Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winter Paddle at Cosumnes River Preserve.

After what feels like weeks of being cooped up in the house and shop I finally got some time to get out and explore one of my favorite local paddling spots. I used this trip as an excuse to test out the North Shore Atlantic that we just got in. Ron and I got to the Preserve at around 1:00PM and got on the water shortly after.

 Although it was cool outside the wind was flat calm and the paddling conditions were perfect.
Strait away from the launch we headed right under Franklin Blvd bridge. This leads you into some very skinny waters refereed to by kayakers as "The Back Door".  It's called that because it's a sneaky back way to get into Lost Slough without having to paddle miles to get there. Thats not to say that we didn't earn our paddle on this day. I had no idea what the tides were, and on this day nether of us cared because it was all about the adventure. Adventure it was. It was the lowest tides I have ever seen going through this area. Here is a pic of Ron hopping out of his kayak at the first portage. 

We stopped for a minute to scout out the area and enjoy the dense riparian forest. It was alive with the sounds of birds and critters all around. 
This is where we had to go next. 

Dispite what it looks like, the portage is all sandstone rock and not mud. 

 Here is a closer look at what we were about to paddle through.
After a few minutes we were back in our kayaks and moving on through tight skinny waters. The nice this is that enough kayakers use this passage every year that the black berries and low hanging branches are not really an issue.

Here I am seal launching into the next pool. 

 It wasn't to far until we got to the next low spot. 90% of the times I have been through here I have been able to just paddle right over this low section, but due to the super low tides that day we had to portage. Thankfully the ground is hard and flat which makes for and easy carry.

 Before to long at all Ron and I were back on the water. The slough opens up little by little as it winds through the surrounding wetlands. If you look real hard from I-5 you can actually see the slough we are paddling on. It goes right under the freeway.

An old boat that has been abandon for as long as I can remember. 

 After you go for about a 1/4 mile or so you go under I-5 and the slough continues to get bigger. You see signs of farming, and even the footings of an old bridge. After about 1/2 mile or so you get to a break in the dike. This is a great time to have a chart if you are unfamiliar with the area. You can go many directions here and its all beautiful paddling, but you want to make sure you know how to get back. There are a couple of loops you can make to get back to the preserve, but on this day we decided to keep right and explore a couple of back waters.
Here is the view from my cockpit as we paddled around Lost Slough. 

The water was mirror flat. 

After an hour or so of exploring we decided to head back to the launch and go grab lunch. The water had continued to ebb the whole time we paddled which made for an Epic Portage back to the Cosumnes.
The North Shore Atlantic is a dream to paddle. It's got the best cockpit fit out of any poly sea kayak I have been in. 

 Instead of hopping in and out of my kayak I decided to wade my kayak in the shallow water. Thank God for Kokatat Drysuits. This was my favorite parts of the day.
Full speed ahead. This is one of the areas we had to walk our boats through. Looks worse in the picture than I remember. 

Some very cool rock formations. 

I'm sure thankful for a friend like Ron, who is always up to join me on a paddling mission. 

I think Ron was happy to see the end of that Portage.  
 At the end of the portage, we headed back up to Franklin Blvd, seen above. I noticed a couple of old cars that had been exposed by the low tide. I have been here 100 times and I have never noticed these. It's always cool to see what kind of stuff is lurking under the delta waters.

 As we headed back to the ramp we spotted a bunch of birds up to the Cosumnes River so we decided to paddle a little bit longer in hopes to see some more wild life. I'm so glad we did. As we parked our kayaks in the tules we spotted a river otter who was diving and picking up clams. He just swam up river and we fallowed a few hundred feet back. It was a really cool site.
 A short while after this we decided to call it a day and head for lunch. We had packed a lot into a 2 and a half hour paddle. Before we left the preserve Ron wanted to show me this cool boardwalk that he goes to all the time to watch the Sand Hill Cranes fly in. It was so beautiful. You walk along the wetlands surrounded by thousands of birds of all different types. Huge flocks of cranes and geese flying over in formation. I'm so thankful to have a resource like the Cosumnes River Preserve so close to home for paddling and hiking.

 All and all we had a stellar day. It's hard to believe I was almost going to blow off going paddling to sit around the house and nap. It just goes to show that when you choose to be active and explore God's creation, there is always a reward. I hope this will encourage you to get out and explore. Here is California we are so spoiled to have great weather year around and we should take advantage of it. If you don't have a drysuit or a wetsuit for cooler days, buy one! You will never regret that decision. The very first time you have a day like this you will feel like it paid for itself.

Last stop Hunan House for all you can eat Mongolian BBQ! 


  1. What a great travel log - thanks Dan

  2. Great write up Dan!! I can't wait to check it out! Although I'll check the tides first ;)