Russian River Estuary Opened

The Sonoma County Water Agency breached the mouth of the Russian River early this afternoon.

I had paddled the upper Russian River estuary the past couple of days, once on my SUP up to Bohemian Grove…

….and again yesterday with my wife in the canoe. On this second outing we made it all the way to the upper limit of the estuarine waters at the Summer Crossing between Guerneville and Monte Rio.

Summer Crossing near Guerneville where the first discernible downstream current is felt when the estuary is full

Here’s a map of some of the second paddle up to the Summer Crossing.

When the estuary gets so full that it is basically a lake from Jenner to Guerneville it begins to flood summer homes along the Jenner shoreline and the Sonoma County Water Agency steps in to breach the levee of sand pushed up into the mouth of the river by the Pacific surf.

We arrived to witness the breaching, but CalTrans work on Highway 1 delayed the delivery of the excavator to Goat Rock Beach where the breaching was to take place. There was no excavator, just an empty beach and a full lagoon.

To pass the time waiting for the excavator to arrive my wife and I took a walk along the coast on the Kortum Trail from Shell Beach to Wright’s Beach. Wright’s Beach has nice pebbly stretches mixed in with ordinary sandy sand.

Fine pebbles on Wright’s Beach

When we returned to the Jenner overlook in the misty mid afternoon, the breaching of the estuary had just been completed and the water began flowing out the the Pacific Ocean.

 

Harbor Seals were swimming in the lagoon and in the Pacific surf just where the fresh water was running out to the ocean. We could see a few making their way back and forth between the two.

 

California Fires

Wildfires have devastated this part of Northern California, hitting neighboring towns of Santa Rosa and Glen Ellen especially hard. Choking smoke has blanketed my hometown, Sebastopol, making it hard to breathe.

To get some relief, I went out to the ocean for a short outing on my stand up paddle board. I went to Jenner at the mouth of the Russian River.

The mouth of the river has closed again, so the estuary is again a lagoon. On my way to the mouth, I saw a river otter, several harbor seals, more than a dozen brown pelicans,and hundreds of terns and gulls.

Here is a map of my short paddle.

 

SUPs Everywhere

Regular Estuarian readers may have noticed a summer-long hiatus in my posts to this weblog. The reason? This little guy, our first grandchild.

Upon resuming my estuarian activities, I’ve seen Stand Up Paddleboards, (SUPs) everywhere I paddle.

The Russian River,

Corte Madera Creek

Spring Lake

Tomales Bay

Riverfront Park in Windsor

I’ve talked to many of them and learned that many used to paddle kayaks, but chose SUPs to get a better workout. I get it: kayaking does nothing for you from the hips on down. Because of that, I often take a walk after paddling, as I did yesterday at Riverfront park.

I talked with Doug, the paddleboarder who is just barely visible on the far shore of this lake, below. He’s about my age, admirably fit and vigorous, an experienced white water and sea kayaker, and an enthusiastic SUPer.

Doug got me thinking about becoming a SUPerman. My birthday is coming up.

Teatime on Tomales


Autumn weather around here is perfect for paddling: warm and not too windy.

Right after my morning coffee, I packed a small lunch and a thermos of hot black tea and headed for Chicken Ranch Beach on the west side of Tomales Bay.

Not many others were out there today other than a trio of women on StandUp Paddleboards.

Hearts Desire Beach was almost empty.

So was Indian Beach.

I paddled beyond Sacramento Landing to Fruit Tree Beach where I stopped for tea.

I had the whole beach to myself

 

I enjoyed the peacefulness of the bay and the solitude it offers on weekday mornings. On the way back south a Northwest wind blew straight down the bay. Luckily I had my Windpaddle Sail along.

The winds filled the sail and urged me down the bay.

A map of my journey:


 

Salmon Creek Scoot

Salmon Creek is known mainly for its beach, popular with surfers and notorious for shark attacks that occur there from time to time.

No one I know has ever paddled up Salmon Creek. It’s such a small creek that it doesn’t seem worth the bother to launch a boat.Yesterday, while walking in the area with my wife, I got curious about what it might offer despite its small size. My curiosity got me out there this morning with my kayak and camera, and I was rewarded with a lovely outing.

My journey began at the “Salmon Creek Yacht Club” along the edge of the estuary of Salmon Creek. It’s sole facility is this aging sign, partially hidden in the reeds:

The “Yacht Club” serves the small community of Salmon Creek, a collection of modest seaside cottages and homes in various states of repair.

When I arrived, coastal low clouds spread across the sky. I had no idea how far inland it might be possible to paddle. I wanted to find out. Soon after passing beneath the Highway One bridge it got quiet and peaceful.

A half hour later, after passing some beautiful steep hillsides,

the trees and bushes growing along the banks began to impede further progress inland. Eventually I came to a tire swing near a gravelly pull-out spot where a trail led up a bank.

The short trail led to a campground of some sort. There was a fire ring, some firewood, and plenty of room to pitch some tents.

Beyond this place further progress would require portaging.

I turned around and paddled all the way down the estuary to the ocean. About a half dozen surfers were enjoying the knee high waves and I watched them,

enjoying a thermos of hot tea while sitting on a Douglas Fir stool.

 

A map of the outing: