Monday, July 30, 2007


Pigeon Point Run, Trinity River, kayaking class III, July 29, 2007

Fewer, bigger rapids made a contrast from the the day before.

Despite the tough day on Saturday we all woke up and broke camp pretty efficiently and went to Mt Shasta city for a nice breakfast in a little cafe. Then we drove down to Redding and west to the Trinity River.

The Pigeon Point Run on the Trinity River (Trinity County, California, USA) was flowing at 460 cfs (data from Dreamflows). Here is my Pigeon Point Run whitewater guide.

After the previous day's adventure of rock scraping it was hard to believe that a "big river" like the Trinity would be runnable at 450 cfs, but commercial rafts were launching so we knew that there would be enough flow for our kayaks. I had run this river a couple of times many years ago, but my recollections of the run were few. It turns out that in this pool-and-drop section of river the rapids form at constrictions in the riverbed, so 450 cfs and some gradient can make some pretty punchy rapids. On the other hand, with a strong upstream wind all day the long pools probably added up to as much flatwater paddling as we had done the day before on the reservoir.

The runs we kayaked this trip on the McCloud and Trinity Rivers were really different from each other in a multitude of ways. The Trinity was lower in elevation with madrone and oak trees along the shore. The road was right by the river the entire way, offering a multitude of possible put-ins and take-outs. The Trinity had warmer water, total sun, little or no shade and warm breezes. With fewer, more powerful rapids we found ourselves scouting quite a bit. Eddies at the bottoms of the rapids on the Trinity made good places for photography. We found some really nice large and small surfing spots on the Trinity, but there were very few of them on the McCloud.

Whitewater excitement - big drop, big fun !!

Hell Hole Rapid was a great whoop-de-do !! We had some good runs there and a few flubs. I drifted in slowly on a pretty good line, but a little to the right of my plan. At the big final drop I penciled straight in and slammed really hard on a rock at the bottom. It took a little too long to flush out and I was running out of air when the water still felt too chaotic to make a roll so I bailed. It was an easy swim to pull my boat and paddle into the eddy. I was lucky to get away with just a souvenir flat spot on the bow end of my boat. Gotta do better there next time !! One strong paddle stroke to launch me off the lip of the final drop might have improved my outcome, and I will definitely run a line farther left in the future.

JimH kayaking Hell Hole Rapid
• JimH kayaking the far left line at Hell Hole Rapid.
BruceT photos from this run. JimH photos.

By the time we finished all of that photography, scouting, surfing, and river running it was getting late by the time we got off the river, so we dashed back to Redding and got there just before the daylight ran out. PaulG & I made a quick dinner stop for fast food, then got on the highway and made it home by about midnight.

More about:
McCloud(III),Trinity(III) with Kenya - California Whitewater Paddling.
This part of the Trinity River is protected in the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Program.
California Rivers - Whitewater Kayaking Trip Reports.
Whitewater Guides for California Rivers.

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Upper Run, McCloud River, kayaking class III, July 28, 2007

A glorious warm sunny morning in the high country

We awoke to a serenade of birds chirping and bullfrogs croaking. The road in front of the resort offered inspiring views of Mt Shasta in the morning sunlight. After a leisurely breakfast we broke camp, shuttled a vehicle to takeout and then drove to put-in.

We went to the Upper Run on the McCloud River (Siskiyou County, California, USA). Check out my Upper Run McCloud whitewater guide. The river was flowing at 775 cfs (data from Dreamflows), but this is measured at the bottom of the run. Springs gushing out of the canyon wall add significant flow to the river, so the plan was to put-in downstream at a medium sized spring where we had put-in sometimes in the past. From there on down we expected enough flow to run the river. Four of us had been on this section river before at a range of springtime flows. We knew where the tough spots would be and we expected the whitewater might even be easier at a lower flow in summertime. The plan for Saturday was to have an easy warmup day to get ready for a tougher run on Sunday. Midsummer in a drought year we knew that there wouldn't be enough water to run Lower Falls on the McCloud River or the steep mile of whitewater river just below it.

We stopped at the falls for the view and a group photo. We continued south down the dirt road and found that a new river access point had been build since the last time any of us had been there. Guessing that we were pretty close to our intended put-in we decided to launch our kayaks there.

