Bridget, Stijn, and I met up in Gent for a one-way paddle from outside the city to the city center, where we partook in typical Belgian activities like beer-drinking and french fry-munching. We paddled under ancient bridges, circumnavigated a moat around a castle, and broke into a canal house after Bridget jumped into the canal to save her phone... Read on :)
There are 21 Apostle Islands in Lake Superior (on the southwest corner), which were named by French missionaries after the 12 apostles (they clearly couldn't see all 21 islands). The islands were formed by wind wave erosion between ice ages, and were glaciated repeatedly after that. Terraces and wave cut platforms suggest that water levels used to be higher in Lake Superior. Of particular interest are the sea caves found on many of the islands. The Devils Island Formation geology is a red sandstone that formed from rivers depositing sediment thousands of years ago. The sea caves form when waves erode and undercut the base of the cliffs.
Another (attempted) early start! At 6:50am (only 20 minutes late) we departed the campsite, made a quick-ish coffee stop in Friday Harbor, and continued to our second San Juan Island kayaking destination: Haro Strait. This strait runs along the west side of San Juan Island and is known as the best location for orca whale sightings. The main public put-in site is at Smallpox Bay in San Juan County Park, which is apparently where a number of Native Americans plunged into the icy cold water to rid themselves of smallpox and instead died of pneumonia...
5am: it’s time to wake up for the earliest ferry! In classic Nena-style we (Nena/Sara/Bridget/Ale/Alex/Maria) took the first ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor at 6:25am. We were directed to Lane #4 where we parked, ate yogurt and cereal, and watched a gorgeous sunrise. We wandered into the waiting area and found a Seattle’s Best coffee machine, which delivered wonders for $1.50. “Now boarding the 6:25 ferry to Friday Harbor.” Oh crap, we return to the car just in time to board the ferry, parked behind another pair of kayakers and next to a massive flammable liquids truck. The ferry to Friday Harbor lasted ~1 hour.
At 8:20am on Easter morning, Alice and I simultaneously pulled into our favorite Park-N-Ride in San Rafael. We have a history of perfect timing - we're both 10 minutes early. We loaded White Lightning onto my car (next to Big Purple) and headed up the 101. Estero Americano flows into Bodega Bay, roughly 1.5 hrs north of the Bay Area. The launch site is at the end of a dirt road that spurs off the intersection of Marsh Road and Valley Ford Franklin School Road. Another kayaker arrived shortly after us, and spent 20 minutes urging Alice and I to join a kayak racing club in Berkeley.
Alice, Stijn, Johnny, and I met at the Berkeley Marina at 9am for a very "unplanned/casual" paddle. I use quotes because it took us a week of rapid-fire emails and changing plans to reach this point. Most of us (except Johnny) had abandoned our boats for far too long. For most of us, this was our first sea kayaking trip out of Berkeley. We launched from the docks near Cal Adventures on the south side of the marina. The parking is free and the launch works well at most tide levels.
Today I'm digging into the archives to recount my first true overnight kayak camping trip in California (sad, I know). Beth, Sara, Eddie, Joel, Christina, Brian, Alice, and I camped overnight at Tomales Beach in Tomales Bay. Dane + 2 friends joined us for the Saturday paddle and lunch.
Clear Lake, in Lake County, California, has been on my to-paddle list since I discovered it on a map and learned about its fascinating history a few months ago. More than a few friends responded with apathy at visiting the lake, alluding to its reputation for motorboats, rednecks, and water quality issues. While I certainly love a remote, undeveloped lake, I also enjoy exploring other flavors of paddling! Alice agreed to join the long day trip. We left the Bay at noon, drove about 2.5 hours (after accidentally "meeting up" at two different park-n-rides in Novato), and put our boats on the water around 4pm. Within 5 minutes we jumped out of our boats to refresh, ignoring the algal bloom that filled the water around us.
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
In addition to the blog, check out the Water Nerd section, where I write about coastal engineering and hydrology.
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