Kayaking

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

Balancing access and conservation in an urban environment By Leonie Sherman Permitted paddlers access the San Lorenzo River for the first time at an event hosted by the City of Santa Cruz and Coastal Watershed Council (Laurie Egan/CWC). It can take years to get a stop sign installed in Santa Cruz. So nobody is surprised that the process of opening the San Lorenzo River to recreational boat use is a slow one. The section of river under debate is just over a mile long and can be paddled in about half an hour, but residents are resigned to a lengthy political slog before anyone can put in their kayak beneath the Soquel Avenue bridge. The trendy boutiques and microbreweries of downtown Pacific Avenue were once an alluvial floodplain. After a huge flood in 1955, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed levees along the banks of the San Lorenzo River,...
Mountain Monday: Trinity River Adventure

Mountain Monday: Trinity River Adventure

A weekend on the river moves time only as fast as its current By Meggan Wenbourne Yours truly, descending Hell Hole (Serendipity Snapshots). A couple weeks back, my partner and I found ourselves driving through the night from Santa Cruz to Big Flat in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. With an alpine arrival (ha, I just made that up) of 0230, it was all we could do to actually find our sleeping bags, let alone crawl into them along the banks of the Trinity River. Four hours later we were up and looking forward to a day on the river. This particular section of river is a Class III river with five or six rapids of that class and a handful of other awesome rapids within a six mile distance. Several companies guide on this section of river and coexist with one another quite nicely each season. With one hard shell...
The Dying Game: High Fives Foundation

The Dying Game: High Fives Foundation

Extreme is not worth it By Tim Hauserman High Fives athlete Steve Wallace adaptive surfing at High Fives annual surf camp. Photo: Trevor Clark. In the April issue of Adventure Sports Journal, I wrote “The Dying Game,” a look at an effort underway in the Lake Tahoe region to reduce the number of people dying and getting severely injured while doing adventure sports. It was a look at the cultural pressure that athletes feel to jump further and fly higher, and the lack of understanding of the increased risks they are taking. One response has been the Go Bigger Coalition, described in the article, which is focused on getting adventurers, especially the younger ones, to make good decisions so they are able to become the true heroes: those who are still alive to climb that mountain in their 70s. The response to the article was electric. It touched a...
The Rivers K

The Rivers K

Steeped in history, the Kings, Kaweah and Kern Rivers offer burly whitewater for serious kayakers By Haven Livingston Phil Boyer braces for the punch on V-Slide rapid, Middle Kaweah (Seth Dow). As a healthy snowpack begins to pour from the mountains, southern Sierra rivers that have been largely forgotten over the past four years of drought are shining once again – a glorious sight in the eyes of California’s growing population of whitewater paddlers. The Kings, Kaweah and Kern Rivers (from north to south) represent the three largest drainages in Southern California’s Tulare Basin and all originate in or near Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. The sister rivers each present unique personalities to kayakers that reveal themselves through their whitewater opportunities. By fact of latitude, days on these rivers are warmer than their northern cousins. South facing slopes are increasingly adorned with agave as opposed to evergreens as you travel...
Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap

Stepping up to Giant Gap, a classic whitewater gem By Haven Livingston Hoping to come out alive from Five Alive rapid (Lyle Fritchey). Three years ago a friend introduced me to Giant Gap, a well known class IV+ whitewater run on the North Fork American river that is accessed from Highway 80. We were on our way back from a week-long river trip and decided to pull over for lunch. “This is Giant Gap you know,” he said as I picked through leftover cheese and crackers. In hushed tones he described the miles of glorious whitewater that churned far below, out of sight from our lookout. I sat back on the tailgate and listened. In his mind Giant Gap was the perfect transition between the gnar-hard class V Generation Gap upstream and the easier intermediate class IV Chamberlain run downstream.  As a rookie kayaker I wondered if I would...
Technique Clinic: Winter Whitewater

