Tag Archives: water

Guerneville to Monte Rio

Guerneville to Monte Rio

Carl Inglin led more than two dozen people on a beautiful section of the Russian River yesterday that we rarely get to paddle because of summertime dams and bridges. We met at 9:30 on Sunday morning, completed our shuttle and were on the water at 10:45. Here is how we looked at our 12 noon lunch stop near Bohemian Grove.

Russian River Bohemian Grove

The biggest surprise was at the Vacation Beach temporary bridge which was still up. There was a large fish counter on river right. We all got out to check the little weir that had been installed which was clearly marked with orange triangles mounted on I-beams that were parallel to the shore.

Vacation Beach Bridge

Vacation Beach Bridge

Vacation Beach Fish Counter

Vacation Beach Fish Counter

Several of us ran it, including me. Most walked their boats to the other side of the bridge. The biggest surprise was a VERY strong current immediately past the drop that tended to push me into the bridge stanchion. Carl remarked on it, too. I think it was man-made to drive the fish into the counter. The inflatable boater below is just entering the strong side-current.

Vacation Bridge Fish Counter

Strong Side Current Into Fish Counter

Debi made the drop successfully in her new Eddyline. Many happy boaters on this trip.

Kayaker

Debi Celebrates Making The Drop

Brigitte

Deb Turner

kayakers on russian river

John, Jan, Mark

Because there typically little boat traffic on this part of the river, there were lots of large wading birds like herons and egrets. Here is the view from our lunch beach. We were back on the water at 12:30 and I was loading my boat back on my car in Guerneville at 2:30. Very successful day.

lower russian river

Baylands MarshFest

Baylands MarshFest

Sonoma Land Trust opened the locked gates for MarshFest and Martha and I enjoyed Sonoma County’s only public access to the Bay. We paddled Dickson Ranch, the newly restored tidal marsh along the northern shore of San Pablo Bay, and hiked the Dickson Trail. Here is a photo from the Sonoma Land Trust website.

Sonoma Land Trust Baylands

Sonoma Land Trust Baylands

Sonoma Land Trust Map

Baylands in Blue at Bottom

The event was part of a day-long celebration of the Bay and the timing was sub-optimal for paddling. Sonoma Land Trust provided bikes, nature hikes, and sit-on-top boats, but the tide was only two feet and going out. Ideally, the tide would be three feet or higher and coming in to reduce the chance of being swept out through the breaches in the Dickson Ranch dikes and into the currents of San Pablo Bay. The low, ebbing tide made paddling difficult because the kayaks barely cleared the silty bottom in many places. Those who exited after we did had a long slog through the mud, so checking the tide charts will be important in planning a visit.

This area is open to the public, but the locked gate is a distance from the put-in. On this day, the gate was open, but on a private visit, wheels will be necessary. It is paved for 99% of the way.

The put-in is at the end of Reclamation Road. To reach it from Lakeville Highway from Petaluma, just keep going straight as if you were going to drive to the Bay. That is, when you reach Hwy 37, CROSS it at the stoplight. Soon you will reach the locked gate with a parking area. The Land Trust area is open to the public but access is restricted by the locked gate. That just means you have to wheel your boat in. Sit-on-tops are ideal because the water is very calm and protected, but shallow. The mud has tremendous suction and pulled my sandals off, so consider mud boots and don’t even think of trying this in flip-flops. The Sonoma Land Trust personnel were just barefoot.

The photo below is from the little rise just past “Railroad Crossing” on the map above. You can see the locked gate in the distance, and Lakeville Highway coming to a T at Highway 37. You can see the parking area adjacent to the locked gate and you can see paved road where you will wheel your boat to the put-in shown in the map above.

Baylands Kayak Access

How To Wheel Your Boat Past The Locked Gate

Here’s the payoff you will get. This is Martha paddling toward Mt. Tamalpais. This is a very easy paddle, flat water even though it is technically San Pablo Bay, and surrounded by wetland birds and open vistas.

Baylands Mt. Tamalpais

Martha Paddling Toward Mt. Tamalpais

Dickson Ranch is actually adjacent to the original Baylands restoration project and this trail sign explains the history and some of what they learned. San Pablo Bay is at the top of the sign. We paddled the flooded-for-restoration Dickson Ranch and hiked Dickson Trail.

Dickson Ranch Sign

Trail Sign Showing Dickson Ranch and Original Baylands Project

Dickson Trail

Great For Biking and Hiking

This is what happens when the tide gets too low.

Muddy Stuck In Mud

Take Out at Low Tide

Conception Explodes Off Channel Islands

Conception Explodes Off Channel Islands

I posted this comment to this NYTimes article California Boat Fire Kills at Least 20; Haunting Pleas as Flames Erupt

I spent two nights on the Conception with a Sierra Club trip to the channel islands in October 2017. It has a main stairway from the passenger bunks below deck to the kitchen on the main deck and also a secondary escape hatch which they made sure we knew about in the Emergency Procedure Drill they held. The hatch opened to the main deck cabin, which we all saw was engulfed in flames. I am also a diver and have slept on other boats and you are right, they are similar. Typically, the crew sleeps close to the wheel house, far from the passengers. I am stunned by this tragedy.

Channel Is Conception Explosion

Conception Boat Fire

The Conception at Daybreak

Conception Below Deck Floor Plan

The Secondary Escape Hatch Was Under The “N”

I have not yet written about the Sierra Club trip because it was shortly after the October 2017 fires in Santa Rosa. I had planned the Channel Islands trip months earlier, and paid for it in advance, as required, so I had to go. Frankly, I was grateful to get out of Santa Rosa even though I was coming down with a massive cold contracted in the shelters. But more on that later.

River of Nourishment

River of Nourishment

About six months after the October 2017 fires,  I received Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) from Sylvia Dolce. I was most interested in learning the difference between Empathy and Compassion.  I already knew they accessed different parts of the brain, and I learned that Thupten Jinpa, one of CCT’s main gurus, says “Empathy focuses on the problem and Compassion focuses on the solution ‘What can I do?’.”

About a year later, Sylvia Dolce taught Restorative Self Care specifically for fire and trauma survivors. In one of the exercises, she gave the students a circle of paper to take home and asked us to draw what we needed for self care. In my drawing, Compassion is the river.  Dr. Dan Siegel says that all mental illness can be categorized as Chaos or Rigidity.  The riverbanks of tangled underbrush signify Chaos. The rocks signify Rigidity.

Original Artwork Copyright Anet Dunne

The dense thicket on the banks tries to trap me in chaos,
but I will never get anywhere if I stay on the shore.
I pick my way out to the Rocks of Resentment
Rigidly clinging as the water rushes by.

"Look how hard I'm trying!"
I barely notice that I am stuck.

The sunshine of safety warms up my courage.
I release the Resentment and slip out into the flow
of the River of Nourishment,
Buoyed by the Bounty of the Goddess.

Healdsburg to Steelhead Beach

Healdsburg to Steelhead Beach

Great paddle yesterday from Veterans Memorial Park in Healdsburg to Steelhead Beach. First time I have ever paddled past Wohler Bridge. Paddling through the section that is normally portaged was a little tricky, but we all got through well. Here is a photo at launch with the Headsburg bridge in the background. The first rapid which goes under the freeway bridge is the most challenging part of this trip. Two things to remember: take the central channel (not the tiny leftmost one), prepare to zag sharply left maybe using the bottom of the boat to pinball off the rocks to make a fast zig to the right. Splashy, so a skirt would have been good. We had 400 cfs in Healdsburg with an additional 100 cfs coming in at Dry Creek. Perfect conditions, a well-matched group, a beer afterwards at Stumptown in Guerneville.