The river showed its fangs and we had more adventure than we expected

Well, we weren't close enough to the first spring! There was only enough flow for our boats to scrape and bump through rocky rapids spaced about every 50 feet in a pretty steep riverbed. There was a lot of serious boat and paddle abuse and quite a bit of pushing off the rocks with our hands in places where there wasn't enough water to maneuver with our paddles. It was tricky, challenging, strenuous and slow going, but we all got through it fine. Fortunately, we didn't crack or bend any of the long kayaks in our elderly fleet of boats (2 Crossfires, 2 Frankensteins, Kendo, Jive and a new inflatable kayak).

Once we got to the first springs I was greatly relieved as we took our break, but there were still a few more scrapey rapids for a while downstream of there. The flow was much better after we passed the second springs, but it was still very strenuous, technical whitewater boating. JimH did a masterful job of leading the group down good routes, but everybody had to be on guard at all times because the river continued to be a minefield of shallow fang rocks hidden in the dark waters of this narrow river deep in the shade of a tall, lush green forest. I think that everybody had a few extreme moments of getting broached on rocks, but most of these incidents were resolved pretty quickly and easily.

BruceT pictures from this run. JimH pictures.

We had our lunch break at Big Springs, where a giant gush of water pours out of the canyon wall. This is the last legal stopping spot before entering a long section of private property on both sides of the river. The steep section of whitewater just below Big Springs was more challenging than I had ever seen it. It was a chaotic mess of holes, seams and tricky crosscurrents just lined up one after the other with no recovery time in between. We had one swimmer here who made it through but ended up cold and shivering. Fortunately we were able to get him into the sun, strip off some wet gear, put on some extra gear from drybags, feed him some chocolate and get him back into paddling condition before too long.

The three miles of continuous class II below this steep section was not as white as I have seen it in the springtime, but it continued to be far more difficult to kayak at this flow. Fang rocks were everywhere in the dark shaded waters. While constantly watching the water I hope everybody had some time to look up and see the big picture of the incredibly beautiful forest through which we were kayaking and the perfect crystal clarity of the water wherever there was enough light to see into the water. I had another big sigh of relief when we got to the bridge, because everybody had made it through the toughest part of the whitewater in pretty good shape.

At Fish Creek it is helpful for everybody to "willingly suspend disbelief" while floating past the Hearst family's incredible collection of fancy cottages and castles. We stopped on a beach at the top of the reservoir to warm up in the sun, get a bite to eat and readjust clothing for the paddle down the reservoir. I just relaxed, got into a good paddling rhythm and chugged my way for the three miles across the reservoir to take-out at Tarantula Gulch boat ramp. MasaO did a heroic job of paddling his son's inflatable kayak while towing the plastic kayak that he had paddled in the whitewater section.

It turned out to be a much, much longer and harder day than we were expecting, but that only added to the feeling of success at the end. We had dinner at the lodge in McCloud, but I was still pretty much a zombie even after food, fluids and some rest. I was really happy to go back to Friday's R.V. resort and crash for another night.

More about: California River Trip Reports - Kayaking Whitewater.
See also: Whitewater River Guides - California.

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Hiking for a view of the whitewater along the lower McCloud River, July 27

Scenic area near Mt Shasta, CA

I carpooled with Hubert, BruceH and TedD to the City of McCloud (Siskiyou County, California, USA) and then south on Squaw Valley Road to the Lake McCloud Dam. Then we turned onto the dirt road and drove down to Ash Camp (N 41.11690 W 122.06068 - copy/paste these coordinates into the Find box at ACME Mapper - Topo view).

Ash Camp is a nice little primitive campsite that is on the lower McCloud River. The Pacific Crest Trail runs along this section of the McCloud River enabling us to take a short hike and check out the river . A feisty little rattlesnake on the trail coiled and rattled at us. This stopped us for a moment, but then the rattlesnake headed downhill and we were able to continue down the trail. I was dreaming that this class IV section of river might mellow out to an easier level at summertime flows, but that was clearly not the case. At a flow of 300 cfs (from Dreamflows) the rapids were still very loud and very white from our vantage points on the road and on the trail. I won't be kayaking this section of river anytime soon. The trail was great and the river canyon was very pretty, so its definitely worth going back to hike a little more of it.

More pictures from this hike.

Camping at Friday's R.V. Resort

Then we drove back north on Squaw Valley Road to our campsite at Friday's R.V. Resort (phone 530-964-2878). This was a great meeting place for our group because we could reserve a campsite in advance. The resort is excellent for tent camping because the sites are well spaced in a very nice wooded area. (There are BLM or Forest Service campsites in the area, but they don't allow reservations and may be filled up with fishermen coming to this world renowned fly fishing stream.)

Eventually we were joined by MasaO, KenyaO and JimH, and later PaulG. We enjoyed the evening around the campfire for a while and then sacked out. I misjudged the coldness of the summer nights at this elevation (again !) and didn't bring a warm enough sleeping bag, so I spent a cold night doing more shivering than sleeping. Hopefully I'll learn this lesson before I make this mistake too many more times.

More about:
Trip Reports - Whitewater River Kayaking in California.
Hiking & Camping Trip Reports - BRT Insights.
Siskiyou County Hiking Trails - Redding Wiki.
California Hiking Trails - Statewide Information.
California Maps - Atlas & Gazetteer by Delorme, 2008.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Kayakers, Rafters and Canoers Need the Best Sunscreen Protection

Have fun in the sun, but don't suffer later

Kayaking keeps me out in the sun for an entire day, so any exposed skin gets a big dose of UV exposure. Sunscreen helps protect us against sunburn, premature skin wrinkling and skin cancer. Absence of a sunburn at the end of the day is good, but doesn't ensure that we were fully protected against the delayed effects of skin wrinkling or skin cancer.

A recent article describes some new technologies in sunscreen products and some advice about how to use sunscreen most effectively. Ideally we should apply a thick layer of sunscreen well before going out into the sun to allow time for the active ingredients to be absorbed into our skin. Then we should reapply frequently if we remain out in the sun for an extended period. (sacbee 17july)

It may be surprising, but not all sunscreens are safe and effective. The Environmental Working Group has produced a Cosmetic Safety Database that has some surprising information to help us make smarter sunscreen purchases.

Recent experiments also urge caution in use of the new products which contain both sunscreen and insect repellent. Mixing these ingredients together may help them to penetrate past our skin and into our bloodstream. (sacbee 22july)

Sun-screen savers - sacbee 17july2007.

Sunscreen Summary — What Works and What's Safe - Cosmetic Safety Database.

Caution urged in mixing insect, sun protection - sacbee 22july2007.

See also: Choose a good sunscreen & use it well - BRT Kayaking 10july2007.

More about: Supplies and Equipment for Kayaking.

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Monday, July 23, 2007


Rumsey Run, Cache Creek, kayaking class II+, July 22, 2007

Kayakers explore the river in minute detail !!

PaulG & I left Davis, CA at 8 AM and met JimH in Winters, CA at 8:30 to get an early start on our trip. After a quick gas & grocery stop we were off. We went to the Rumsey Run on Cache Creek (Yolo County, California, USA). See my Rumsey Run whitewater guide. The creek was flowing at 750 cfs based on the estimate at Dreamflows. This turned out to be a really great flow with lots of surfing spots.

Despite our early departure from home a big group of commercial boaters was launching just as we got to put-in, but they were gone by the time we finished getting dressed and doing a little surfing upstream of put-in. The river got a little crowded in the early part of the day due to other commercial groups coming from various launch sites, but after our lunch stop we had the river pretty much to ourselves. I think on Sunday the commercials launch early and get off the river early to make sure people have enough time to drive home. By the time we got to take-out we were some of the last boats on the river for the day and it was only around 3:30, so clearly a late departure for a Sunday boat trip would be a great way to avoid the crowds on this creek.

We had a nice leisurely lunch high up on a terrace overlooking the river just upstream of the county campground. After blogging about sunscreen recently I'm now putting sunscreen into my lunch bag and I remembered to reapply sunscreen after lunch.

The whitewater surfing was better today than it was earlier in the summer when the creek was flowing at 900 cfs. PaulG was in his new/old CorsicaS, while I was paddling BobL's SuperEgo and Jim was paddling his EasyG ??.

After all these trips the SuperEgo is still teaching me how it wants to catch eddies, but I'm slowly catching on. Lots of little things have to be recalibrated after paddling longer faster boats for all those years. Here are some pictures of PaulG and JimH surfing at various spots and some videos of them surfing the whitewater. Jim's kayaking photos. Jim's whitewater videos.

