Sunday, October 29, 2006


Gorge Run, SF American River, Oct 28, 2006.

Whitewater River Kayaking, Class III.

It was old friends day on the river. RaoulA and I drove two cars to the river today, but we unexpectedly met lots of people we knew with whom we could have shuttled. We kayaked the Gorge Run on SF American River at a flow of 1600 cfs (El Dorado County, California, USA). RaoulA paddled his Dagger RPM & I paddled my Wave Sports Frankenstein kayak.

Dawdling Through a Lazy Morning.

This was the first time I have run The Gorge since the opening of the river access point at Greenwood Creek. Putting in farther upriver in past years it seems that we always spent too much time and energy on the class II whitewater section above the Gorge, then had to run too fast through the Gorge. What a treat to put-in at Greenwood and have less class II to run before getting to the class III main event in the Gorge section! And since it takes about 4 hours for the release from Chili Bar reservoir to get down to Greenwood we were able to sleep in late, see the release begin online, then drive to the river and run it.

I was a sluggish surfer all morning, but managed to get it going enough to get on a few waves. Fall colors were starting to break out in the foliage along the river. And with the commercial trips over for the year we were into the quiet time of winter boating when we saw only a few other groups of kayakers on the river and the occasional hikers or fishermen on shore. We had lunch at the composting toilet above Fowler's rapid, another improvement that has been added since my last run on this section. Fortunately, I perked up after lunch and then had a pretty good afternoon of kayaking.

Into the Cesspool at Satan's - Whitewater Adventure.

Approaching the Gorge section we saw the Lolipop Tree on the hilltop. We ran Fowler's rapid and did a little surfing on the waves in Upper Haystack Canyon. After an easy summer of playboating on class II whitewater I got reintroduced to the speed and power of class III hydraulics and the chaos of class III eddy lines. We tried surfing at Lost Hat rapid, but the flow was a little too high so we didn't spend much time there. Lolipop tree.

We eddied out above Satan's Cesspool rapid. Raoul ran a nice line punching through pretty high up on river-right. I planned to go a little to the left of Raoul's line at Satan's, but as soon as I peeled out of the eddy the current pushed me quite a bit farther left. Suddenly I was going straight down into the hole, and then it got kind of dark for a little while. When I resurfaced I was upsidedown in the funny water, but I tried to roll anyway. It failed, but I kept my head down and did a little sculling half-way up for a while before finally popping the rest of the way up on my second try. Whew!
IK boater running Satan's Cesspool rapid
IK boater running my line at Satan's and staying upright!

Son of Satan's and Scissors rapids were fun. After not kayaking this run for a few years it was neat to remember most of the river, but not have things totally memorized. I actually had to read the whitewater and choose my lines in some places. I'm a little out of practice for running class III, but my class IV whitewater reading skills were just fine. Raoul went straight into the wave-hole at Bouncing Rock rapid, disappeared from view, then punched out the bottom of the hole still upright in his little RPM kayak. I used the speed of the Frankenstein kayak to slip by on the left. And thats pretty much how I did it all afternoon. At Hospital Bar rapid I caught the eddy on the left then ferried across rather than running a big whoop-dee-do line down the middle or the right side. The class II section after Surprise rapid was a nice finish to a great day of whitewater. And with the water level in Folsom Reservoir at 423 feet we had current all the way to take-out at Salmon Falls.

In Search of the Perfect Recipe.

I ran into some old friends, Rick & Cindy, at Greenwood Creek. Leaving from Greenwood Creek river access, I decided to drive up to Coloma and distribute a few more cards to publicize the whitewater blog. On the way home I stopped for dinner at the Mangolian BBQ in Cameron Park. Assembling my own mix of ingredients is fun and by going beyond their sauce recommendations I am finally getting it really hot and spicy the way I like it.

Photos were taken by BruceT with an Olympus Stylus 720SW waterproof digital camera.

