Tag Archives: kayaking

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Heading south from Mt. Hood in late June, we stopped off at the Crooked River gorge in the Peter Skene Ogden State Park between Madras and Redmond.  We were a bit bewildered by how many people were gathering and setting up lawn chairs as if waiting for a big event.  Unfortunately, we made the mistake of asking. ;-)  Turns out they were all there awaiting the passing of an historic steam train engine (Southern Pacific 4449) to cross the bridge.  It was due within the hour so we relocated the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle and decided to wait.  After a couple of hours though, it became clear from news being relayed around that there had been delays and it was still an hour or so out.  So we bailed.

Our destination was actually the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and this proved to be a nice place to spend a few days.  We camped the first and last night on some forest roads and one night at one of the campgrounds in the caldera alongside Pauline Lake.  We had a crazy red sky sunset one night, enjoyed some early morning kayaking on the completely still water and a nice trail ride up to near the caldera rim on our mountain bikes.  We hiked the mile-long Lava River Cave lava tube and checked out the lava tree casts.  There’s actually plenty of other trails and caves to visit too but we had to move on.

    

Click through for the full gallery of pictures.

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Hoan and Quyen’s Family Visit

Hoan and Quyen came up to visit for a few days with their kids Samantha, Sebastien and Sarah.  We went to Moss Landing to kayak on Elkhorn Slough, to the Santa Cruz wharf and boardwalk, to the farmer’s market in Aptos (plus a quick stop to see the dancing chickens at the Glaum Egg Ranch), to hike in Big Basin and then hang out at Four Mile Beach in Wilder Ranch State Park.

Click through for the full gallery:

   

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Kathy’s Visit

Pictures from a visit of Darlene’s friend Kathy and her daughter Jordan and friend Adrienne – we went kayaking at Moss Landing/Elkhorn Slough, visited the Santa Cruz wharf and boardwalk and visited the redwoods at Big Basin State Park.  Click through for the gallery:

  

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A Kayaking Initiation

Darlene invited her cousins, Travis and Dylan, to join us for their first kayaking adventure and we took them down to the Elkhorn Slough today.  It was a pretty windy day – lots of extra paddling required but they got to see lots of sea otters, sea lions, brown pelicans, white pelicans, cormorants, canadian geese, snowy egrets, blue herons, godwits and curlews.

Click through for the gallery of pictures and videos:

 

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Return to Kauai

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Darlene and I just spent twelve days in Kauai, my favorite of the Hawaiian Islands.  There’s just so much to do and explore there – you can never have enough time! Twelve days was still not enough for everything we wanted to do. I last visited Kauai about eleven years ago on an REI Adventures trip.  And, as I found with the extra days after my REI trip last time, I highly recommend Andrew Doughty’s The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook to making the most of your time in Kauai.

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We stayed four nights in the southwest, in Waimea, and did a bunch of hiking in Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park. Our first full day was along the Awa’awapuhi Trail – out and back only as the Cliff Trail is currently closed due to cliffside collapses.  Another day was the Pihea Trail through the Alaka’i Swamp to the wonderful Kilohana lookout and another day for the Cliff Trail to the top of the Waipo’o Falls.  Every trail was more than the usual adventure (and slow-going) due to all the clay, mud and severe trail erosion, particularly along the Pihea Trail.  Finally, we also explored a little bit in the south near Po’ipu along the beaches and cliffs.

We found ourselves getting a late start on seemingly every day-long excursion so that we were always the last ones out of a given location, which was pretty cool for feeling like we had the place to ourselves and getting pictures without anyone else present.

Our next four nights were at a rented condo in Princeville, overlooking the ocean and we were thrilled to be able to watch the lengthy parade of humpback whales blow and breach right from our lanai.  The super dark night skies here were also fantastic for star watching.  From here, we visited the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge, hiked the Kalalau Trail through the start of the Na Pali Coast to Hanakapi’ai Falls, checked out a couple of the wet and dry sea caves (including swimming into the “blue room”), watched the winter storms pound the coast around Hanalei Bay and at the “Queen’s Bath” and kayaked one evening up the Hanalei River. (And unexpectedly met Josh, my guide from my previous Kauai trip eleven years ago, who now owns a kayak rental/tour outfit of his own in Hanalei: Napali Kayak Tours.)