Jim had a little paddle trouble, but used his river knife to make a temporary repair. That was good enough for class II to get us down the run, but when we got to the only class III rapid on the run I hiked back and swapped paddles, so here is the video of JimH kayaking Mother rapid using my paddle.

Note: If you want to view more of my videos just make a favorite or bookmark, or open a new tab in your web browser to BRT Kayaking Channel or JimH Whitewater Channel. Youtube will try to take you to other people's kayaking videos after viewing one of ours.

On the way home we stopped at The Corner Store in Guinda, CA and got popsicles and various rehydration fluids.

More about: Trip Reports - Kayaking Whitewater on California Rivers.
California Whitewater River Guides.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Trinity River Pigeon Point Run

River Guide & Maps - California White Water.

River Flow Data.

River Difficulty.

This whitewater run is class III at the summertime flows when I have kayaked there.

Description - Trinity River Pigeon Point Run.

This run is fed by the release from Lewiston Dam. The USA National Wild & Scenic Rivers Program ensures that this section of the Trinity River "shall be preserved in free-flowing condition." (Trinity County, California, USA).

Distance: Pigeon Point to Big Flat = 5.5 mi.

Driving Directions, Distance, Estimated Time & Road Conditions.

Mapquest provides directions, distance & time from your house to the river.
* From Davis, CA to Helena, CA - driving time 3 hours, 30 minutes.

California Road Conditions (Delays or closures due to weather, construction, etc.)
* California Travel Information -
* Road Conditions - California Dept Transportation.

Topographic River Map, Road Map & Local Business Search.

• The map below is interactive - click and drag on the map to adjust the location.
• Point or DoubleClick on the red markers below to see their names.
• Use the tool on the left to zoom and pan.
• Click on the Map button for a road map, Topo button for topographic map.
• Click on Google logo for road map & local business search (gas, food, camping).
• Full screen topo map and coordinates of additional landmarks - see below.
Topographic map user instructions.

Topographic River Map.

Full-Screen Topo Map: Trinity River Pigeon Point Run.
A=Put-in. F=Takeout.

River Landmarks - Geographic Coordinates.
(A)(B)(C) locations are marked on the Acme Mapper topo map above, or copy/paste these coordinates into the search box at Google Maps or the Find box at Acme Mapper.

Local weather in Weaverville, California.

Online River Guides & River Flow Data for Paddle Boating.

Trinity River Directory.
(Display options - alphabetical 100. See section 1.)

Whitewater River Guidebooks & Webguides.

Best Whitewater in California, Third Edition 1998. (pg. 32-33)
California Whitewater - A Guide to the Rivers, Third Edition 1995. (pg. 201-204)
Paddling Northern California by Charlie Pike. (pg 97-98)
Western Whitewater From the Rockies to the Pacific, 1994. River guidebook, pg 369.
West Coast River Touring - Rogue River Canyon and South, 1974. (pg. 106)
California River Maps - Atlas & Gazetteer by Delorme, 2008.

Whitewater Trip Reports.

Whitewater Kayaking on the Trinity River video - LiquidFusionKayak 28oct2010
Slot Run on the Trinity River photos - liquidfusionkayaking oct2010.
Trinity River Pigeon Point Run with my son - California Whitewater Paddling 19sept2009.
Pigeon Point Trinity River video - havoc125125 27jan2009
Pigeon Point Run, Trinity River, kayaking class III, July 29, 2007.
California Whitewater Paddling: Trinity (Pigeon Point, III) - CA49rivers.
California Whitewater Paddling - Trinity River Pigeon Point Run 04jan2006.
Pigeon Point Run, Trinity River - Trinity Alps Photo dec2008.
Trinity River Kayaking video - Hell Hole 06july2007.
Trinity River Pigeon Point Run - trailrunr 23sept2004.

Pigeon Point, Trinity River - daysontheriver 22may2007

River Recreation Links - Trinity River.

Trinity River Recreation Directory. Recreation links for Trinity River valley area. (Display options - alphabetical 100. Section 1=whitewater, 2=rafting, 3=conservation, 4=fishing, 5=camping-hiking, 6=local-info)

More about:
Using these guides to white water river paddleboating - BRT Kayaking.
Trinity River, Coffee Creek, Indian Creek, Canyon Creek, New River, Hayfork Creek.
• Rivers & creeks nearby: (Klamath River, Indian Creek, Elk Creek, Clear Creek), Cal Salmon River, Klamath River Valley Region.
California Whitewater River Paddleboating Guides.