Liam, Cyrus, Whitney, Deb

That Was So Much Fun, We Did It Again Five Days Later

It’s not often that the weather is beautiful, there is enough water in the river, and the inflatable dam below Wohler Bridge is down, so we did it again Friday, just five days after the paddle above. I’m sorry I took the advice of a canoeist who told me to approach the first rapid, under the freeway bridge, to the left of the main channel. It put me in poor position for the “zag.” I would have been better to stay right in the main pillow of water and use it to do the zig-zag.

MANY more people on the Friday trip, and a much wider range of capabilities, including a first-time paddler who went over in a cross-current under Wohler Bridge and had to be lined through the tricky drop by the fish trap.

Front row: Liam, Deb, Canoe Guy, Carl, Me

Afterwards, we had a fun time at a happy hour in Windsor.

Petaluma Marsh Paddle

Petaluma Marsh Paddle
Petaluma Marsh Cottage

Marsh Mellow Cottage

It was a gray Sunday when we put in at Pappa’s Taverna on Lakeville Highway, aka Lakeville Landing. Paul was there at 9 a.m. to make sure we were on the water by 10 a.m. because the wetland is tidal and opens to San Pablo Bay. High winds were predicted for 1 p.m. so we made a beeline for the cottages that are “homesteaded” in the marsh. Marsh Mellow is at left.

We drew our boats up to the private cottage and sat on the deck as we enjoyed a quick lunch before returning back, just in time before the winds started howling.

Paul Led the Paddle

Lunch at Marsh Mellow

Kathy, Richard, Deb, Wayne, Paul


Tin Ernie's Speakeasy

Lucinda and Tom at Ernie’s

Afterwards, we enjoyed some draft beer at the nearby dive bar at the crossroads of 116 and 37. We got a tall table to ourselves in the corner near the door and were delightfully surprised, as we tallied up at the end, to find that someone had already paid our tab. Paul said he didn’t do it — maybe it was Tom? Will we ever find out?

Lake Hennessey

Lake Hennessey

Paddling Lake Hennessey

Lake Hennessey Paddle with Canoe and Kayak MeetUp


Our path

Superbowl Sunday, Feb 4th, and Robert Skapura’s MeetUp group had beautiful Lake Hennessey to ourselves. Paddled with Dave Fitzgerald, Enid Pollack, Justin Morse, Rick Williams, Liam, Ann in a custom kevlar canoe and about 20 more. The lake is fed by two creeks, so first we checked out Moore Creek at the southern end, then explored the northern end of the lake to find the Conn Creek. We tandem-parked our cars in the small $4 parking area, but a red Subaru blocked in someone not in our group, so gallant Wayne paddled her car keys back and moved the car. We were surprised to learn later that the tandem parking was a ticketable offense. Good thing the patrols were not too diligent on Superbowl Sunday.

The lunch spot at the little inlet above the “k” in Lake in the map to the left is where we stopped for lunch under shady trees. Had a port-a-potty and trash bins and most boaters brought chairs and something to share for lunch. All quite fun.

Lake Hennessey sign
Robert Skapura

“Strangers In Their Own Land”

“Strangers In Their Own Land”

“Anger and Mourning on the American Right” is the subtitle of this book by Arlie Russel Hochschild, a Berkeley sociologist. Based mainly on interviews with Tea Party Republicans in Louisiana, she delves into the “why” of poor white votes for Trump and other Republicans. Louisiana is one of the poorest and least-healthy states. It is heavily polluted because weak enforcement of weak regulations make it attractive to oil and chemical plants. Polluting industries seek the “least resistant personality profile” in the residents of the area they plan to poison (page 81):

  • Longtime residents of small towns in the South or Midwest
  • High school educated only
  • Catholic
  • Uninvolved in social issues, and without a culture of activism
  • Involved in “nature exploitative occupations” such as mining, farming, ranching
  • Conservative
  • Republican
  • Advocates of the free market

Hochschild develops a “deep story” to explain their traditional values of loyalty, sacrifice, and endurance. Polluting industries manipulate them into fearing the loss of their income if they don’t turn a blind eye to the secret pollution, the dying trees, the disappearing fish, the increasing illness. Church, state, and politicians tug their loyalty strings to believe in Capitalism at the expense of the environment. They endure the secret spillage into their waterways, staying close to home and their traditional values. They resent Liberals who point to the contamination and tell them they “are not feeling the right feelings.”

