I started to use "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" for this blog but, this paddle on the Eel River really cries out to be recognized by Van Morrison. My second time joining the "Interpretive Paddle" offered by State Parks and led by two Park rangers. I truly enjoyed the rag-tag fleet and its total lack of pretentiousness. Once again, my cohorts piloted a variety of vessels from short river kayaks to inflatable canoes and everything in between. Skill levels were also varied, from the experienced guys who would get distracted by the eddies and play to those of us simply trying to AVOID the obstacles. Lacking experience, there were several exciting episodes, one on the very first river bend past the start. It was a "Tippy Canoe and kayaks, too" with three vessels sucked into the snags and flipped over. I had benefit of a river guy in front of me and I rode the current carefully, following his example to "dirt track" around the turn. We hung for a while waiting for bodies and belongings to be collected and placed back in their boats before we continued on. One of the first things I learned about paddling is "dress for immersion", clearly not a lesson learned by all. To their credit, they were back on board and we continued - I'm not sure that I wouldn't have gone back to the start and called it a day after that.
This would be Robert, one of our Park Ranger guides (not very tall apparently but the dude walks on water!) guiding some onto the river bar where we made a stop at Canoe Creek, the location of the 2003
wildfire that ripped through the old growth forest. The trees and meadow are coming back nicely and it was wonderful to be standing in a spot that is seldom seen.
On these forays, I have to remind myself to look up once in awhile. If I don't, I miss things like this osprey nest perched on top of a tree.
For a day that started out pretty chilly when we were standing in the parking lot at 8:30, it reached into the mid- to high-70's by the time we pulled out around three. I call the day a success, my first with the boat on my new car. I managed to tie it down properly and it stayed put both directions. Twas both an exhilarating and exhausting day. I learned more about reading the current and recognizing that where the river wants me to go is not always where I should be going. As always, it was great to be back on the water.