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Our last four nights were spent at a hotel on the east side in Wailua.  From here, we rented kayaks and paddled up the Wailua River and then hiked the remainder to “Secret Falls”.  (This is a very popular and well-known kayak/hike outing.  They’re anything but secret!)  We also visited Wailua Falls and hiked our way down one of the very unofficial trails to swim in the large pool of the falls. Another long day was spent trying to hike into the center of the island and the crater of Waialeale.  Once again there’s no real dedicated trail: it’s more about repeatedly finding and following and re-finding hunters’ trails to make your way as far as you can.  And of course we encountered plenty of mud along the way! We got further than I managed the last time I was here, despite having to hike the road a couple of miles due to fallen trees blocking our rented vehicle.

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We made a few attempts over the trip to get in some snorkeling from various beaches but were repeatedly thwarted by high surf conditions due to the winter storms and/or too-shallow sheltered waters in low tides.  We finally squeezed in a little snorkeling at Lydgate Park by ignoring the protected but shallow fish-feeding/snorkeling pool and swimming out what seemed like nearly a half-mile on a relatively calm evening.  (We had to go that far out to just get like a dozen feet of depth and find some fish.)  On some future trip I still want to set aside a few days to go out on a boat for scuba diving.  We ended our trip like my first one with a spectacular helicopter tour around the island.

Click through for the full gallery or below for a video montage from the trip:

(5-minute video, 71 MB download)

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Revisiting the Galapagos Islands

I originally got to visit the Galapagos Islands five years ago but Darlene has long wanted to go herself.  Of course the Galapagos Islands are well known for their abundant and unique wildlife, their fascinating and beautiful geology, as well as for the inspiration and development of Darwin’s theory of biological evolution.  So, no, I really didn’t mind going back for a second visit!

We were in the Galapagos for twelve days (December 5th through the 16th) and we stayed overnight on the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal with day trips out to Santa Fe, Bartolomé, Leon Dormido as well as a few smaller outcroppings.  (Here’s a great map.)  This was a land-based trip (as was my previous trip), but this time I booked the trip through BikeHike.com and extended it with time on our own for four days (and to include San Cristobal).

Our days were filled with hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, and boating as well as with sea lions, iguanas, penguins, giant tortoises, sharks, sea turtles, rays, cormorants, pelicans, frigate birds, crabs and fish!  And great food!  The whole trip was fantastic!  (Thanks again to our guide, Jorgen, and to everyone else who contributed to making this such a fun experience!)

Here’s a little video I put together covering the whole of the trip:

(5:37 minutes, 115 MB download)

And here are my pictures and other video clips from the trip (including some of Darlene’s), separated into four galleries:

Days 1-3: Santa Cruz and Santa Fe

  

Days 4-5: Bartolomé and Santa Cruz

  

Days 6-7: Isabela and Sierra Negre

  

Days 8-12: Santa Cruz and San Cristobal

  

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Collapsible Convertible Kayak

We got to try out my new gear earlier this week: a collapsible, convertible kayak from Advanced Elements.  It’s the AdvancedFrame Convertible model and it’s an inflatable 15 ft. kayak that converts from single to double and from open to closed deck.  Most importantly, it fits in your trunk!  No need to haul it on top of your vehicle (or in a trailer) to your destination!  It packs down into a bag 36″ by 21″ by 11″ and 56 lbs.  I’m particularly psyched about the idea of bringing it on road trips, like to the Sierras, and having it available as an option to pull out whenever or wherever we might choose.

This is an inflatable kayak with aluminum structural elements in the bow and stern and it’s very quick and easy to set up or take down. (Like 15 minutes or less.)  It’s designed with a tough outer skin around an inflatable frame consisting of two inner chambers and has a couple of rigid fins and a skegg to help it track a straight line well.  There are a number of optional extras to customize it, including single and double closed deck tops.

Darlene and I tried it out this Tuesday at the Elkhorn Slough, launching from Kirby Park.  We set it up in open deck form and tried out the optional, high pressure drop stitch floor which provides more rigidity than the standard floor.  There’s also an optional, aluminum “Back Bone” pole that can be placed under the standard floor that gives the kayak a more pronounced V shape underwater.  We’ll be trying that configuration later.

It performed great.  It felt very stable, moved quickly and tracked straight lines easily.  It felt very much like a normal sit inside sea kayak.  There’s plenty of room for the two of us plus some gear.  (And I’m 6’4″, 195 lbs.)

After Darlene finished her meeting (calling in while we were out on the water), we tried out the sail attachment.  This particular sail is from Advanced Elements as well and is designed to clip into the front buckles on the kayak and hold its form without intervention, leaving your hands free to paddle.  This worked well and the big transparent panels on the sail made it still easy to see where we were going:

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And, of course the big advantage is being able to quickly collapse the whole thing down and tuck it into a small space in your vehicle… with or without the help of passing pelicans:

I took it out again the next day, but this time I configured it for one person, placing the seat in the middle space and installing the optional covered deck.  (There’s also a covered deck for the two person configuration.)  The single person deck has a hatch behind the seat to provide access to storage area and both the single and double decks have inflatable rims that allow you to attach a spray skirt.

 

The kayak still handled very well with just one person.  Next time though I’ll be using the optional, adjustable foot rests.  This wasn’t necessary in the two person configuration, at least for me in the back, because of the inflatable thwart behind the front seat position.

So there it is, the AdvancedFrame Convertible, providing a compact one or two person kayak tucked into the trunk of your car!  If you’re looking for more reviews, take a look at paddling.net or Amazon.  Check out AirKayaks.com if you’re interested because they provide some nice bundle deals and make the extra effort to provide nice demonstration videos on many of the products they sell.

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It looks like Pan and Hera might want to join me on my next excursion in the kayak:

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Whales at Moss Landing

There’s been loads of humpback whales in Monterey Bay this summer and Darlene and I finally had a chance to go on a whale-watching tour by kayak out of Moss Landing this past Sunday with Dave of Venture Quest Kayaks.  Thanks once again, Dave!  We had a great time and encountered numerous humpback whales diving and feeding together, once even coming up between our kayaks, as well as saw plenty of others off in various directions, blowing, diving and even breaching in the distance.  After a snack break back at the boat launch, we headed in to the Elkhorn Slough with the aid of some handheld kayak sails.

In addition to all the whales, we also saw plenty of other wildlife: lots of harbor seals, sea lions, otters, egg yolk jellyfish, starfish, porpoises, pelicans, gulls, terns, sandpipers, cormorants and even an egret.  A couple of people saw a mola mola pass under, but we missed that. D’oh!

However, our kayak was boarded in the slough by a sea otter “patrol” – apparently inspecting us for goodies… or contraband?  (Check out the video below.)

We had so much fun on Sunday that we decided to sign up to come back the very next morning. On Monday, the entire bay was incredibly calm but we really had to work to find any whales. We had to paddle out nearly three miles into the bay to find them, but find them we did! Or perhaps they found us…

A short video montage of our two days of kayaking (4.3 minutes, 70 MB)

Click through for the full gallery of images from both days:

  

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Twelve Days of Croatia

Darlene and I recently enjoyed a twelve day trip to Croatia, booked through REI Adventures.  (June 27th to July 9th)

Our trip started in Zagreb and we worked our way south through Dalmatia and down to Dubrovnik, with a side excursion through Bosnia-Herzegovina.  As an active, multi-sport trip, we enjoyed lots of hiking, biking, river and sea kayaking, as well as just seeing and exploring various sites along the way.

Here’s a video montage I put together covering much of our trip:

I’ve organized the pictures into four different galleries:

Days 1 -4:  Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Zrmanja and Krupa Rivers, and Novigrad

  

Days 5-7:  Paklenica National Park, Vrgada Island, Skradin, Krka National Park, and Trogir

  

Days 8-9:  Split, Trebižat River, Mostar, and Ston

  

Days 9-12:  Dubrovnik, Zaton and the Elafiti Islands

  

 

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Costa Rica – Coast to Coast

I just returned from a fun and challenging little adventure (arranged through BikeHike.com) where a group of eight of us made our way across Costa Rica from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean entirely under our own human power… and a fair amount of gravity assist!

We started in Quepos, on the western coast, and we proceeded to bike, hike, raft and kayak our way entirely across the country until we reached the eastern coast and the Caribbean.  We mostly camped at sites along the way and a support vehicle carried our gear but we otherwise made our way from one coast to the other.  Along the way, we encountered (or sometimes befriended) caiman, monkeys, sloths, toucans, turkey vultures, frogs, bats, snakes and some biting fish, as well as numerous insects including various spiders, ants, butterflies and a particularly aggrieved, giant grasshopper.

Click on through for my gallery of photos and videos from the trip:

   

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