Road map, gas, food & lodging: Coloma, CA - MapQuest.
Local weather: Coloma, CA -

More about: Trip Reports - Whitewater River Kayaking.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Flood Protection Plan for Sacramento is on Track

Roger Dickinson's article on flood protection appeared in the Sacramento Bee on October 13, 2006.

Political forces demanding the construction of Auburn Dam have for many years blocked all other methods of providing the flood control that is desperately needed for Sacramento. Now with the spectre of Katrina-style flooding possibly causing similar devastation on low-lying lands throughout Sacramento, it seems that the way has now finally been cleared to provide the rapid, affordable and sensible flood protection that Sacramento desperately needs. I applaud the plan described by Roger Dickinson in which the existing structure at Folsom Dam could be quickly modified to provide a dramatic improvement in the flood protection for Sacramento. This, together with the repair and upgrading of downstream levees can provide better than 200-year flood protection for Sacramento without requiring the construction of any other costly, new flood control structures.

More about: River Conservation and Flood Control.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006


Stretching after you are in your Kayak

Warmup for whitewater river kayaking or sea kayaking

The most effective stretching that you can do is before you put on all of your bulky kayaking gear, but who hasn't dressed, jumped into the kayak and then realized that you forgot to stretch? Fortunately, the most important stretches that we need for kayaking can be done anytime while sitting in our kayaks (e.g. on the beach at put-in, after lunch, etc.).

Shoulders/Torso 1.

Put your elbow under your chin, use the other hand to push the elbow around towards the opposite shoulder. To intensify the stretch rotate your shoulders in the same direction that you are pushing. Hold the stretch with firm, continuous pressure for at least 40 sec. Repeat with the opposite elbow.

Shoulders/Torso 2.

Lift your arm up and put your wrist behind your head, use the other hand to pull the wrist towards the opposite shoulder. To intensify the stretch bend your torso to the side in the direction that you are pulling. Hold the stretch with firm, continuous pressure for at least 40 sec. Repeat with the opposite arm.

Torso stretch with paddle leverage.

Stretching for torso rotation was described in a previous post. Stretch until you can see the stern (back end) of your boat. Hold the stretch with firm, continuous pressure for at least 40 sec. Repeat on the opposite side.

Photos by CarolynD.

When is the best time to stretch? Whenever you feel stiff or sore! Before, during and after kayaking! And don't forget to stretch first thing in the morning on the day after the big kayaking trip. If your muscles are stiff and cold it is important to ease into your stretching slowly and gently, maybe after spending a few minutes in a hot shower.

If you are injured - take it easy until it heals and/or go see your doctor, but whenever you are just a little stiff and sore it is amazing how much better you will feel after you stretch!!

More about: Whitewater Kayaking Techniques. Stretching Techniques. Books on Stretching.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006


Experiencing the Multiple Dimensions of Whitewater Kayaking

The multiple dimensions of kayaking have kept me interested in the sport for all these years. Rivers provide a dynamic environment, always moving, always changing, never the same from moment to moment. Whitewater river trips typically provide periods of frantic excitement interspersed with periods of calm. As captains of our own boats, kayakers get immediate rewards when things go right and immediate consequences when things go wrong. Whether running a whitewater river or playboating, kayaking provides many mental and physical challenges that always provide new things to learn and new things to do. Along the way there can be many other memorable things such as the weather, the geology of the river canyon, the wildlife, and the antics of our fellow kayakers. I like traveling to explore new rivers and revisiting favorite rivers. I enjoy the exercise and the fresh air, I like watching other whitewater kayakers and learning from them, and I like teaching what I know to others. Mark Twain said that rivers have "a new story to tell every day" and I couldn't agree more.

More about: Whitewater River Philosophy & River Quotes.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006


Electra Run, Mokelumne River, kayaking class II, Oct 14, 2006

It was lucky that we checked the flow before heading off to kayak the Gorge Run on SF American River, because "they" just didn't turn on the river. SFA ran at only 200 cfs all day. Not much was flowing anywhere else nearby except for the Mokelumne River, so we were very glad to have that as a backup destination for our day's dose of whitewater.

KimF, CarolynD, JoelH, RobK, BruceH and I kayaked the Electra Run on the Mokelumne River (Amador County, California, USA) at a flow of 850 cfs (CA DWR CDEC Interface). At this flow the whitewater is good, but the surfing is great! Kim paddled a Wave Sport Big EZG, Carolyn had her Dagger RPM, Joel paddled a Prijon Kaituna, Rob had his Perception Overflow, BruceH paddled a Dagger Crossfire, and I paddled my Wave Sport Frankenstein. Had I known that we would run the Mok' I would have brought the SuperEgo kayak, but as it turned out I was really glad to have the Wave Sport Frankenstein kayak.

Talking to some fishermen at put-in, we were informed that the Kokanee salmon run was underway. It turns out that the little brown, six inch fish we saw 2 weeks ago were the Kokanee. They are nothing like the blazing red ten inch Kokanee that I remember from years past. I wonder what's going on up there?

So it turned out to be a nice, casual play day as we surfed our way down the river. Kim demonstrated total mastery of the stern squirt, ripping off one perfect squirt after another.

Having Too Much Fun Surfing at Green Wave

Green Wave was just a little tricky to get onto, and a little tricky to stay on, but once you were there it was some really nice, high speed surfing. On our trip two weeks ago at about the same flow the SuperEgo kayak had a narrow 3 foot slot in which I could surf just between the hole and the wave. The Frankenstein had enough hull speed to go farther out towards the middle of the river and surf on the clean part of the wave. I had to lean far back and keep moving left and right to keep the bow up and avoid pearling out. So with the Frankenstein I had a 6 foot slot to play in, providing lots of room to move around. Fun, fun, fun !!!

We had lunch at Green Wave. As the weather gets cooler we say goodbye until spring to the warm weather boaters in the group, but we say hello to chocolate in my lunch bag, almond M&Ms, yum - yum !! A little more surfing after lunch and we were good to go.

Running and Playing the Big Whitewater Rapids

Everybody ran nice lines at The Slot rapid. I caught an eddy too high up for good photos, then had to reposition, but eventually got some shots. It was tough to find an eddy with a good camera angle, fumble around with the camera, and start taking pictures before everybody had already run the rapid. Oh well, train the photographer first, then later we can train the subjects. At S Curve rapid we all had fun ferrying out to the eddy in the middle of the rapid on river-left. Last trip I got trashed and swam there while paddling the SuperEgo, but in the Frankenstein I could ferry across the whitewater in both directions with the greatest of ease!

Unfortunately, I had maxed the memory card in the camera at S Curve rapid, so I didn't get any pictures at Toilet Bowl rapid. (Got to remember to preview and delete the duds at lunchtime!!) This one is just a bit tougher than any of the other whitewater rapids on the run. We all had good runs at Toilet Bowl, but I think there were some wide eyes and full-power paddling as the water splashed high up in our faces and the big diagonal waves crashed on us from both sides in quick succession.

Then there was another mile of nice, easy whitewater rapids before things got really mellow for the last 2 miles. Away from the roads, this section was really quiet and really pretty. We saw 2 bald eagles, a giant flock of merganzers and a deer. Both of the eagles flew a big loop as we approached, then they perched together in a tree and watched us go by. The big pool did smell kind of fishy. The Kokanee die after spawning upstream, so then many flush downstream, accumulate in this pool and provide a giant feast for the fish-eating birds. Kayaking down to the Middle Bar take-out is definitely worth a few extra miles of shuttle driving.

On the way back we stopped for a pre-dinner aperitif of lime sorbet (on a popsicle stick) and then had a nice dinner at Dos Coytoes Border Cafe in south Davis.

Flickr: More and larger photos from the trip. Most of the photos were taken by BruceT with an Olympus Stylus 720SW digital camera. Thanks to Carolyn for photographing the photographer at Green Wave.

Road map, gas, food & lodging: Jackson, CA - MapQuest.
Local weather: Jackson, CA -

More about: Kayaking Trip Reports.
Mokelumne River Recreation & Conservation Directory.

