Monday, September 16, 2019

Pressing the Reset Button

How does one reset after a busy work season? 
Sea kayak camping trip on the Mendocino Coast of California.
Jeff and I have found that disconnecting and going camping does the trick for us.  The weather this summer at home on the Mendocino Coast has been phenomenal so we decided on a bit of a staycation for our get away.
Jeff suiting up for our paddle into camp.
Last week we carved out a few days and loaded up our sea kayaks for a coastal camping trip.  Our plan was paddling into a beach and sett up a base camp for 4 nights.  We paddled our Dagger Stratos 14.5s because they carry a lot of gear are fun for coastal play - rock gardening and surfing.
Dagger Stratos 14.5 is a versatile sea kayak for coastal play.
Of course we overloaded our boats with luxury items like fresh vegetables, beer, margaritas, and a  ukulele and books.  Fortunately we had the wind at our backs for our paddle into camp.
Wind at our backs for the paddle into camp.
Our camp was just dreamy - warm, sunny weather and just the two of us camping on a remote beach.  At camp, we read, relaxed, and enjoyed some quiet time alone and together.
Jeff reading the Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast.
The paddling playground surrounding our camp was amazing.  The seas were quite sporty and lured us out for some exploration and rock garden play.
Launching a bit higher than Jeff anticipated on this one.
Evenings were spent cooking over the campfire and playing the ukulele.
Strumming the ukulele while cooking dinner over the campfire.

I am working on a video to share the trip.  I might write more about it but don't want to share too much and hope that you will check out my upcoming video (possibly videos).
View from our tent of the full moon over the sea.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fall 2019

Whew - it was a busy and interesting summer for Liquid Fusion Kayaking.  I love guiding kayak tours and teaching kayaking but have to admit that the day after Labor Day is always a bit of a relief.  The day after labor day marks the end of our busy summer tour season.  After Labor Day,  we will continue to teach and guide but will not be on the water with students 6 days a week.  Many of our trips in the fall are Mendo Your Way - custom sea kayak tours on the Mendocino Coast.  It is fun working with people to create dream trips.
sea kayak mendocino sea caves
Sea kayaking into Mendocino Sea Caves
Now, it is time to get all the "invisible" work of running a kayaking business done as well as work on home improvement projects.  One of my fall projects is getting back to regular blogging.  I am working on a post about choosing the right kayak for rock gardening and coastal play.  I have a couple of instructional posts in mind as well.  If you have ideas or suggestions for my blog, please share them in the comments or contact me through Liquid Fusion Kayaking.

Also on the Fall list is a sea kayak coastal camping trip and coaching at the Lumpy Waters Sea Kayak Symposium.  If you haven't been, it is the funnest sea kayak event. There are still some spaces available.  Check it out and sign up! 
Pegging the Fun Meter at Lumpy Waters in Pacific City Oregon.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Wave in a Cave

Check out my latest HOT Lap video.

My goal for the hot lap series is 1 minute videos that are FUN!!! My goal is to capture a play spot or a before or after work paddle and share it in a quick 1 minute video. Quick means 2 things - 1 minute in length but also a quick edit. Too often, we spend hours editing videos trying to get them to be perfect. My goal is to get faster in my video editing yet still produce a decent video.

Be sure to subscribe to Liquid Fusion Kayaking's YouTube Channel to see them and to see the longer edits. You also might catch them on our Instagram or Facebook.

Be sure to like, comment, and share - this keeps me motivated to keep producing them.

Here's my latest video -


A day at the beach morphs into a sea cave kayak surf session. The Mendocino Coast of California is an awesome playground for whitewater and sea kayaking especially if you enjoy ocean kayak rock gardening and sea cave exploration. On our day off this week, we decided to a beach day was in store. We packed a cooler, beach towel, and of course threw our surf kayaks and whitewater kayaks in the pickup. Cate went for a swim to cool off and discovered this wave in a cave. Of course we had to go surf it. The Tsunami Ranger saying "A wave in a cave is an early grave" came to mind. Today was not the case. Surfing the wave in the cave was great fun and a fun way to spend an afternoon off.

You can watch the video here but best to use this link to view it on YouTube.

