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.
One of the best hikes in Western Sonoma County is the four mIle loop to the top of Red Hill. It begins on the coastal bluff above Shell Beach and climbs, steeply at first, then gradually, to the 860′ summit.
My wife and I enjoyed watching the aerobatic antics of a pair of ravens, the purposeful and deliberate manoevers of birds of prey, and the turkey vultures’majestic slope soaring and thermaling.
On a clear day you can see north to Fort Ross, south to Point Reyes, east to Mount St. Helena, and more than 35 nautical miles out to the Pacific Ocean’s horizon.
The views are long and the scenery is varied–forests, rangeland, ocean, the lower Russian River Estuary, and the tiny seaside hamlet of Jenner.
Looking south from Jenner you can see Red Hill in the distance.
If you’re able to get away for a half day in natural splendor, this is a great place to visit.
This morning I took my son-in-law paddling on the Russian River Estuary in fine winter weather. We saw the pair of Bald Eagles who are often there.
It’s good to have binoculars when kayaking.
We saw Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, Cormorants, a Great Blue Heron, a few Mallards, flocks of Buffleheads, and a half dozen Mergansers.
We visited with Bob Noble, the only other paddler we saw. More at Bob at Bob’s Eyes.
The mouth of the river is open.
Waqqas enjoyed his first paddle.
The mouth of the Russian River is closed, sealed shut by a sandbar. Waters in the lagoon have risen to about 6 feet at the visitors center launch area.
Most of the Harbor Seals have left. Only a few remain near the mouth. In their place are hundreds of migrating Brown Pelicans and Gulls.
Waves crashed against the rocks near the jetty. Some of the bigger waves shot grand plumes of spray into the air.
Signs posted on the shores around Penny Island asked the public NOT to remove trash or debris from the shore.
As a retired educator I complied with the request stated on the sign.
This zori was a few feet from the sign. I left it there.
It was surprisingly hard to leave the trash where it was. Picking up trash in the river is sort of habit forming.
The Russian River Estuary is filling up now that the mouth has closed. My wife and I got up early this morning to take our canoe out to see the wildlife out there and to pick up whatever garbage we could find.
It was calm when we arrived.
We paddled out to the mouth and then upriver stopping at a pasture for a break. We saw about 70 Harbor Seals at the (now closed) mouth, Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Loons, Mallard Ducks, Caspian Terns, Pelicans, Canadian Geese, and Turkey Vultures. Although we hoped to see something a bit more unusual, specifically River Otter or perhaps, a Bald Eagle, none showed themselves to us.
All along the way, we found flotsam and jetsam to pluck out of the river and take to the garbage receptacle at Jenner launch site.
We stopped by the visitor center to buy a gift for our daughter’s best friends newborn baby girl.
A wonderful morning followed by a fantastic creekside lunch we enjoyed on our way home at Fork’s restaurant.
Map of today’s outing: