Monday, August 27, 2018

New Mendocino Sea Kayaking Video

My blog has been quiet all summer for a variety of reasons.  The primary reason is that I have been spending lots of time out on the water and not on the computer.  I definitely recommend - more outside time and less computer time.

Part of my busy summer on the water has been Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Art of Sea Kayaking Mendocino Series.  This is a series of classes designed for intermediate sea kayakers to build their coastal paddling skills.  Rather than having generic rock gardening classes, we designed specific classes so that paddlers could join us for what they are interested in or do the whole series for a comprehensive training.  We see exponential skill growth in paddlers who have joined us for the whole series and who repeat courses in the series.
Susan building her skills and confidence in Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Art of Sea Kayaking Mendocino Classes.
Our final course in the summer Art of Sea Kayaking Mendocino Series is Magical Mendocino Sea Caves.  We had a great group of paddlers and an awesome course.  I could tell you more about it but how about if I show you?  Check out this video

Our next Art of Sea Kayaking Mendocino Adventure is a comprehensive 5 day September 24-29, 2018.  Contact us for more information and to apply.

Friday, June 29, 2018

June 2018

My blog has been a bit quiet this month - you probably realize that the reason for this is that life is anything but quiet at the moment.

Liquid Fusion Kayaking is in full swing with our summer tours.  Each day I consider it an honor to be able to share the outdoor world with others.  From beginning kayakers (many who don't even know how to swim) to seasoned paddlers looking to improve their skills, I feel very fortunate to be able to share the wonders of the Mendocino Coast.  
Locals enjoying a kayak birding tour on the Noyo River.
The Noyo River is so beautiful and alive!!!  A highlight of our Noyo River Tours this summer has been acorn woodpeckers nesting in the alder snag by our shop.  Everyone is fascinated by them and I am observing and learning more about their life history and complex social structure.  Kate Marianchild describes it well in her book Secrets of Oak Woodlands: Plants and Animals Among California's Oaks.
Acorn Woodpecker prepares to enter its nest in the alder tree by LFK Headquarters.
On the ocean, I have been co-teaching with Jeff Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Art of Sea Kayaking Mendocino series and Whitewater of the Sea Adventures.  After this month's sea kayak surfzone class, I see the need for simple instructional information on the surf zone - specifically for sea kayaks in the surf.  Stay tuned for my blog posts on sea kayak surf zone skills.
Combining surfzone and rock gardening skills to traverse through a rocky surfzone on the Mendocino Coast.
Whitewater of the Sea continues to be a blast!  I highly recommend it for anyone who is adventuresome, physically fit, and comfortable in the water and especially if you are interested in ocean whitewater kayaking aka rock gardening or rock hopping.  Our funnest trips are groups of friends or family who come out together.  Last week, we had a family of 7 including 5 teenagers.  Everyone rocked!!!  It was especially seeing the teenagers watching in awe as their Mom got some of the best rides of the day.
A Mom showing her teenagers how it's done on a Whitewater of the Sea Adventure.
Jeff and I continue to take Tuesdays off.  The idea is that it is a day of rest and rejuvenation.  We definitely get both.  I have a blog drafted to share more about our Tuesday adventures which include whitewater river kayaking, kayak fishing, surfing, and mountain biking.
Catch of the Day - Vermillion Rock Cod aka Red Snapper
As of June 2018, Liquid Fusion Kayaking has been officially running kayak tours and classes on the Mendocino Coast of California.  I have been reflecting on the evolution of our business and am excited to see what the next 10 years will bring.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rock Garden Buffer Zones

Buffer - to lessen or moderate the impact of something.

When kayaking among ocean rock gardens, it is helpful to know where safe zones are.  Knowing and using these safe zones will allow one to paddle in close to the rocks and to access more areas and play spots.
Deep water (where waves aren't breaking) are obvious safe zones.  There are also areas in rock gardens where we can find safety from breaking waves.  We can hide behind a rock when the wave comes and let the rock take the impact of the wave and lessen or buffer it's energy.