Monday, August 5, 2019

HOT LAP - Cache Creek Whitewater

Summer is one of my busiest months on the water so my blog gets a little bit neglected.  I also have to admit that I have been doing more video work than writing.  In the summer, I am guiding trips or teaching lessons most days but strive to get out for fun each day too.  Fun might be a surf session, a mountain bike ride, a trail run, a spin on my Stand Up Paddle Board, a sea kayak paddle, or a rock garden session.
Messing about on the river.
I have been working on my video skills during these play sessions and am creating a series of HOT LAP videos.  My goal for these videos is a quick edit of my media resulting in a 1 minute video sharing the fun that can be had in a before or after work session.  I am enjoying the challenge of editing my footage down to 1 minute but will probably put together a couple of 2-3 minute videos as well.

Here is one of my first HOT LAP Videos - Cache Creek.  Cache Creek aka Crash Creek is a favorite summer getaway for Jeff and I on our day off.  We enjoy the change of scenery, scorching hot weather, and refreshing whitewater river kayaking.

The video is probably best viewed on YouTube.  I hope you enjoy it and will check out more of my Hot Lap Videos.

Be sure to subscribe to Liquid Fusion Kayaking's YouTube Channel for longer edits and a full playlist of 1 minute edits.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sun Protection

Summer is here!!!  The UV seems to be stronger each year.  Many days on the water, I feel fried.  Most chemical sunscreens are not good for your body or the environment.  Mineral sunscreens like zinc work for some but not for others. 

I have found the best sun protection is to be covered up.  Here is my favorite combo at the moment -

For whitewater - river or ocean, I like the Shred Ready Zeta Helmet.  The small is a great fit for my small head and the brim gives lots of sun protection.  For flat water days, I wear a floppy sun hat.  If it is windy, then a ball cap.  Lately I have been digging the fit and sun protection from my new Immersion Research Women's Trucker Hat.  Usually trucker hats are way too big for me but this one fits my pea sized head and gives great sun protection.
As you can see in the photo, I am pretty covered up.  Cold water paddling necessitates a drytop or wetsuit which suffices for sun protection too.  On flat water paddles days, I try to protect my skin from the sun with a lightweight hoodie.  I like the hoodie because it protects my neck and helps to shade more of my face than a regular sun shirt.  I practically live in my Immersion Research Highwater Hoody.
Hoodies are great on and off the water and give extra protection for the neck and face.
To further protect my face, I will wear a sun mask.  These can be a bit of a pain with sun glasses.  Sometimes they interfere with ventilation under the glasses and cause fogging up.  I deal with it or readjust as necessary.
Game face - fish-on!
Of course protecting the eyes from the sun and the glare off the water is super important.  I am hooked on polarized lenses especially those from Maui Jim.  Maui Jim's are a bit pricey but so worth it.  Everything looks crisper with them and their warranty repair service is top notch.

Do you have any suggestions for sun protection?  If so, please share.

Monday, June 3, 2019

I Don't Care Why -

“I don’t care why they invited me. So many times in my life people said no to me because I was a girl.”  Manon Rheaume

Manon Rheaume was the first (and only woman to date) to play in an NHL game.  Check out this video interview with Manon Rheaume.

Being a woman in sport is a double edged sword.  Sometimes, you are discriminated against for being a woman.  Other times, you are include because you are a woman (these "token chic" experiences often lead to further discrimination).

Last year, I stopped posting on my blog and Woman on Water Facebook Page.  I changed my Woman on Water Instagram name to Cate Hawthorne because I was questioning what it meant to be a woman in a professional sports.  

I don't want to be identified by my gender but by who I am.  However, the reality is that my gender does contribute to who I am.  The world is more black and white and male and female than many of us believe or want.  Despite our best intentions, we are not blind to color/race/gender/sexual preference.

I am uncertain if I should be flying the flag as Woman on Water but feel that my contributions have a place.  I am inspired by women like Manon Rheaume.  I hope to inspire others to be the best that they can be and to get out and enjoy life - on an off the water.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Swimming with Your Kayak

Sooner later, it happens . . . your kayak capsizes and you are in the water.

