthy.
Also riding those waves were Kate and Alan. Had you noticed what good paddlers they’ve become?
There were some changes at Russian Rapid. Proving that she also has sense, Katarina chose to walk the left side path, totally dry this year. Kit and Charlie used the same route to rejoin us for lunch, which Bob and Joan served on the river left beach. Continuing their “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.” service, they forced nobody to fix sandwiches between bites of breakfast, but brought lunch to the beach. We gladly took their tasty wraps and ate them. Thank you Bob and Joan.
There was some mystery in the woods between the river and that left side path. Always enthusiastic, Vince and Dave set off up that way carrying the big red Legend, I think it was. After awhile voices were heard to wonder where these men were. We of course expected to see them come splashing any minute through the waves to have lunch. But many minutes passed, and wraps were eaten. Eventually they did re-emerge, out of the brush, not the river. Something was said about the impenetrable berry vines. It’s not just the bears that can get you in these riparian thickets.
After we left the rapids, we found some others adequate to excite us, and in time there were a lot of musical boats. Early on David and Peter traded with Shauna and Vince to try out the for sale Legend. After Katarina’s second Sunday swim, Karen asked if she’d like to paddle with Don. “Yes!” she replied with maybe even more than her usual gratitude. For her to become Don’s bow paddler, and student, Karen partnered with Shauna, Vince got to paddle my Mohawk again, and I got into the tippy sea-kayak. Not wanting to become breathless, I didn’t fasten the skirt.
Soon Bob led us ashore at Horseshoe Bend, Upper Horseshoe Bend it was. After we all stretched and snacked, as suggested by Bob, we got back into our boats and paddled for a full 8 to 10 minutes to Lower Horseshoe Bend, where Bob again bade us come ashore. Sure enough, nobody felt the need to stretch or snack. We were all ready to put boats atop quickly shuttled vehicles, and clear out, after promising to meet on December 12 for the POST party. Let’s.

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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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