Post Christmas I tied my board on top and headed north. Charlie and I rendezvoused at Big River. It was rough. We turned south again and put in at Albion.
It was my first try at NorCal condition freediving. I only puked a little bit. I wasn’t hunting, but Charlie confirmed that the visibility was mediocre and the fish were hard to find. He still speared five. I really only hit bottom a few times but it sure was neat for the few seconds I was down there. I loved it and will go again.
Camp at McKerricher was infused with beer and grilled fish. CA State Parks are expensive. $43 for the night.
After a walk to the beach, breakfast in Fort Bragg and a stop at the dive shop, Charlie headed home. I went north.
The running tally of the places I went after:
- stopped at McKerricher and another beach farther north. The fog bank rolling in was beautiful.
- camped and jogged at Westport-Union up on the bluffs. What a stellar place to camp.
- lunched under the redwoods at Richardson Grove.
- stopped at Benbow but there wasn’t enough water to paddle.
- intentionally drove the very long way to the Mattole via Ettersburg. It’s a curvy and rural few hours on a mostly single lane road. I was surprised by the number of people that live so far off the grid. It’s definitely a center of the west’s back to the lander movement. I’m sure most of them have moved from vegetables to pot.
- camped two nights at the Mattole estuary. Sat on the beach, walked south beyond Punta Gorda.
- stopped in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Things of note:
I love solos. Read a book, two New Yorkers and two High Country News’. I was asleep around 9pm and would wake up and read for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. I slept in my car each night.
I saw at least twelve whales one afternoon. I didn’t see anyone else whale watching.
It was around the king tide and the lows were extreme. The tidepools extended up and down the coast. I found a lot of cool things, including a fish head that was about 20 inches wide. The sea lions at Punta Gorda were making farting noises with their mouths.
The outdoor highlight of my Thanksgiving break was paddling on the bay. My uncle and I put in at Mission Creek and took out at the Dolphin Club. It’s an impressive paddle along the city’s sky scrapers, under the Bay Bridge and past a long line of piers.
We started by sliding under the low draw bridges at high tide, sitting on our boards to get under them. After passing the ball park, we hit the open bay with a current in our favor.
Conditions were calm. Every once in a while we’d pass people gathered on public access piers. They’d snap photos. We didn’t see any other paddlers out there.
I’m looking forward to doing it again.
The weekend also included a day of surfing in Pacifica, a bike ride, and an afternoon paddle on the American River.
I’ve been on the water a few times every week. Most of it has been hyper local; basically paddling between home and work. I like going under the bridges. Enjoying nature while people crawl along I-80 or I-5. My recent trips further afield have seen me bringing the board to SF Bay and Lake Natoma.
I paddle and swim. Simply can’t resist jumping in and letting the board float free. The wildlife is nearby. Sea lions, otters, birds and salmon.
The river is mostly used by veteran fishermen and the homeless. It’s fun interacting with them.
Sadly, the season is basically over. Daylight savings has closed down the option of paddling after work (at least without lights.) Still, there’s an ever increasing number of places that I want to bring my board.