Often kayakers rely on other people to assist them with getting back into their kayak, but sometimes it is necessary to be able to swim your kayak to shore or to swim to your paddling team for assistance. Usually in ocean rock gardens, you will want to swim away from the rocks and toward deep water.  On the river, you usually will be swimming to shore.

The number one thing to do when you capsize is to hold on to your kayak and paddle.  For more on this check out Hold on to Your Kayak.

The second thing to do is to gain your composure and figure out what to do.  Often this means swimming with your kayak away from the hazard that capsized you, swimming to a safe spot, swimming to shore, or swimming to where a friend can help you.

Here are some tips for when you need to swim with your kayak -

1. Right the kayak.  Kayaks move more efficiently right side up.

2.  Get to the end of the kayak (bow or stern).

3.  Grab the carry handle or swim toggle on the end of the kayak with the same hand that you are using to hold onto the paddle.

4.  Choke up on the paddle so that it is streamline and out of the way.

5.  Use your free arm and legs to swim to safety.  We usually use a side stroke similar to what life guards use.

As you are swimming, figure out if you can use wind, waves, or current to help you.

If your friend is swimming, call out to them with encouragement and simple directions.

Practice these skills in easy water to perfect your technique.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Series of Unexpected Storms

Who would have thought that we would have 2 back to back rain storms in the middle of May?  And more rain forecasted in a couple more days?

We were in denial last week when we saw the weather forecast for the 3rd week of May 2019.  We had scheduled rolling lessons, beginner sea kayak lessons, the Big River Walk and Paddle, Whitewater of the Sea, Kayak Safety Clinic, and an Afternoon on the River Benefit.  Those plans all got washed out . . .

It poured and poured and blew and blew all day Wednesday and Thursday.  When it became apparent that we were going to get over 4 inches of rain in under 48 hours, high winds, and more significant rain and wind coming, we cancelled our weekend events and hunkered down for office work and rolling lessons in the pool.

Friday the sun poked out and we had had enough rain to make Rancheria Creek Run.  Rancheria Creek is the primary tributary of the Navarro River.  It takes a lot of rain for it to be runnable and running it in May is relatively unheard of (of course there are debated stories of paddlers running it in May in the 1990's).After a morning of office work, we joined a friend to run Rancheria Creek.   It was a treat to run it in the late spring.  The trees and plants were green, and we felt like we were kayaking in a rain forest. 

Especially spectacular were the wild azaleas blooming along the river.

It was particularly novel to be paddling on a warm, sunny, spring day and wearing shorts and a drytop.  It seems that most of the time when we are running Rancheria, it is raining and chilly.  Usually, we are wearing drysuits and keeping an eye on time to make sure that we finish the run before dark.

We had some large rain storms this winter that flooded and changed many of our local waterways.  Signs of flooding and extreme flows were evident as we paddled down Rancheria Creek.  Many trees were uprooted and lined the river banks. 

As we paddled, we were on our toes watching for trees down across the river creating hazards and strainers.  Sure enough - we encountered a river wide strainer that required portaging.

One never knows the exact flow of Rancheria Creek because there isn't a gauge.  We estimated it to be about 740 cfs but could be guessing too high or too low.  There was enough water for clean routes through most of channels.  Of course, Paul had to try his luck on "The Ledge."

There were also a couple of nice surf waves including this all day wave.

Who knows if it is climate change or just an odd storm pattern.  We do know that we can't control the weather and that it is best to go with the flow - especially if Rancheria Creek is running in the spring.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Dreamy Days on the River

