After an exhausting time surf launch practicing at Salmon Creek Beach, Frank, Corinna, and I drove down to Miller Park on Tomales Bay for an afternoon paddle. I put Corinna's Scupper Pro next to mine on top of my bus and we car-pooled together. Frank drove down by himself since he had to return to San Francisco this evening. We did stop in Bodega so I could buy a deli sandwich and replenish my reserve energy. A few weeks ago Bill Steigert had suggested a place to go on a windy winter day. Just north of Miller Park on Tomales Bay is a wide slow creek that meanders along next to Highway One away from the bay. Bill said that this creek is angled so that it is usually out of the wind. Even on days when other nearby creeks, like the Estero Americana, are very windy. We decided to try this creek out.
When we got to Miller Park there was a strong wind coming out of the north. Since we only had to travel a half a kilometer into it we bravely started out anyway. By hugging the shore we made good progress and easily came to the creek. KeysCreek has a wide delta in front of it with shallow water and we had trouble finding a deeper channel. Right up against the shore I was able to find deep enough water to paddle up a narrow channel with marsh grass on either side. This channel was not as large as I recalled noticing from the roadside, so I wondered if it was going to widen out and get shallower. In the mean time we were in warm sunny conditions out of the wind and had a great time watching the grebes and buffleheads in the water and the sandpipers standing close by in the shallow marsh.
But after only a kilometer of paddling, our channel petered out and ended in the middle of the marsh! We had actually found a minor side channel and not the main channel at all. By this time the shallow water on both sides of our channel had risen up into a reasonably solid shoreline. Standing on this I could see the main channel a hundred meters away so I started dragging my boat across the marsh. Everyone else followed and we were soon in a much wider and deeper channel of water.
We continued heading upstream and the troops started grumbling about how late it was getting. I have seen a small picnic area on the side of the road while driving and suggested that it might be around the next bend, but I could not be sure how far away it really was. Bill Steigert has suggested that you can paddle all the way up to the spillway from the Nacasio Reservoir from here. But before we could get very far a very strange thing happened. It started raining heavily and a VERY STRONG WIND came up the valley. The wind blew across the creek and pushed us up against the north bank. Frank and I were able to paddle against it but Corinna was turned and pushed into shallow water where she could not paddle effectively. We decided to turn around and head back, although Corinna said she was going to get out and hitch-hike back down Highway One to the cars. But as suddenly as this squall came up it went away and we had mild wind-free conditions again. Once turned around, however, we kept paddling back.
I tried to talk the other two into cutting across the bay to Hog Island but nobody else took me seriously. It really would not have added much to our trip but the other two were eager to get back before it got any later. Instead we went straight back to our cars and used the time to stop at Nick's Cove for some oysters, Clam Chowder, and ethanol-based- beverages.