Today was the day! We did a bit of internet searching last night to check local tides and possible put-in sites for a trip on an inland lake north of Crescent City. On Google Maps, the two lakes looked accessible but sometimes it’s hard to find a launch site where there is a lot of private land surrounding the lake or where there are wildlife refuges. Lake Talawa and Lake Earl have both.
I found an old website for a kayaking group that is no longer active, but they decided to keep the site up so people could use the information. I’m sure glad they did! We drove north around Earl Lake wandering off towards the west until we came to an extensive area of old roads that weren’t maintained any longer. According to the web site, there was a subdivision planned here that never made it. The roads were cracked and full of potholes, and as we approached the lake it was apparent that we were the only people around for miles.
Another possible deterrent could be that the lake was too low and too muddy to launch there. Instead, we found tules and sedges, with ground underfoot that was firm enough to support not only us, but the Tracker. We parked just feet from the water and launched effortlessly.
With a new boat it is always a bit thrilling to try it for the first time. This boat is so stable and comfortable there wasn’t a moment of wobble or concern. It felt great. Surprisingly, the cockpit is really quite big and the boat is about as wide as my old boat. The keel seems smoother, but Mo didn’t think they tracked any better than our old less expensive boats. However, lifting them to the racks is the deciding factor here, not speed or agility. We aren’t racers at all, and just want to get around easily, have a boat that tracks well, and is roomy and comfortable, and we can lift overhead without groaning. Check on all counts!
I it was still quite foggy, with only filtered sun coming through so the landscape all around us looked surreal. I knew the lake shape from the phone and could see where we were on the lake, but the distances and the changes in water levels made for some interesting moments. Accompanying our paddle was the incredible sound of huge crashing surf just beyond the dunes. With the fog it was hard to discern just where we were, and thinking we were at the dunes I checked on the iPhone to find we were still in the middle of the lake with some islands that didn’t show up on Google Earth.
We paddled on to the ever increasing crash of the surf, and I wondered if the lake was perhaps breaching the dunes as it sometimes does when the water is high. Suddenly we were surrounded by white floating sea foam that looked for all the world like small icebergs. As we approached the beach we could see really huge waves that were breaking over the dunes and felt the surges of the incoming water. The tide was supposed to be receding and this definitely wasn’t feeling like receding at all! I read something on the weather page last night about a huge ocean swell that was coming this direction, with high surf warnings and waves to 25 feet. Sure made me nervous to see that water cresting over the dunes toward me! I turned and ran and Mo laughed at me, but we felt the swell again and didn’t have to paddle much at all to go back inland fairly quickly.
On the way back to our launch site we saw some otters playing, and a huge flock of snow geese flew overhead. We saw a lot of blue and white herons along the marshy shores. In the fog, everything looked much bigger and yet farther away than it actually was. There was no way to get a feel for where we were at all. I was really glad for the IPhone GPS and map, believe me!
Once back to the car, we loaded up effortlessly, excited about how easy our maiden voyage was. We decided to go back toward Crescent City and explore the other side of the lakes toward the ocean along Pebble Beach Road. Once we got there, we could see a lot of viewing activity along the headlands, with cars parked and people hiking out to high places and watching the surf. Once we did the same we discovered why. The waves were HUGE. It is impossible to take any kind of photos that actually show the scale of these waves coming into the shore. There are headlands and sea stacks in this vicinity that are at least 100 feet high and the waves were breaking completely over them. The waves were at least 30 feet tall, and breaking very far out from shore. There were all kinds of warnings out about staying away from the breakwater and not turning your back on the ocean, se we paid attention to all that and stayed up high.
It was truly exciting. The power of the ocean is so huge, and sometimes with just normal waves it is easy to forget how she can be in a storm. The part that was even more amazing is that there was no storm going on here at all, in fact there wasn’t even any wind. What an exciting thing to see. Mo lived on the ocean near Half Moon Bay for more than 30 years and I spent a considerable amount of time at the ocean as well. Neither of us have ever seen waves like those we saw today.
As always, there are many more photos on my Picasa website for this day linked here.