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Monday, July 16, 2007


C to G Run, SF American River, kayaking class II+, 15july2007

California whitewater - what could be better than messing around in boats??!!

BruceH & I packed up the shuttle bike, made a really leisurely 11 AM departure and drove up to the Coloma to Lotus Run on SF American River (El Dorado County, California, USA). The gauge said the river was running at 1600 cfs, but it was noticeably different from the 1600 cfs flows we have had on other trips there this spring. I think the flows were a bit lower than we had on previous trips and many of the playspots were more fun at this flow.

Once we got away from the big crowd at put-in we had a pretty uncrowded river trip the rest of the day. We surfed a few places in the long rapid leading down to Gremlin wave-hole (does this rapid have a name?) and then played a little at Gremlin. I got a few good rides there, but Gremlin was growling at me the whole time!

Our lunchtime entertainment was two guys board surfing a rapid using a rope tethered to a big rock on the shore. The first wild blackberries of the season tasted great!

The surf wave just above Camp Lotus was really great at today's flow. Just a bit easier to get on and stay on, it made the surfing really smooth and mellow. There was a big crowd of hot dogs at Barking Dog Rapid so we watched for a few minutes but didn't stop to surf there. We continued surfing, ferrying, eddying down the river and saw just a few other boaters after Barking Dog. We caught up to some other boaters at the Greenwood Creek take-out, so we were fortunate again to get a ride and avoid biking the shuttle.

For dinner on the way home we tried our best to go somewhere else for variety, but the place we picked turned out to be closed on Sunday. Then we quickly reverted to our real plan A and went back to Thai Style Dining in Cameron Park, CA. Mmm mmm good!!

More about: Trip Reports - Kayaking Whitewater Rivers in California.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007


McCloud River Upper Run

Whitewater River Guide & Maps - California.

River Flow Data.

This run is fed by snowmelt and springs coming from Mount Shasta (Siskyou County & Shasta County, California, USA).

River Difficulty vs. Flow Rate vs. Put-in Location.

Different put-in locations can be used depending upon the river flow and the level of difficulty desired.

Driving Directions, Distance, Estimated Time & Road Conditions.

Mapquest provides directions, distance & time from your house to the river.
* From Davis, CA to McCloud, CA - driving time 3 hours, 23 minutes.

California Road Conditions (Delays or closures due to weather, construction, etc.)
* California Travel Information -
* Road Conditions - California Dept Transportation.

Distance: 11 miles (3 mi on reservoir)

Topographic River Map, Road Map & Local Business Search.

• The map below is interactive - click and drag on the map to adjust the location.
• Point or DoubleClick on the red markers below to see their names.
• Use the tool on the left to zoom and pan.
• Click on the Map button for a road map, Topo button for topographic map.
• Click on Google logo for road map & local business search (gas, food, camping).
• Full screen topo map and coordinates of additional landmarks - see below.
Topographic map user instructions.

Topographic River Map.

Full-Screen Topo Map: McCloud River Upper Run.
A=Put-in. Zoom out to see H=Takeout.

River Landmarks - Geographic Coordinates.
(A)(B)(C) locations are marked on the Acme Mapper topo map above, or copy/paste these coordinates into the search box at Google Maps or the Find box at Acme Mapper.

Local weather in McCloud, CA California.

Online River Guides & River Flow Data for Paddle Boating.

McCloud River Directory.
(Display options - alphabetical 100. See section 1.)

River Guidebooks & Webguides.

Whitewater Trip Reports.

Upper Run, McCloud River, kayaking class III, July 28, 2007.
California Whitewater Paddling: McCloud(III),Trinity(III) with Kenya - CA49rivers.
McCloud River II-III - River Lover 02dec2007.
Lower McCloud River - River Lover 21april2008.
California River Maps - Atlas & Gazetteer by Delorme, 2008.

River Recreation Links - McCloud River.