Jeff and I are back home on the Mendocino Coast preparing for Liquid Fusion Kayaking's spring and summer season.  As I work through my projects, I occasionally allow my mind to day dream of our dreamy days on the river.
Evenings on the river - playing the ukulele by the campfire.
For our spring run-off trip this year, we did 2 self support kayak camping trips on the Eel River.  The first trip was a 5 day 70 mile trip on the main fork of the Eel with our friend Jerry. 
Jerry Albright whitewater kayaking on the Eel River.
The second trip was an extremely leisurely 4 day 24 mile trip.  Saving more on this trip for another blog post.  Hint - it was leisurely with a mission.
Lots of fun surf waves . . . even in a loaded boat.
My mind continues to wander back to cloudless 80 degree days, emerald green water, familiar yet fun whitewater, spectacular scenery, wildflowers, and wildlife.
Fun Class II and III Whitewater.
My favorite dreamy days were those when we didn't have to make miles and could leisurely float along the river - immersing ourselves in nature.
Watching a young cinnamon colored bear cruising along the Eel River.
Between Jeff and I, we shot over 1,000 photos.  I will share more photos and more stories from our adventure as I sift through them.  Here are a few of my favorites to give you a taste of our trip.
Kayak camping along the Eel River.
Remnants of the Eel River Rail Road at Island Mountain.
The Eel River's version of "Pick up Sticks."
Gotta love when a man cooks for you over a campfire.
There is a story to go with this photo.  For now, check out the red capped rock behind Jeff on the river.  It is one of my favorite rocks on the Eel River.
We saw lots of pairs of eagles along the Eel River.
Perhaps the happiest couple in the world :)

Monday, May 6, 2019

Inspiring Video

So the rumors are true . . . I have started playing the ukulele.  I am having a blast with it - so much fun that I have figured out how to pack it in my Dagger Katana for multi-day whitewater river kayak trips.

I don't have any aspirations of being a great ukulele player.  I am subscribing to the school of thought that the ukulele is all about fun.

This video uses the ukulele to speak the language of fun.  Check it out here or on YouTube.

Maybe someday, I will be good enough on the ukulele to play a song for one of my video edits.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Mendocino Kayak Videos

If a picture says a thousand words, what does a video say?

Shooting Mendocino Kayaking Videos

Evolution of Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Mendocino Kayak Videos

Last month, I created 2 new videos for Liquid Fusion Kayaking to showcase our Mendocino Kayaking Adventures.  When I uploaded them to YouTube, I spiffed up LFK's YouTube Channel and revised some of our playlists.  Doing so was a bit of a stroll down memory lane.  It is hard to believe that 10 years ago, I created our first video - Rock Gardening on the Mendocino Coast.  I learned a lot from the process and the feedback that I received from viewers.

In 2009, I created our Mendocino Coast Sea Kayaking video.  This is still one of my favorite videos.  I hope someday to recreate it with better quality video.

Fast forward 10 years to 2019

It was fun this week to share and reveal our new videos and to reminisce over our oldies.  I have published over 30 videos for Liquid Fusion Kayaking's YouTube Channel and created several playlists.  It is amazing how far video quality and technology have come - even for us amateurs using hand held point and shoot cameras and simple editing programs.  I think the biggest game changer was when we could shoot and edit HD video without sophisticated equipment and software.  The continual battle with shooting kayaking videos is water spots, lighting and moving water and subjects.  Jive'n is one of my favorite Mendocino Coast kayaking videos.  The good old Necky boats like the Jive are still fun boats for rock gardening and kayak surfing.

This year, I have created and posted 2 quickie - 1 minute videos.  I like the challenge of editing for quality not quantity and the challenge of a 1 minute video that entertains and tells a story.  My first challenge was a 1 minute video to use as a "trailer" or promo video to showcase LFK as an owner/instructor multi-discipline kayak company.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

My second project this year was to portray our Whitewater of the Sea - rock gardening lesson/tour.  We get lots of interest and questions about this trip.  My goal was to create a video that gave an authentic teaser of our Whitewater of the Sea Adventure.  The challenge was to portray it as fun, exciting, challenging, but not scary.  Take a look and let me know how I did.

I hope that you enjoyed the videos and the little stroll down memory land.  I have a couple of future video projects in mind.  If you know anyone who would like to collaborate with us on some fun, inspirational, or instructional videos, we are open to suggestions.  To be the first to see our new videos -

