Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eel River Whitewater Class

Its always a treat to get to run the Eel River in May.  With a wet winter and spring, we expected that it would be running still in May and scheduled a whitewater river kayaking class.
Whitewater kayaking class on the Eel River.
We gave first dibs on the class to several of our regular customers and then through word of mouth it filled up and we had a waiting list.

The weekend was spectacular.  We had nice weather and a fun, friendly flow for learning.

Our students built confidence and skills over the 2 day class.
Whitewater kayaking fun on the Eel River.
Several joined us for an optional day 3 of running the river.  This was a great experience for them to practice their skills from the weekend and enjoy another beautiful day on the Eel.
Tunnel 2 rapid on the Eel River.
Jeff and I got to tune up our whitewater river coaching skills.
Jeff Laxier coaching whitewater river kayaking on the Eel River..
A wildlife highlight of the weekend was getting to see lamprey's in the water - both alive and dead.  Pacific lamprey are not technically an eel but are the namesake for the Eel River.
Pacific lamprey die after spawning.
Sadly our season on the Eel is over until next year.  We are planning a variety of whitewater classes for next spring.  Our whitewater fix is not of the salty variety - whitewater of the sea!!!
Whitewater ocean kayaking on the Mendocino Coast





Friday, May 5, 2017

Spring Run Off 2017

We are back from our Spring Run Off 2017 Trip.  This year we journeyed 118 miles down Oregon's John Day River.
Jeff and Cate kayak the John Day River. Photo by Cate Hawthorne
In 2011, Jeff and I started the tradition of a Spring Run Off Trip.  In 2011, we did a Mountains to Sea Whitewater River Kayak Trip on the Eel River.  On this trip, we discovered that we both love multi-day river kayak camping trips.  Since 2011, we have scheduled a couple of weeks in April to go with the flow - down river.  Our spring run off trips have included the Eel River, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, the McCloud River, the Upper Sacramento, the Smith River, the South Fork Eel River, the Colorado through Black Canyon, the Owyhee River, and most recently the John Day River.
Jeff enjoying the scenery and geology of the John Day River. Photo by Cate Hawthorne
Boom - we are home now and getting ready for our busy season with our first Whitewater of the Sea Adventures and a Sea Kayak Rock Garden Class.  Next week, it is setting up our Noyo River location for our summer tour season on the Mendocino Coast.  Before we get too busy with our summer season, we look forward to sharing photos and tales of this year's spring run off trip on the John Day and will start dreaming of our next trip.  Please let us know if you have any suggestions.
A Bighorn Sheep on watches us float by on the John Day River.  Photo by Cate Hawthorne


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Full Immersion Surf Kayak Weekend

Last weekend, 6 paddlers joined us for a full immersion weekend of surf kayak skill building.  The idea was a basic whitewater kayak skill instruction specific to surf and rock gardens.  We started the weekend in the comfort of the CV Starr Center Pool with roll instruction and roll tune-ups.
Kayak roll instruction in Fort Bragg's community swimming pool.  Photo by Cate Hawthorne
After lunch we progressed to the beach.  The goal of the Full Immersion Class was whitewater kayak skills and surf and rock garden instruction but a sizable swell nixed the plans for instruction in the rocks.  One of our surf breaks was perfect for learning and we maximized our first afternoon of class coaching our students in the surf.
Fun, friendly waves for kayak surfing.  Photo by Jeff Laxier
One of our favorite drills for all skills levels is having paddlers hand paddle in the soup zone (the area of the surf zone nearest the beach where waves have already broken and are mostly whitewater foam piles).  This is fun and challenging and a great way to build balance and edge control in the soup zone.
Hand paddling in the surf to build balance and edge control.  Photo by Jeff Laxier.
From there, we progressed to controlled landings.  Some coaches call this following the wave in.  It is one of the hardest skills to learn in the surf but with diligence and practice one of the most valuable.  The idea is maintaining control by timing and positioning yourself so that you back paddle over the face of the wave and ride the foam pile in.  It is definitely a dance with the sea.
A student back paddling to get on top of the wave for a controlled landing.  Photo by Jeff Laxier
Of course, we finished the day with a little surf session emphasizing surf etiquette and a circuit.
A student catching a wave in LFK's surf kayak class.  Photo by Jeff Laxier
Day two began with scouting several locations and seeing first hand the effects of tide and swell.  The substantial long period swell and negative tide made for some good examples of hazardous surf zones.  While we waited for the tide to fill in at our venue for the day, we followed up with the previous day's roll instruction, stroke work, and waveology.
LFK's Cate Hawthorne explains the difference between short and long period waves.  Photo by Jeff Laxier
Gale force winds were forecasted but fortunately didn't show in the area that we had chosen to work.  The surf at the break where we were working was monstrous, but we found an area on the inside to work.
LFK's Cate Hawthorne coaching a student onto a wave.  Photo by Jeff Laxier
It was a fun weekend for all with lots of learning and skill building.  We are looking at doing more full immersion courses that include rolling instruction.  If you are interested, please let us know so we can keep you posted.
Thumbs Up for LFK's Full Immersion Surf Kayak Weekend.  Photo by Jeff Laxier