McCloud River Recreation Directory. Recreation links for McCloud River valley area. (Display options - alphabetical 100. Section 1=whitewater, 2=rafting, 3=conservation, 4=fishing, 5=camping-hiking, 6=local-info)

More about:
Using these guides to white water river paddleboating - BRT Kayaking.
• Rivers & creeks nearby: Sacramento River, Pit River, Sacramento River Valley Region.
California Whitewater River Guides.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


Sacramento River Flood Control Needs an Urban/Rural Strategy

Farms are important for prevention of flooding in our cities

"When a farm floods during a huge storm, the lands retain and absorb waters that otherwise would flow downstream. Urbanizing these areas and fortifying subdivisions behind new levees would have the effect of sending a lot more water downstream during high river flows." (reported today in the Sacramento Bee)

Land development, water development and preserving the environment are all interconnected

Sacramento is the U.S. city with the greatest risk of flooding. We cannot afford to raise the risks even higher through more of the foolish land development practices that we have permitted in the past throughout the Sacramento River valley. I applaud Rep. Matsui for getting the discussion started. I hope that our political leaders can come up with some package of economic incentives to keep flood-prone farmland in farming and some zoning regulations to prohibit flood-prone lands from being foolishly developed.

More about: River Conservation and Flood Control in California.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Choose a good sunscreen & use it well

Boaters are often outdoors all day, so our exposed skin needs sun protection.

We need to be smart about using sunscreen to reduce our risks of sunburn and skin cancer. There are some new sunscreen technologies on the market that kayakers and other outdoor sports enthusiasts should know about.

1. "Your sunscreen must have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher with broad-spectrum protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB)," says New York University dermatologist Darrel Rigel. (

2. "When purchasing sunscreen, the Sun Protection Factor or SPF measures how effectively the sunscreen formula limits skin exposure to UV-B rays that burn the skin. The higher the SPF the more protection the sunscreen will provide against UV-B rays." (Library of Congress)

3. "Ingredients like benzophenones, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789) and ecamsule (Mexoryl SX), extend the coverage beyond the UVB range and into the UVA range, helping to make sunscreens broad-spectrum." (

4. "Apply sunscreen approximately 30 minutes before being in the sun (for best results) so that it can be absorbed by the skin and less likely to wash off when you perspire." ( Many sunscreens tend to damage drysuit gaskets, so sunscreen is often applied in the brief moment after a whitewater boater gets dressed and just before jumping into the river. Thus, we typically don't get the full benefit of our sunscreen because we start washing it off before it has had a chance to absorb into the skin.

5. "Apply sunscreen often throughout the day ..." "... reapply sunscreen after swimming or strenuous exercise." ( Kayakers should make a habit of reapplying sunscreen at lunch, especially if their sunscreen application at put-in was done just moments before getting onto the river.

6. "Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chance of sunburn." "Even on a cloudy day, 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds." ( Put on the sunscreen no matter what!

7. "April 4, 2007 - Neutrogena, Coppertone, Anthelios, Blue Lizard and SolBar are the brands of sunscreen most recommended by the nation’s leading dermatologists to their patients and friends." “And Neutrogena has strengthened its leadership position this year, expanding its variety of formulations and using its Helioplex technology to make sunscreen ingredients more effective.” (

Fellow boaters!! What is your favorite sunscreen??

Kayakers, rafters and canoers need sunscreens that won't sting our eyes whenever the whitewater gets splashed into our faces. Does anybody know of a sunscreen that is less damaging to our drysuit gaskets? What is your favorite sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection? Please add your comments on the blog.

More about: Reviews - Equipment and Supplies for Kayaking.

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Monday, July 09, 2007


Rep. Matsui wants farms to continue serving as flood buffer for Sacramento

Flood threat can be managed in part via better rules for land conservation and land development.

"Rep. Doris Matsui is pressing controversial legislation to reduce the flood threat from the Sacramento River by expanding farmland conservation programs throughout the river's vast Northern California watershed." (Sacramento Bee 08july2007)

I support Matsui and the goal of maintaining flood-prone lands along our rivers as farmland. Farmland also provides places where precipitation can soak into the ground. In developed areas the water quickly runs off of the roofs and pavement and increases flooding in the nearby watercourses. Hopefully the property-rights concerns of rural land owners can be addressed somehow as the legislation is further developed.

The insane land use patterns of the past are not sustainable.

Society cannot afford to build more multi-billion dollar dams and levees to ensure that every multi-million dollar land development on low-lying land is protected against flooding. Sacramento is currently the U.S. city with the greatest risk of flooding. Continuing our foolish land development practices in the Sacramento River valley will only increase the risk of a catastrophic flood inundating the city of Sacramento.