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Monday, October 09, 2006


River Conservation Organizations - USA Nationwide

Here are the nationwide organizations leading the fight to preserve our rivers.

Non Government Organizations - NGOs

* American Rivers - dedicated to protecting and restoring healthy natural rivers and the variety of life they sustain for people, fish, and wildlife.

* American Whitewater - working to conserve and restore America's whitewater resources and enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely. This is the premier nationwide organization for whitewater boaters.

* National Organization for Rivers - working to conserve natural rivers, and to confirm your legal rights to canoe, kayak, raft, fish, walk along, and otherwise visit rivers.

* River Management Society - professional organization for workers who study, protect, and manage North America's rivers.

* River Network - helping people understand, protect and restore rivers and their watersheds.

Government Organizations

* Wild and Scenic Rivers - National Park Service - preserve selected rivers or sections thereof in their free-flowing condition to protect the water quality of such rivers and to fulfill other vital national conservation purposes.

More about: River Conservation.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Support Proposition 1E for Flood Control in California

I support Proposition 1E on the Nov 7, 2006 ballot in California. Restoration of levees in California's Central Valley is critical for flood prevention and protection of the system that delivers fresh water to urban areas and agriculture throughout the state. Maintaining and upgrading our existing flood control structures provides the most rapid and cost-effective flood control and reduces the need to build costly new flood control structures.

Yes on Propositions 1B, 1E; no on 1C, 1D - insidebayarea.
"We need to make a major investment in levees to avert a catastrophe akin to that which swamped New Orleans last year. We recommend a yes vote on 1E."

On Nov. 7, Californians can choose to build for the future - mercurynews 01oct2006.
The Mercury News supports Prop. 1E and Prop. 84.

Prop. 1E: California's one-legged flood control stool - 27sept2006.
This editorial from the Sacramento Bee supports Prop 1E, but also points out its shortcomings.

Yes on 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E and 84 - Modesto Bee 26sept2006.
The Modesto Bee newspaper supports Prop. 1E and Prop. 84.

Voters being asked to put state into deep debt - Ventura County Star 25sept2006.
The Ventura County Star newspaper opposes the bond issues on the ballot. They prefer a pay-as-you-go system for funding the infrastructure needed in California.

1E yes; 84 no - Press-Enterprise 23sept2006.
The Press-Enterprise newspaper supports Prop. 1E and opposes Prop. 84.

Opinion - Editorial: Bonds for the future - 18sept2006.
The Sacramento Bee newspaper supports Prop. 1E (Flood protection) and Prop. 84 (Water and parks) on the Nov 2006 ballot in California.

Bureau of Reclamation: No levee repair on our dime - 08sept2006.
"The Bureau of Reclamation told a House panel Thursday that it does not want its money paying for levee repairs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."

California's levee system is a disaster waiting to happen - continuitycentral 28feb2006.

"California's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has requested federal assistance in expediting improvement and repair projects on critical sites in the state’s levee system."

More about: River Conservation and Flood Control.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Sacramento Flood Control Sept 2006

(Sacramento CA flood control - 2007 to present - recent insights.)

Maintaining and upgrading of our existing flood control structures is the most rapid and cost-effective method of flood control for California rivers. Everybody should support immediate retrofitting of Folsom Dam to make it more effective in providing the flood control needed for Sacramento. We cannot afford to let the economic and personal devastation experienced on the Gulf Coast to be duplicated during the next big flood in California.

Auburn dam, peripheral canal back on the table for discussion - 18sept2006.
"neither the Auburn dam nor the peripheral canal ever completely faded away -- and both, in fact, are showing signs of revival in an era when global warming, Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans and other factors have changed assumptions about water."

Tempting Fate - Cheaper Folsom Dam fix? - 16june2006.
"A new spillway at Folsom Dam could double Sacramento's flood protection -- and do so up to nine years sooner and $650 million cheaper than previous plans."

Auburn Dam Would Be an “Expensive Mistake - All-Outdoors Blog 27feb2006.
This article points out the errors in statistics that supporters use in their attempts to justify building of Auburn Dam on the American River in California.

