Today I was looking for mellow and that's what I got. I paddled out of Emeryville and along the normally shallow, marshy shoreline from the 80/880/580 interchange to the Oakland Bay Bridge toll booths, affectionately referred to as "the maze". Like most residents of the greater Bay Area, I've passed this cove in a vehicle hundreds of times and never once paddled it. On a normal high tide there's less than a foot of water, if any, and it's not worth challenging the getting-stuck potential. This morning's 6.9ft high tide brought the entire cove into play and gave me a reason to stay local.
Looking back towards the "maze"
The cove is full of evidence that suggests it was a happening inlet back in the day. Weathering piles, dilapidated duck blinds and boathouse remains fill the cove with nostalgia and give a slow, quiet feel to an area normally experienced at 50 mph. Nautical debris lines the shoreline while land that is usually high & dry is a foot under water. The water is close enough to the highway to read license plates in the commuter lane. It's an odd place to paddle, but I feel strangely connected to it and will be back during the next set of spring tides, if not sooner.
Paul Kuthe and the crew at Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe go far out of their way to make sure everyone has a good time and I'm pretty sure that was the case. For me, it was 4 solid days of paddling this, paddling that. Talking about paddling, actually paddling, reconnecting with other paddlers & meeting new ones. There was a wonderful fresh energy this year dominated by first-time attendees, some of them having only gotten into kayaking this summer. Considering the less-than-ideal conditions for new students, I'm greatly impressed with their stamina and positive attitudes in rainy conditions. I didn't hear one complaint the entire weekend and, to me, it was refreshing to see everyone just enjoying their time around other paddlers no matter what the conditions. The majority of folks were highly appreciative and understand all the work that was done to give them this opportunity to learn.