American River Whitewater Rafting

September 15th, 2008 SammyRusso

According to a blog post over on the California Mountain Report, the American Rivers are flowing well… there is still plenty of great whitewater rafting now through the end of October.

The Middle Fork American (Class IV) will have flows suitable for whitewater rafting through September 27, 2008. At that point no flows are guaranteed as the engineers will be do maintenance on the dam.  If you are interested in going rafting on the Middle Fork this is your last chance. To get you started, here is a list of Middle Fork American rafting outfitters.

The South Fork American on the other hand is expected to run through the to the end of October. The later you go the more peaceful the canyon will be. If you’re interested in going rafting on the South Fork here is a list of South Fork American rafting outfitters.

22nd Annual Emigrant Trails Bike Trek (ETBT)

September 10th, 2008 Terri Berbena-U'Ren

Team WinksHello fellow cyclists!

I just returned from my 15th year participating in this great, bicycle fundraising event! The ETBT is held every year the weekend after Labor Day and is a 3 day “bicycle vacation”.

We departed on Friday, September 5th to Sunday, September 7th, touring in the beautiful Napa Valley with 3 days cycling and 2 nights camping at the Napa County Fairgrounds which is located in Calistoga. This year the weather was a bit harsh, with temps in the 100 degree mark!

Friday’s ride took us north of town into the Alexander Valley which is quite beautiful. The day started out nice and cool, but by noon it was HOT! Fortunately, we rode at a good speed and were back to the fairgrounds by 1 pm. We showered and spent the rest of the day sitting in the shade, re hydrating, getting massages from the many volunteer massage therapists and sharing our tales from the ride.

Rest stop

Saturday started with another hearty breakfast provided by the catering staff and an eartlier ride time to get out and beat the heat! (I have to say that my new bike was making the work so much easier this year!). Today’s route included a stay on the Napa Valley floor for minimal climbing or choosing to ride up to Pope Valley. We had lunch at Conn Dam (short and middle routes) or at Damonte Hubcap Ranch. Well, we didn’t really have lunch, as my cycling buddie and I got to the lunch stop by 10:15 am and it wasn’t even set up yet! So…we just got back on the bike and off we went! We returned to camp and decided to have iced coffee instead back in downtown Calistoga…a great decision :) Saturday nights festivities also include a dance…let me just say that all ‘trekkers’ look forward to this night of the event and go ALL out with costumes, blinking lights, outrageous props…well, you get the picture. I really never understood how all these crazy trekkers can get up and ride again after Saturday night!

Sunday, we had the option to again stay on the Napa Valley floor (minimal climbing which we were all for!), take a challenging climb up towards Angwin, or a major climb (experienced cyclists only, this includes a 16% grade) to the Petrified Forest area. The ride was pretty straight forward and we pushed along, back in camp in 2 1/2 hours. There was a BBQ finale in camp at the fairgrounds and much to our delight the shower trucks were still onsite, yeah!

 Anyway, another successful year and many thanks to those of you who have continued to support me each year…I couldn’t do it without your sponsorship :)

Gauley River Rafting – Gauley Season 2008

September 2nd, 2008 SammyRusso

West Virgina has some great whitewater rafting and kayaking.. but the best is only available for short window each year know as Gauley Season. The Upper Gauley is world-class Class V boating, while the Lower Gauley is a litte tamer.. Class IV.

The Gauley River is backed up by Summersville Dam near Fayetteville, WV, and will begin releasing flows for whitewater rafting and kayaking starting September 5, 2008 through October 19, 2008. Flows are scheduled to release Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday through October 6, then select Saturdays and Sundays for the next couple of weekends. Visit Boating Beta for complete release details.

For a list of Gauley River whitewater rafting outfitters, visit the Adventure Sports Online Gauley River Rafting Directory.

Read more…

Last posting of the adventure

September 1st, 2008 Terri Berbena-U'Ren

Greetings everyone!


We’re safely in port, having arrived on Friday, August 29 to a rousing group of friends, family and well wishers.  A surprising, and unexpected arrival party to say the least.  But I’m getting ahead of myself …


The last four days of our journey contained the highest of highs and lowest of lows so far.  It tested and challenged ourselves, made us question our motivations and verified our place in the natural world.