Flood-prone lands should be used for agriculture, nature preserves, recreation and river channels. Frequent small floods can be managed or controlled to some extent, but the rare giant floods cannot be prevented. The cost to society is much less if the giant flood spreads over farmland rather than inundating a city like Sacramento. All new developments of towns and cities should be built only on higher ground that is less susceptible to flooding. Nobody should have the rights to make foolish developments on flood-prone lands and then expect a taxpayer bailout to provide flood control for any homeowners or businesses that were foolish enough to locate there.

More about: Flood Control in Sacramento, CA (California).

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Sunday, July 08, 2007


Rumsey Run, Cache Creek, kayaking class II+, July 7, 2007

Best whitewater river in Yolo County !!

The Cache Creek Rumsey Run (Yolo County, California, USA) was flowing at a lively 900 cfs, based on an estimate at Dreamflows. (The CDEC gauge for this run has been unreliable.) See my whitewater guide for the Rumsey Run.

BruceH & I packed up the shuttle bike, had a cup of coffee and made a leisurely 10 AM departure from Davis, CA. We drove up to Cache Creek and locked up the bike at take-out. Just then TomO and Galen drove up and asked about teaming up on the shuttle. Such a deal, I really didn't really want to bike the shuttle. We got to the put-in at Bear Creek just as the throngs of inflatable boaters were getting ready to launch. We'll have to leave home a bit later next time! We did a little surfing upstream from put-in. When we started downstream the crowds were gone and we had a pretty uncrowded river experience all day.

We did some surfing on the nice ledge just below the Cache Creek Canyon Regional Park Upper Site (coordinates N 38.92296 W 122.32796 - see Rumsey Run topo at Acme Mapper). At this flow there was a wave-hole on river-right for short boats and a pretty nice long boat surfing wave out in the middle of the river, so two boats could surf at once. I took a couple of short movie clips there with my Olympus 720SW waterproof camera. I couldn't see much in the viewfinder in the camera, so I didn't get the camera out any more the rest of the day. Later on I realized that I was boating with my driving glasses, so now I've learned that the polarized sunglasses that I normally use for boating are important for photography on the river.

Note: youtube will try to take you to other people's kayaking videos after viewing one of mine. If you want to view more of my videos just make a favorite or bookmark, or open a new tab in your web browser to BRT Kayaking Channel.

Even when the river is kind of brown its interesting to note that the white water is still really white!!

After so many training trips recently it was amazingly mellow to boat with an experienced group. At Mother rapid we just lined up and went for it. Easy, simple, no problem!

Cookies at take-out were great, but it was also necessary to stop at the corner store in Guinda, CA for the greatest fruit popsicles. Mmm, mmm, good! We stopped for a very nice dinner at Chuy's Taqueria in Winters, CA. Then we took the scenic route via Stevenson Road bridge to get back home to Davis, CA.

More about: Trip Reports - Kayaking Whitewater Rivers in California.
California Whitewater River Guides.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Forward Sweep Stroke - Kayak Paddling Technique

Good technique will give good performance on whitewater river trips.

Whitewater kayaks are designed to turn quickly and easily. Waves and currents in a whitewater river will often spin the boat in undesirable directions if you let them. Sweep strokes are important to keep the kayak turned in the direction that you want to go.

1. 90 Degree Rule. Set the hand positions on the paddle. With paddle held on top of head adjust hand position so the elbows are at a 90 degree angle. It is a common beginner mistake to hold their hands too close together on the paddle shaft. Correct hand position sets you up for good power and endurance while paddling and for minimizing your risk of injury. IMPORTANT - mark this position on your paddle with tape if necessary. Don't let your hands drift closer together as the day proceeds. See previous post on Principles of kayak paddling strokes.

2. Paddler's Box. Straight arms, paddle shaft and your chest make the paddler's box.
a) Maintain straight arms through the power phase of all paddle strokes. Hold the paddle extended as far as possible from your body. Don't be a paddle-hugger !!
b) Power the paddle with straight arms and torso rotation - not elbow bending !!!
c) Most paddlers bend their elbows a little at the end of a paddle stroke (i.e. during the recovery and setup for the next stroke).

3. Rotate your paddler's box to one side and plant the paddle in the water. Paddle blade should be completely submerged in the water (mistake in the video). Keep arms straight. Paddle should be kept as low as possible and nearly parallel to the water surface.

4. Execute the sweep stroke. Sweep the paddle in a wide arc from the bow (front end of kayak) to the stern (rear end). Keeping your arms straight helps to ensure that you will power the paddle with big, powerful torso muscles, not skinny little arm muscles. See previous post on Sweep Stroke for Turning Your Kayak - Animation.

How good is your technique when kayaking?

Nowadays most digital cameras can take a short video that will quickly show you what your paddling technique looks like. Those who take the time to perfect their paddling techniques will be rewarded with greater performance and more fun on whitewater river trips !!

More about: Whitewater River Kayaking Techniques.

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Monday, July 02, 2007


Video Feedback for Whitewater Kayak Skills Training

Will video feedback help kayakers to learn and/or perfect their paddle technique skills?

Here is a video of me surfing on a tricky little river wave. Despite its small size, good edge control skills are needed to surf this wave. The superEgo kayak makes it easy to see how I used edge control to initiate the little left and right moves that allowed me to stay on the wave. Notice that the paddle is kept low, my arms are kept extended pretty straight and torso rotation is used to power the paddle. Very little paddling is needed to stay on the wave if you use edge control to maximum advantage. Some additional videos of other kayakers surfing on this wave are at BRT Kayaking Channel.

The video was taken with my Olympus 720SW waterproof digital camera. Image quality is not up to videocam standards, but is good enough to see what the kayaker is doing. The purple streaks in the video are caused by shooting into the sun. Notice that the image quality is better at the end of the video when the camera was shooting in a different direction.

MOV format videos were converted to AVI format using Any Video Converter software, then imported into Windows Movie Maker software for editing.

More about: Kayaking Techniques for Whitewater Rivers.


Sunday, July 01, 2007


Kayaking on a class I+ river by moonlight

Sunscreen is not needed, but bring your vampire repellent!!

If you have good boating skills and do the necessary planning, then kayaking by the light of a full moon can give a fresh perspective on a river trip. A section of river that is very familiar and very easy by daylight becomes a new challenge when explored by moonlight. We were very careful to scout our put-in and take-out in advance by daylight, making especially sure that we wouldn't miss our take-out in the dark.

We got there a little early, so we waited for while at put-in and watched the last light from sunset fade away in the west and the stars and planets appear in the darkening sky. Then we launched when we saw the first glow of some moonlight in the east. One boat was overly eager to get going and launched without its paddler, but once it was recaptured the boat was well-behaved for the rest of the night.

Heading down the river in the very faint twilight it was quite a shock when we got to a gap in the trees along the shoreline and suddenly we were bathed in full moonlight. It felt as if somebody had switched on a spotlight. Pretty quickly the moon rose above the treeline and then we had full moonlight for the rest of the trip.

Vision was greatly reduced relative to that in the daytime, especially the lack of color vision and reduced depth perception. While still straining to see as much as possible, I became more aware of sounds and the feelings of the boat interacting with waves and currents in the water. Even the easiest of class II- rapids were heard long before they were seen. Tension built as I struggled to see, realized that I couldn't see as much as I am used to, then used whatever sensory inputs I could to deal with the situation.

Pay extra attention to safety

The hazard profile for a moonlight river trip is different from that in daytime. It is extra important to keep the group together because boaters who drift apart quickly become unrecognizable dots in the distance. It is hard to recognize hazards at a distance. It is critical to know what hazards look like in the daytime and how to avoid them because you will have less time to react when a hazard finally becomes recognizable in the moonlight. To avoid losing people and gear make sure you don't swim and don't ever let go of your paddle! If a swimmer rescue was ever needed it would be exceedingly difficult to recognize hazards along the shore, so it would be really critical to find a safe place to get to shore. The shoreline on the side where the moon is located was in a deep, dark shadow from the trees along the shoreline. Most places the only hope of finding a safe beach for a rescue would have been on the opposite shoreline where the light was typically much better.

We heard and/or saw lots of wildlife, including deer, beavers, ducks & geese, owl, bats and crickets. Fortunately no human wildlife was encountered, either on or off the river.

Newman's chocolate chip cookies were a big treat at take-out.

More about:
This part of the lower American River is protected in the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Program.
Trip Reports - California Whitewater River Kayaking.

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