These white people work hard and they scorn the shiftless, no ‘count people below them in the social order who live on government handouts and never work. They identify with the white plantation owners, the 1%, and believe that through hard work, luck and family connections, they too will live in the white-columned mansions along the Mississippi River. But they don’t go to college and they don’t learn new technology or new ways of thinking.

They are resentful of affirmative-action types (women, blacks, refugees) who “cut in front of them in line” for the good jobs. They believe the government paid for Obama’s education, and for Michelle’s Harvard education, too. Because they never bought and read his books, they don’t realize that their education loans were paid for with the book royalties. They believe the government subsidizes this “line-cutting” that has stagnated their wages and lives.

They don’t want to feel like downtrodden victims like blacks, women and gays. They want to feel like the white 1%. Their endurance is a matter of honor. Honor is sacrifice. With their tight communities and limited education, their feedback loop is small and fed by Fox News.

Trump cashed in on Identity Politics for white men who felt trapped in 1950s ethics and values. The ones holding the KKK signs in Atchafalaya. Read David Brooks review of the book in his Fourth of July column.

Woman Lives Undersea for 8 Days

Woman Lives Undersea for 8 Days


Here I am with Dr. Dawn Kernagis, a member of Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, who spoke at SRJC today about doing biomedical research on the effects living underwater for eight days as part of NASA’s NEEMO 21 crew. Here is a video of her talk, “Dr Dawn Kernagis talks about life undersea during NASA s NEEMO 21 Mission.” So impressive! This was part of Women’s History Month.

Ludwigia Removal in Piner Creek

Ludwigia Removal in Piner Creek

Ludwigia, an aquatic plant that originates from South America, has become an invasive pest in the creeks and Laguna de Santa Rosa, a large seasonal wetland that is a nesting area for migrating birds. Sonoma County citizens work hard to protect the health of the Laguna and the creeks that supply it. Ludwigia was probably introduced by tropical fish fanciers who carelessly flushed this decorative plant into the creek. Like so many plants, it grows vigorously here, mainly along shallow areas of the Laguna’s main channel and tributary creeks.
ludwigia615w

Piner Creek, which runs behind our house, has an open, sunny spot where ducks raise their young and children like to throw bits of bread from the nearby bridge. Larger migratory birds like egrets sometimes fish here because there are lots of small fish.

Ludwigia anchors is roots in the mud at the waterline and grows large mats that cover the surface of the water, preventing the fish from getting insects and preventing birds from fishing. Ludwigia appeared for the first time this spring and by Labor Day had covered almost all of the surface of the creek behind our house. Saturday, Howard and I hauled out several sacks of it.

A about a half-mile farther down Piner Creek, it merges with Paulin Creek and this is a prime fishing area for birds. It is a beautiful spot and it was starting to become choked with Ludwigia also, so Sunday morning I went down there by myself to clean it up. I gathered up two bags of weeks but hurt my back and had to ask a passing jogger to help me haul the second bag up the creek. The next morning, Labor Day, it looked like much of the Ludwigia had grown back! (see photo left above)

Monday evening, Howard helped me haul up another four bags of weeds (see photo right above). Let’s see how long this cleanup lasts. We may have to resort to some targeted herbicide along the damp soil at the waterline.

Piner Creek is supposed to be part of the steelhead hatchery system, but Ludwigiacreates a barrier to migrating steelhead and other fish, and its bacterial decomposition threatens oxygen-dependent wildlife in the water. The Laguna Foundation is working with USDA-ARS researchers and local agencies to find a long-term solution to the problem.