As I dip my paddle into the Russian River each and every time, I’m awestruck by the beauty here. Each paddle has been unique. Perhaps my favorite was a full moon paddle in March 2015. Paddling upstream from Jenner as the sun sets and as the night sky gets darker by each stroke. It appears I misjudged when the moon would rise. So, I paddle very slowly, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I’m in the lead and there are 10 paddlers behind me. I finally decide to turn out my headlamp, as the reflection off the water isn’t helping. I can hear things moving in the water. Perhaps a sea lion, a hungry Great Blue Heron, or something my imagination has created that sends goose bumps up my arm.
I’m pretty familiar with the river, as I’ve paddled here many times by now. I know there are shallow sections and also know to stay as close to the center as possible. This knowledge offers a little comfort.
After we paddled about a mile upstream, we re-group and decide to put two paddlers behind me with headlights. This helps me see the shoreline without blocking my vision. Ah, much better. I guide us upstream as cautiously as I can. Now I see bats flying in front of me, I hear my fellow paddlers chit chat and humor, which tells me they feel more at ease now too. We’re talking to each other so we can keep tabs on all paddlers as we continue on our way. The distance to our destination, Casini Ranch from Jenner, is about 7 river miles. This is a much easier journey during the daylight, I tell myself.
We all arrived safe and sound, and the paddlers who were lucky enough to be a part of the journey still reflect and talk about this great adventure!
This is the launch spot in Jenner. It’s a great place to stretch the legs and go for a bite before you start to head back.