Please subscribe to Liquid Fusion Kayaking's YouTube Channel

Monday, April 22, 2019

Paddling the Emerald Triangle

Kayaking the Eel River in Northern California

Whitewater kayak self-support kayak trip on the emerald green waters of the Eel River.
I first ran the Eel River in 2009.  10 years later, I am still entranced by its magic and feel privileged to have it as my backyard run.  Of course, I wish the flow was more consistent and predictable.  But the uncertainty is what keeps the crowds away and keeps things interesting.  The Eel River has different options for day trips and multi-day trips and both flat and whitewater.  My favorite are the wilderness stretches of the Eel and when we have the luxury of a self-support kayak camping trip.
Kayak Camping on the Eel River.
Dos Rios to Alderpoint is a sweet 46 mile Class III whitewater stretch.  We have enjoyed several high water, whitewater kayak trips from Dos Rios to Alderpoint.  Usually this is just after a significant rainfall and the water is fast and loaded with sediment (The Eel River Watershed has the highest erosion rate in the United States).
Whitewater kayaking down the silt laden Eel River at high water.
Last spring the stars aligned for Jeff and I to paddle the Eel River at lower water and experience its emerald green waters.  Our journey took us down 70 miles of the Eel River from Dos Rios to Dyerville.  This stretch of the Eel River runs through Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt Counties.  The tri-county region is often referred to as the Emerald Triangle for a variety of reasons.  Naming our trip - Paddling the Emerald Triangle was inspired by the beautiful emerald green color of the water as we paddled through the tri-county area.
Late spring run on the emerald green waters of the Eel River.
The 46 miles from Dos Rios to Alderpoint is the Eel's traditional multi-day whitewater run.  At high flow, things are fast and furious.  At low flow things are a bit more relaxed.  At high water (10,000 cfs and higher) the river moves fast.  The rapids have big waves and powerful hydraulics that most would say puts it above its usual Class III rating.
Paddling pal Jerry Albright with a clean high water line through Kekawaka Falls.
At lower water 2,000-4,500 cfs, there are a few Class III pool drop rapids interspersed with Class II and flat stretches.
Playing my way down a pool drop class II rapid on the Eel River below Dos Rios.
The remarkable thing about running the Eel at a lower flow is getting to see many of the fascinating rock formations that are under water on higher water runs.  The rocks of the Eel River are quite varied and interesting.  At lower water, you get to see more of them.
This red capped rocks is one of my favorite rocks on the Eel River.  At high flows creates a scary recirculating eddy into a cave.
One surprise was the huge boulder field on the river right bank of Island Mountain below Island Mountain Falls.
Boulder bank on river right at Island Mountain that you only see at low water.
I also find fascinating all the remnants of the now defunct Eel River Railroad.  At low water, we got to see the infamous car in the river that creates a rapid.
Rail car in the middle of the Eel River.
Since our last trip, the Great Redwood Trail Act was passed.  The state is still working out the logistics but the plan is to create a rails to trails that would go from Marin to Eureka.  Much of this would go through the Eel River Canyon.
Eel River Railroad bridge to Island Mountain.
This is an exciting and awesome project but literally has many obstacles to overcome before hikers and bikers can enjoy a trail through the Eel River Canyon.  Dreams do come true and we are crossing our fingers for this one.
Landslides have made much of the rail line along the Eel River impassable.
The 30 miles from Alderpoint to Dyerville is essentially Class I.  This is where a bit faster current might be nice.  There are some spectacular waterfalls along this stretch as well as a flat water gorge that is the definition of tranquility.  
Waterfalls enhance the scenery of the Eel River Canyon.
One of my favorite parts of this section is going for a hike in the Avenue of the Giants.  These are some of the largest redwood trees in the world.
Hiking through Avenue of the Giants during our Eel River Trip.
After a hike, we are just around the corner from our take-out on the gravel bar at Dyerville.  This is the confluence of the South and Main Forks of the Eel and in the heart of Avenue of the Giants.  Last year we were a bit overwhelmed with hordes of cars and people on the gravel bank.  They were there for the Avenue of the Giants Marathon.  It was quite a shock to go from just the 2 of us for 7 days on the river to seeing hundreds of people.
Cars for Avenue of the Giants Marathon parked at the Dyerville Confluence.
Fortunately the marathoners and fans cleared out by early afternoon as our friends were stopping by to pick us up.  It is always nice to celebrate the conclusion of a great trip with a cold beer.  Our friends styled us with Eel River Brewing Company's Emerald Triangle Pale Ale.
Enjoying fermented Eel River water at the take-out - Eel River Brewing Company 's Emerald Triangle Pale Ale.