Ready to launch from Heart’s Desire Beach on Tomales Bay
Lone Tree. Tomales Bay.
Native American huts. Indian Beach.
With clear skies, calm wind and a mid-day high tide we decided to head for Drake’s Estero, one of our favorite places to kayak. We loaded the kayaks on the car, and headed for the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station where we had breakfast. The Morning Bun Coffee Cake is something you won’t want to miss.
After a quick breakfast we headed to the Estero, only to find the gate was closed and locked. Drakes Estero is undergoing habitat restoration while the National Park Service removes the remains of the oyster farm; some seven miles of wooden racks.
So Plan B was Heart’s Desire Beach. The beach was deserted, save for a park maintenance truck. It was almost surreal having the whole park to ourselves. Without delay we launched our boats and paddled towards the ocean, stopping at a little beach for lunch, and then continuing to Marshall Beach, exploring some of the side passages that are not normally accessible at lower tides. Our journey covered six miles. You can view the track log here, and view more photos here. My wife Joann tells me that paddling a kayak on Tomales Bay is something everybody should have on there bucket list.
Threading Grindel’s Needle and the Sister’s Islands. San Francisco Bay.
Paddling along the waterfront near Point San Pablo.
Kayakers on San Francisco Bay.
Landing for lunch.
On Thursday, January 5, I managed to join my BASK friends for another Thursday BASK Lunch Paddle. We were a group of eight, launching from China Camp and paddling across the bay on calm water. Our route took us out to two rocks called The Sisters, where we found a strong ebb current that helped carry us towards Richmond. We landed at a beach just south of Point San Pablo where we had lunch. The paddle back was a bit more work since we were paddling against the current. As we approached The Sisters on the return route, one of the gang suggested we “thread Grendel’s Needle,” which turns out to be a slot in the rock. Not something I would want to attempt on a windy, choppy day, but fun with the calm water. Our paddle covered 7.3 miles. You can view the track of our route here, and see additional pictures here.
This past Thursday, July 21, found me once again, taking the day off of work and joining several BASK friends for the “Thursday Lunch Paddle.” We launched from Nick’s Cove. When I arrived at 10:45 the weather was looking grey, chilly and windy. I opted to wear my dry suit for a little added protection. Once we were on the water though, the wind seemed to let up a bit, and paddling across the bay put us in more protected waters. We paddled past Hog Island over to White Gulch, where paddling along some of the cliffs felt like we were in an exotic garden. Plenty of white pelicans and cormorants on Hog Island, and plenty of harbor seals in the water. From White Gulch we headed to Pelican Point where we landed for lunch, enjoying some fleeting sun light. The return paddle found us battling the wind back up the bay Hog Island, with the skies darkening a bit. Finally returning to our launch point. You can view additional photos here and a track of our paddle here.
I managed to get back on the water Thursday for the BASK Thursday Lunch Paddle. There were four of us with Danny, Susan, Chris and myself. We launched from Danny’s Secret Launch (Paradise Cay public boat launch). We had a bright, clear, sunny day with some haze. The bald sky, mid-day sun and haze was a challenge for photography; and taking photos from a kayak is challenging enough. Where do you put the paddle when you’re bouncing around in the chop? How do you keep water and salt off of the lens or the viewing port? What’s the best camera for kayaking photography? I’m finding at the moment, that my iPhone 6S in a Lifeproof case with the Lifeproof Lifejacket seems do do well enough. Once I had the photos back on my computer I was torn between color or black and white, so I posted both a color and a black and white conversion on my Facebook page. One of my friends suggested I leave a bit of the red in the black and white conversion, so after playing with the colors I decided to leave a bit of red and just a touch of the color of the water. You can see a selection of images from the paddle here. For the images above, I’ve included the original color, the black and white conversion and the version represented here. You can also view the track of our paddle on GaiaGPS
Spectacular display of wildflowers in Death Valley
The news reports are calling this years wildflower bloom in Death Valley a “superbloom;” the best show in a decade. I was able to carve out a few days last week to make a quick trip. If you are going to Death Valley you might want to check out the park website page about wildflowers. There’s also a link on the page to check out the current conditions. Last week large sections of the valley were carpeted with Desert Gold, the bloom working it’s way north. The wildflower display will likely continue into April, as the succession of flowers takes place. It’s quite a site to see what’s usually bare rocky soil awash with yellow.
Some advice for looking for flowers; get out of the car and walk. I took a walk up a wash, and found a patch of flowers I wanted to photograph. When I stopped, all I saw were the stalks of Desert Gold. I sat down on the ground to get a good vantage point, and while I was on the ground, I started seeing plants that I hadn’t seen when I was standing. Many of the plants where just putting up flower stalks, with flowers yet to come later in the season.
I’ve posted a gallery of photos from my trip. Here’s a link to a selection of wildflower photos.
I’ll be posting more about my trip over the next few days, so stay tuned.
Log of the Shearwater. Drake’s Estero. I’ve been trying to get my kayak, the “Shearwater,” on Drakes Estero since mid-December. The estero closes from March 1 through June 30 for seal pupping. This weekend looked like a good opportunity. The weather was looking promising, with clear skies and no wind predicted, and the tides were such to give us enough water to paddle over the sand bars without dragging out boats over the sand, which we have done on occasion. High Tide of 5.6 ft at 10:45 for Blake’s Landing (Tomales Bay). We need about 3 1/2 feet of water to be able to paddle without grounding on the shoals. I was bound and determined to go, regardless of who were to join me. Solo or not. Decided I would get an early start, up at 7am, and Joann announced she would join me. Happy to have a paddling partner. Had the boats and gear ready by 8:15, dropped Carson off at Metrodog, for doggy day care, and we were on the water at 10:15, launching from the bearch at Drakes Estero. We were surprised to see that all signs of the oyster farm were gone, and least the shore based operation. No buildings, no piles of shells, no dock. No sign that they had ever existed, except for the power poles. We paddled out to Drake’s Beach, arriving on the beach at 11:25, just shy of four miles from our launch. Ate lunch on the beach. Joann was anxious to get back on the water to paddle back before the tide dropped, so without dallying long, we were back on the water paddling at noon. Met one hiker on the beach, and passed a row boat on the way back. Very quiet on the water, with a few stand-up-paddle boards and kayaks near the launch. But we didn’t see anybody else on the water. Perhaps with the Super Bowl, people are have other priorities.
Returned from our paddle feeling refreshed and tired. Nothing refreshes me quite so much as being outdoors, paddling, hiking, or just enjoying nature.