Kayaking the San Gabriel River

Sunday June 2, 2024

Dear Diary,

I woke up at 4:45 am and wrote my blog waiting for Alan to message me confirming our kayaking trip. He said he would check to make sure the weather and water levels were favorable and if everything looked good he would text “Let’s Go” at 5 am. At 5:07 am when I hadn’t heard from him, I sent him a text asking if it was a go. He texted back that it was. Yay! I left Angel asleep on the trundle bed and got up. I let out the chickens, ducks, geese and kittens. I went in the house to get ready. Christopher was still in bed. I fed Bits and made tea with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, lime juice, orange peel, neem leaf and honey. Then I blended up half of a huge watermelon. It made a gallon of juice. I put it in two 64 oz. jars. I packed one of the jars in the cooler to take with me and put the other one in the refrigerator. Then I made a smoothie with 7 bananas, 3 apricots, cacao, cherry juice, fresh pineapple juice and fresh almond milk. I put that smoothie in the cooler. I dressed in my bathing suit and river shoes and made sure my waterproof phone case was in the truck. I made a trail mix of raw almonds, pumpkin seeds and homemade banana chips. I was officially ready to go. 

I drove to town and stopped at the Episcopal church to set up the altar and do some touch up cleaning. I arrived at one-stop, our kayaking meeting place, 10 minutes early. Alan and his friend Peggy were already there with the kayaks. I got out to talk to them and the 4th person going kayaking with us drove up. His name is Austin and he was the youngest of our group. 

After Austin’s kayak got loaded up by him and Alan, we headed out. Peggy rode with me and Austin rode with Alan. I followed Alan to the location we were getting out at, county road 429. I parked my truck there, then Peggy and I rode with the guys to our put-in location at Apache Pass. It was a great place to start out. We were able to pull up right next to the river and there was a nice eddy with a gravel bed to launch off from.

Alan was in a canoe and had a cooler with all our food and drinks in it. The rest of us were in kayaks. It was heavenly down on the San Gabriel river, we saw deer and turtles. Lots of different birds were singing and Austin would identify them for us. There were huge cypress trees and lots of boxelder maples. Boxelder maple leaves look like poison ivy but they won’t cause a rash. We stopped a few times and I snacked on my nuts and dried banana mix and drank my watermelon smoothie. One time when we stopped there was greenbrier nearby and I ate some tips and young leaves. I love foraging wild edibles. 

The river was high and running fast at 574 cfs. Needless to say, little paddling was required other than avoiding obstacles. There were low hanging branches and log jams that covered a lot of the river bed. Alan was yelling at his friend Peggy a lot because she would go the wrong way to avoid a log jam and get caught up or she wouldn’t staying with the group. Peggy would ignore him and go along doing her own thing. I found their interactions incredible funny. Anytime I heard Alan saying, “damn it Peggy, you’re doing exactly what I told you not to do”, I would start laughing. Such characters. Peggy said they’d been friends for years and they like the bantering that goes in between them. 

There was only one log jam that went completely across the 75 feet width of the river. I was in the lead when I spotted it up ahead. I pulled over to warn the others as they came around the corner. They all pulled off on the opposite side of the river as me to take a look at it. I paddled over to them. I attempted to turn and pull up along side a log next to the bank when the tip of my kayak caught the log mid turn and flipped me right over. I had a life jacket on and it didn’t scare me. I still had my paddle and was hanging on the kayak as I began swimming to the log that was along side the bank. My main goal was to keep myself from going down stream. I wanted to avoid getting caught against the log going across the river. Alan grabbed ahold of my kayak and said he had it. That freed up an arm and I was able to easily swim to the log along the side and grab a hold of it. I pulled myself out of the water.

Austin was standing on the log going across the River assessing the situation. I looked things over from my vantage point and figured if I could get on the other side of that log, everyone else could push their kayaks and the canoe over and I could hold them by the ropes until they all climbed over. I walked over some logs on the side of the river and close to the bank, I went under the log going across. Alan and Austin pushed the canoe over and tied it to a log. Austin pushed my kayak over the log and I held it by the rope. Then he pushed his kayak over and with a slick move he jumped in it as it reached the other side. Alan helped Peggy get out of her kayak and pushed it over the log. When her kayak was almost completely across, he helped her get back in it and pushed her the rest of the way over. Success! 

Alan got in his canoe and I got in my kayak and we were heading down river again. We didn’t come across anymore obstacles and it was easy going until we reached our take-out point. Our take out point was really muddy with slick clay. Alan got out first and was sliding all over the place, covered in mud. Austin got out next, him and Alan made it up to dry ground and pulled his kayak up. Peggy was next, the men had her stay in her kayak and they pulled her up the side of the hill until she could get out on dry ground. It was a funny scene watching her get pulled up the hill and Peggy and I were laughing and laughing. I was next and the men pulled me up the same way they did Peggy. After all the kayaks were pulled up above the river bank and on flat ground, we all did a team effort and pulled up the canoe. It was quite the adventure. 

Austin rode with me to go get Alan’s truck while Peggy and Alan stayed with the kayaks and canoe. When we arrived back, the guys loaded up the boats and put away the gear. Peggy and I walked around picking up garbage that people had littered all over. We all ate and drank our hydrating drinks. We were happy with our successful kayaking trip. Alan told me that he was impressed with how calm I was when I flipped the kayak over. I told him that I was used to whitewater rafting and this was nothing compared to that. Getting thrown out in the middle of a rapid is intense and I’d had it happen to me a couple of times. Even though the San Gabriel was running fast, it was mellow compared to whitewater rafting. 

Peggy rode with me and we all met back at one-stop. We congratulated each other on a job well done and headed our separate ways. I arrived home at around 1:30 pm. Bits excitedly greeted me and I sat outside in front of the fountain talking with Christopher for a few minutes before falling asleep for a half hour nap. 

Angel had ridden her bicycle over to my mother-in-loves to chat with her, which was a new thing she had started doing. When she came home, I had her clean her room. It was getting pretty messy and I wanted her to get it clean before it got any worse. I trimmed a bunch of tress and bushes around the fountain and the banana hut. Then I reorganized the fairy garden in front of the banana hut. 

Angel finished cleaning her room and asked to go to swim tank and I agreed. We spend a couple hours playing in the water at swim tank. Christopher let his dog Jake go with us this time and Jake was thrilled to be able to go with the other dogs. He swam and swam and swam. I swam a lot too, then stretched and wiggled my body all different ways in the water to get it nice and loosened up. It was very therapeutic rolling all around and playing like a kid. 

When we arrived back home, Christopher was barbecuing for dinner. I watched the animals and talked with Christopher while waiting for the food to cook. When it was ready I had a corn on the cob, a portobello mushroom with fresh made guacamole on top and a pepper stuffed with tomatoes. It was all really good but felt really heavy on my stomach. We all shared our gratitudes around the table while we ate. Mine were:

  • I am grateful for kayaking adventures. 
  • I am grateful for my healthy family. 
  • I am grateful for swim tank. 

When dinner was over, Angel and I took some food over to my mother-in-loves. I chatted with her a few minutes and Angel stayed after I left to talk with her longer. 

When I arrived home, I hung up laundry that was still in the washing machine and brought in the dry laundry off the line and put it away. I did dishes and made tea and went in the banana hut. Angel came home and joined me in the banana hut along with Christopher. I read from Bill Peet an Autobiography. Then Angel and Christopher went in the house to sleep. I wrote my blog and fell asleep at around 8:30 pm. 

Thank you for reading my blog and being a part of my life. I appreciate you. 



P.S. this blog post is inspired by the Holy Spirit. 

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