Paddling Into The Dark

Late in August Donna and I took part in a tour that is only offered once a month, unless that month is one with a Blue Moon. The trip was a Full Moon Tour on Elkhorn Slough State Wildlife Area, off Monterey Bay at Moss Landing, Ca., only about 20 miles north of Monterey.

The night we were there, sundown was at 7:37, moonrise was 7:38 and we launched about 7:30 as we saw the sun setting in the west. Brian was the trip leader for Monterey Bay Kayaks, a group I’ve paddled with before. If you’re ever in Monterey, Pacific Grove, or anywhere nearby and looking for a place to rent a kayak, or join a tour this is the place I’d recommend. Monterey Bay Kayaks has two locations, one at Moss landing, the other near the north end of the town of Monterey.

Back to our Full Moon Tour. outfitted us with Paddling Jackets, Paddling Jackets, PFDs, Spray Skirts and lights. Then a quick overview of paddling – we did have a couple novice paddlers on this tour. normally they supply doubles, but on request singles are available.

After launching our first stop was about a quarter-mile upstream near some Sea Otters, keeping the required 150′ separation from the wildlife we rafted up to see the animals play, and to collect our group for the first time, and one of the last times that we had light During this first 1/4-mile curious Harbor Seals swam nearby to see what were. The next target was the CA-1 bridge over he Slough. During the rising of the Full Moon the tide is rising also and the current is swift into the Slough. But once into the main body of the Slough the water was almost glassy smooth, a very pleasant paddle

As the night deepened we paddled another mile or so, up to Elkhorn (on the map), into areas with Brown Pelicans, and other various wildlife of the marsh. I’d say the quiet of nature at night is quite loud. As the full-moon rise higher we could make out the banks of the marsh, and only see the brightest stars. Brian was able to name the calls of most birds and other wildlife for us, but in the dark we couldn’t see other than the silhouettes of the birds on the water.

I’d say that flood tide was well established as we returned under the bridge on our way our, and we needed our strongest paddling to make much headway. once out from under the bridge we passed a pier that a Whale Watching outfit built, as the story goes, nature didn’t agree with that use. Sea Lions took over the pier so it is now thought of as a million dollar Sea Lion Condo.

MBK also has trips up the Slough during the day, I would have liked to go one of these too, but time and budget didn’t coöperate.

I really wanted to get some pictures of this trip, but I didn’t want to take the camera near the water, and it was way too dark to get any decent exposure.


About Mike

I'm an avid bicyclist, that also enjoys Kayaking, Nature Photography, Cross Country Skiing and Geocaching. There's nothing more boring than sitting indoors in "good" weather.
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