Technique Clinic: Winter Whitewater

Tips for cold weather paddling By Haven Livingston Bluebird winter day on the South Yuba Summit (Daniel Brasuell). When Buck Crocket and Brian Banks arrived to kayak the first spring run of Gore Canyon on the upper Colorado River and found that the banks were still iced over and so was one of the rapids, Crocket did what any resourceful multi-sport adventurer would do. He reached into his truck and pulled out his ice axe. Getting into the river would be a slide, but getting out would require mounting a few feet of overhanging ice and snow. Paddling under these conditions may seem like a masochistic task, but consider the benefits: Instead of sitting in traffic en route to the slopes to ski groomers, you sneak off the beaten path to a lower elevation river and have the entire flowing wonderland to yourself. Rivers on the northwest edge of...
Paddle Smart, Paddle Safe

Paddle Smart, Paddle Safe

Preventing paddlesport fatalities By Haven Livingston Fully equipped for adventure. Cali Collective guide Victoria Anweiller heads down the South Fork American River. Photo: Melissa DeMarie In most cases, fatal paddlesport accidents are preventable. Period. This was reported by the National Safe Boating Council for the American Canoe Association report in 2002, and holds true today, for all types of paddlesports. This past August, during a training paddle for the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, Andres Pombo, 29, of Miami, drowned in the Columbia River after being blown off his standup paddle board by a gust of wind without a leash or life jacket. Heather Bonser-Bishop, 39, was standup paddling on the Chetco River in Oregon when her surf leash attached at the ankle caught on a submerged snag causing her to fall and be held under water. Jacob Austin, 52, and Mandi Walkley, 39, died after their sea kayaks overturned...
Women Who Rock the Boat

Women Who Rock the Boat

California Women’s Watersports Collective gains momentum By Haven Livingston Melissa DeMarie powers down Bald Rock on the Middle Fork Feather River. Photo: Eric Petlock. The first thoughts Melissa DeMarie had after landing a 20 foot waterfall on a low brace and feeling her shoulder pop out were certainly not, “Oh, I think I’ll use my down time to create a nonprofit for women’s watersports.” She was kayaking in Chile and as anybody who has traveled for sport knows, the big bummer of seeing your trip cut short by injury was first and foremost in her head, but as healing time extended, she knew she had to do something else. “I moped around for a few months, but then realized that I had had this idea for starting up a women’s community group and it seemed like a good way to channel my energy and give back to the sport,”...
Get Wet Wednesday: Old Run New

Get Wet Wednesday: Old Run New

Finding new moves and skills no matter how old the run By Haven Livingston Seeing your route from a new angle definitely lends fresh perspective. After logging a whopping 115 days of kayaking last year, it’s disappointing to admit I’ve only reached 27 days so far this year. Work, other sports, life; there is so much to do and so few hours of daylight. The adventurous runs are so far away … or so I thought. Instead of traveling to kayak new runs I’m finding myself on my neighborhood run, Chili Bar, on the South Fork American River more often than I thought tolerable. You know the feeling; you’re tying your laces up and hitting the same after-work trail run you’ve done every Wednesday night that you can remember. You’re thinking, “This, again?” How mind numbing. But after more than 50 times on the run I’ve discovered there are still...
Paddle Yosemite

Paddle Yosemite

Forget the trails, float through the Valley By Haven Livingston Paddlers with Sentinel Rock in the background (Dave Steindorf). Recently a select group of Yosemite visitors soaked in views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and every other stately Yosemite Valley landmark. This sightseeing tour happened without setting foot on a trail or driving a car, and no, they weren’t looking at Google Earth either. They were floating down the Merced River in kayaks and rafts. I was honored to be among them, and now that the rules have changed, you can do it too. Back in September 2013, I reported for ASJ on the potential for Yosemite National Park to open access to paddling on Park rivers for the first time in over 40 years as part of the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers Wild and Scenic Management Plans. The paddling population was anxiously hopeful for the final...
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