Three days out found us approximately 250 miles of the California coast in a favorable position for a beam reach to the Gate.  We were looking forward to finishing the trip and having a cold one with family and friends.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the expected 30-knot winds were going to be difficult, but we knew we’d get through them fairly quickly.  Well, little did we know the full extent of our weather.  Yes, the winds were 30 + knots (actually, they topped out at 35 sustained with gusts to 37) but it was the combined swell and wind waves that made for the roughest water for the whole trip by far.  The swell was coming from large low-pressure systems off the Oregon coast.  These “rollers” were conservatively 30 feet from crest to trough (later in the bar I overheard the number had grown to 40 feet).  Throw another 5 feet of wind wave on top of the swell and you have the makings of a maelstrom that I hope to not repeat soon.  The sail configuration at this point had been reduced to a triple reef in the main and zero jib.  That is less than 20% of our full sail area.  Later, I learned that it was the worst seas the skipper had experienced in his 40 years … Needless to say, for two days life on board was difficult.  The boat was being tossed around like a cork.  The incessant howl in the rigging foretold more long hours of this torment.  Cooking was masochistic due to the motion.  Pam braved it all and delivered wonderful meals to some equally beat-up sailors.  Around this point you might have seen a deviation in our track away from the Gate, like towards Monterey.  This change was an effort to “run off” from the gale to achieve a safer, more comfortable ride and get into an area of lower winds to the south.  Around the latitude of Half Moon Bay things settled down with winds in the teens and diminishing waves.  By early Friday morning the seas were flat and we were ghosting along in 8 knots of breeze.


Being the rookie, the watch system was designed to sandwich me between the two experienced hands.  That way an overlap of sorts wouldn’t be too much of a burden for the skipper or first mate.  Hence, my 0200 to 0500 watch slot was pretty well established and something I loathed but accepted.  For those that know me, I’m not a late night person.  Early morning, say 0500 or later is just fine.  Well, for once I was thankful for that 0200 slot, as that early Friday morning was simply magic.  To set the scene, we had a sky that was absolutely filled with more stars than you can imagine.  The Milky Way was so bright that it created its own reflection on the water, like a full moon would.  Of course, the moon was nowhere to be seen.  Add to this the bioluminescence in the water that created its own “milky way” trailing behind the boat.  This phenomenon is a result of millions of tiny marine organisms that emit light when excited by movement.  While I was perfectly content to ponder the meaning of life in this environment, the arrival of a pod of dolphin simply bordered on surreal.  They were like torpedoes, trailing bioluminescence through the water, diving under the boat, riding the bow wave and occasionally breaking the surface with their exhalations.  They were gregarious, with their squealing dolphin sounds and their seeming invitation to come out and play in the neighborhood.  Pam and I watched them for hours, feeling a connection to the sea unlike anything we have experienced the whole trip. 


By the time the sun rose on the horizon before us, the Farallon Islands were in view and we were motoring with zero wind.  We still had approximately 35 miles to the gate, so with the fog closing in around us, it was all hands on deck to keep watch for other vessels.  Soon the foghorns of the headlands north of the Golden Gate Bridge led us into the bay with Pam having the honor of driving the boat under the famous span.  The fog lifted enough to provide a postcard view of the City and enough wind to carry us through the bay without the motor.  Closing in on Vallejo, we were faced with one last trick from Murphy.  While the cell phones were getting warm from all the non-stop activity, the wind diminished to near nothing.  We needed to motor the last few miles.  No problem, just fire up the motor like we did countless times.  Unless it’s the last time.  Turn the key, hit the switch.  Nothing.  Silence.  No time for a beer and cigar, even if we had them!   After some discussion about a solution (which included a tow from a yacht club boat) I relied on the old hotwire method by shunting the starter solenoid with a screwdriver.  It worked!  We motored in to Vallejo Yacht Club to a surprisingly large reception.  Those first few steps on the dock were a bit difficult, as there seemed to be a permanent motion going on, although nobody else seemed to notice it.  I’m also convinced someone secretly placed gimbals on the house foundation while we were gone as it too seems to have a permanent motion that only Pam and I notice.  Hmmm.


In closing, I came up with three things I learned from this trip:


1.         Hawaii is a really long way from San Francisco.


2.         You hear people say all the time what a small world it is.  I’m convinced these same people are not offshore sailors.


3.         As much as you may feel alone out there, the cruising community is a surprisingly tight-knit group.  One of Pam’s responsibilities was helping the skipper with the evening “roll call” of returning boats.  Her 12:00 midnight shift consolidated the position and condition information for a handful of boats.  This information was then sent via e-mail to the Pacific Cup organization for posting on their website.



Fair winds,


Pam and Roger


ps: There were many, many more wonderful and interesting experiences that do not appear on these pages.  If you want to learn more you’ll have to buy us a drink.


Home at last!

Entering the bay 


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