Tempting fate: A torrent of doubts - 19feb2006.
"Since Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans, Auburn dam supporters have rallied behind the project anew, suggesting it should be revived to protect Sacramento from a similar disaster. The debate over the dam has always been politically charged, but an analysis by The Bee found an Auburn dam also could be an expensive mistake." This article also has links to many other related articles about flood control and levees in the sidebar.

More about: Auburn Dam, River Conservation and Flood Control.

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Monday, October 02, 2006


Sacramento Flood Control 2005

Now that New Orleans has been wiped out Sacramento rises to the top of the list of most flood vulnerable American cities. Kayakers, whitewater boaters, fisherman and others who use our rivers for recreation should pay close attention to flood control issues. Proponents of dam building are always waiting for any chance to build expensive new dams that destroy the environment.

Wake up to flood threat - 06nov2005.
"Is Sacramento really the country's most flood-threatened major city? ... The answer was unequivocal: Sacramento is numero uno."

Tempting fate: Are we next? - 30oct2005.
"There is, however, no major city in America more at risk of a catastrophic New Orleans-style flood than Sacramento."

We must learn from Katrina's hard lessons - 30oct2005.
"We'll examine decisions made to develop in floodplains, ask about maintenance of levees, point out sections in the region that are most prone to flooding. We'll look at potential solutions through a built-up Folsom Dam or a new Auburn dam, and push state and federal legislators as well as environmentalists to answer questions about flood protection that have been unresolved for decades. We have too much at stake here not to ask tough questions before a catastrophe strikes."

More about: River Conservation and Flood Control.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006


Electra Run, Mokelumne River, kayaking class II, Sept 30, 2006

BruceH, CarolynD, KenyaO, MasaO and I kayaked the Electra Run on the Mokelumne River (Amador County, California, USA) at a flow of 800 cfs (CA DWR CDEC Interface).

BruceH paddled a Dagger Crossfire, Carolyn had her Dagger RPM, KenyaO paddled an inflatable kayak, MasaO paddled his Eskimo Kendo and I paddled BobL's Dagger SuperEgo. Due to a gear packing error we had two "open boaters" (and only one of them had a self-bailing boat). So we kept a close eye on our two open boaters. KenyaO had a great day in the IK, including some surfing on little playspots, and our other open boater did a lot of bailing the boat on shore.

California fuchisas were blooming in blazing red, and a composite species was blooming with white petals and a yellow center. We saw lots of little fish swimming upstream in the eddies and occasionally jumping up into the air. The kokanee salmon had not yet come up from the reservoir downstream, so this will be something we can look forward to later in October.

Waters of the Many Dozen Playspots

As September draws to a close we finally have gotten down to typical July/August flows. At 800 cfs we still found lots of playspots on the run, but not quite as many as we had on previous trips at slightly higher flow rates. BUT finally we could surf on Green Wave. Entering from river-left I ferried across just below the hole and then powered into the wave right next to the hole. MasaO & I got onto the wave on almost every try, but other boaters got on the wave occasionally or not at all. There was a 4 foot slot where the SuperEgo provided breathtaking high speed surfing, but any farther out the wave was not steep enough for the SuperEgo to avoid washing out the backside.

At S Curve rapid I caught the little eddy on the left in the middle of the rapid. The eddy flow was quite a few inches higher than the downstream flow, so even with all of my downstream momentum the SuperEgo barely punched into the eddy. Then the eddy line just gobbled me up as I tried to paddle out of the eddy. I got into a good setup position, but the roll didn't feel right and ended in failure. My second roll attempt also felt wrong and also failed. I foolishly didn't even get the breath of air that I needed on the failed rolls, so there was no third roll attempt. Suddenly there I was swimming at takeout. Later Carolyn told me that I was on the eddy line for both of my roll attempts, so that explains why the rolls failed. The offside roll that I haven't practiced for many years might have worked under these circumstances, but I didn't even think to try it at the time. I really need to practice that offside roll so its ready when needed!!

More about: Kayaking Trip Reports.

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