Have you ever gone out into the driveway when your significant other is washing the car?  Perhaps, they are feeling a bit ornery and try to spray you with the hose.  By ducking behind the car, you can avoid the full blast of the hose.  This is the same with using rocks as buffers in the ocean.  We refer to these areas as buffer zones.
Jean sitting in a buffer zone behind a rock during a Liquid Fusion Kayaking Rock Garden Class.  Photo by Jeff Laxier.

To use a buffer zone -
1. Determine the direction of the waves.
2. Look for a sizable rock that will block the incoming wave (watching a couple of sets roll through the area will give you an idea if the rock is large enough)
3. Hold position as close behind the rock as possible when the wave hits.
4. Stay loose in the hips and potentially ready to brace as the water may surge under or around you.

When the set has passed, journey to the next buffer zone.  Whitewater river runners can compare this concept to eddying out and eddy hopping.

Not all buffer zones are created equal just as all waves are not the same size and direction.  It takes time to develop the water reading skills to recognize buffer zones and how to use them.  On your next rock garden journey, start looking for buffer zones and find small friendly ones to play with.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Redwoods and Rapids

Spring Run Off 2018
Each spring, Jeff and I dedicate 2 weeks to whitewater river kayaking.  Sometimes we offer classes during this time through Liquid Fusion Kayaking, but typically LFK is closed as we run off to chase the spring run off and use the time to rev up for our busy spring and summer season. Spring run off trips often include traveling to destinations to do whitewater runs and almost always include a multiday river trip.  This year, we loaded up the whitewater kayaks, camping gear, and mountain bikes and headed north to the Smith River.

Day one of our trip, we ran the North Fork of the Smith River.  The North Fork of the Smith is among my favorite whitewater rivers.  The waters are crystal clear.  The scenery and plant life are unique and the rapids are fun.
Eddied out for lunch on the North Fork of the Smith River.
The 14 mile wilderness stretch feels other-worldly.  The water is so crystal clear that one could get dizzy staring at the rocks when zipping down the rapids. 
Cate loving the crystal clear waters of the Smith River.
Between stretches of whitewater, one can float along and ponder the geology of the arid hillsides and be enchanted by the song of the canyon wren.  Springs of crystal clear water cascade down the hillsides and along their gulches and crevasses grow gigantic carnivorous plants.
Gigantic carnivorous plants growing along the Smith River.
The whitewater rapids on the North Fork of the Smith are fun.  There are lots of class III rapids with about 6-8 class IV rapids keep things fun and interesting.

A huge thank you to groups like the Smith River Alliance and American Whitewater for their continued efforts to protect these waters from environmental threats like mining and advocating for access to river runners.
Jeff and Paul enjoying a lunch break on the North Fork.
 After running the North Fork, we eddied out at our campsite on the Smith for about a week.  We enjoyed whitewater kayak runs on both the Middle and South Forks, mountain biking, camping, and hiking in the giant redwoods.
Jeff enjoying his Dagger Phantom on the Patrick Creek section of the Middle Fork.
The diversity of ecosystems of the Smith River Watershed is amazing.  One of our mountain bike rides took us through 3 distinctly different types of forest - old growth redwood forest, cedar and mixed conifer forest, and Jeffrey Pine Forest. 
Jeff mountain biking through Jeffrey Pines on a ridge above the Smith River.
And the redwoods in the Smith River area are some of the tallest in the world.

After a week on the Smith, we debated staying a bit longer.  We could have easily spent another week boating, playing, relaxing, and exploring the area but felt the need to totally disconnect and do a multiday self support trip.  We headed home to reset and gear up for a 70 mile Eel River whitewater kayak self support trip.
Dehydrating spaghetti sauce for kayak camping.
Our Eel River Trip was fantastic!!!  Stay tuned for a blog post on our Eel River Trip - Paddling the Emerald Triangle.
Cooking over the campfire and enjoying a tasty beverage on the Eel River.