Friday, December 30, 2011

Three days on ACA

In the second week of December I spent three days paddling with some of Northern California's finest during an ACA L5 assessment.  Some of us were present as an L4 update (myself included), while others were assessing at level 5.  The course was largely unstructured by design to allow things to come together in a natural fashion.  Without three full days of syllabus to follow we would be able to improvise and try things that may not normally happen on an assessment or formal course.  Roger Schumann and Bryant Burkhardt put on a nice course, save for the insufficient L5 conditions, which were naturally out of their control.

Overall, it was a hugely worthwhile experience that I'm still looking back on and discussing with people.  Of the eight of us, there were 6 delphins, 1 schirocco, 1 romany.  I decided to paddle the Romany simply because I haven't paddled it in awhile and I missed it.  Having spent a couple weeks in an Explorer recently I was really looking forward to paddling it again.  It's a damn good boat for rock and surf and as strong a boat as I've ever paddled.  The plan didn't call for much rock gardening, but even if we did spend three days bouncing off rocks, it would hold up just fine.  I found it very interesting that there were six delphins - 75%...  I certainly walked away wanting to paddle one more and considering upgrading my plastic boat.

We covered rescues new and old, towing scenarios, challenging exercises, throw rope experimentation, played in current, surfed, played in rocks and the list goes on.  I definitely got outside my comfort zone at one point and got one of my best rides ever in a sea kayak - something I won't forget any time soon.  It was a pretty valuable reminder to me how powerful it can make you feel when you do something you're afraid of and succeed.

California Canoe & Kayak offered the course

one, two, three, four, five of the P&H Delphins

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thanksgiving on the river

After an all night drive with canoe and SUP on the roof, I picked up some Dunkin Donuts in Vegas and met Haley & Gillian at the airport.  Couple quick stops and we arrived at Willow Beach to launch for four days of paddling, hiking, soaking and holiday eating.  Haley and I did this trip last Turkey day with friends and were really excited to return with family.

We made our way upriver 8 miles, eddyhopping when necessary, and setup a base camp for the next four days.  Arriving reasonably early, there were few people around and we settled on a campsite as close to the river as we could manage.  We had a great fire ring to cook on with the new dutch oven we picked up just before setting out on this trip.  At 14 pounds it's far from lightweight, but with canoe support it was a breeze.  This Thanksgiving we'd be toasting all the family back home and savoring our meal cooked on Arizona time over an open flame.   Oh, and the paddle boarding wasn't bad either.

Check out some pics here:

Nice hike in the hills
climbing to the tubs

slaving over Turkey dinner

Bark Expedition with gear - great setup!