Of course this is California and our Constitution guarantees us the right to navigate any body of water. It occurred to me that if a kayaker of sufficient skill could do a surf landing at the mouth of the Estero, paddle up the creek and back down again, then launch into the surf to return home. The ranchers can deny me permission to cross their land to get to the water, but if I arrive by sea they cannot keep me away! Nearby Dillon beach is less than a mile from the mouth of Estero De San Antonio and was the obvious place to start and end the trip. I tried to arrange this trip several times with BASK and was frustrated by large swell at sea keeping us away.
Finally a calm weekend approached and I mentioned the trip again on the BASK email listserver. Several people started showing an interest. Michael Smith in particular was intrigued by the idea of camping overnight at the mouth of one of the esteros. I was unable to commit to this because I had a prior engagement on Saturday evening. So John planned a camping trip and I planned to come along on the first day only.
We met on an overcast and windy morning at Dillon Beach. This beach has a private parking lot and the campers were able to make arrangements to park overnight. (I think it went something like, "If I pay you double, can I leave my car here and pick it up tomorrow"?) We launched into mild waves that broke in our faces going over the offshore sandbar and got us wet as we started off. As usual, most of the BASK paddlers (there were seven of us) turned and went far from shore to avoid the rocks I wanted to explore and go behind. So we spread out and soon collected back together a short mile away at the mouth of the Estero de San Antonio. Most of us made it to shore with no problems but one kayaker got broached by a wave in shallow water and had to exit from his boat.
After a short stop for lunch we started up the Estero. I was pushing my schedule because I only had time to paddle up the creek for an hour and then I had to turn back. The tide was going in so we expected a pretty easy ride in and then I expected to have to work hard to get back out. With the sky overcast and a wind blowing up the Estero (something else I had to look forward to) we didn't see much in the way of wildlife. We did see a few interesting birds, like a great blue heron and some egrets. I for one kept my eyes pealed for the ranchers, worrying that they might hassle us about how we got onto "their creek". A few weeks later this actually did happen to some BASK kayakers who launched far upstream and came down through the ranchland.
My goal was to get as far upstream as the bridge where the Valley Ford / Dillon Beach road crosses over the Estero. This I managed to do but when I looked at my watch it had taken us an hour and a half to get there! I was going to be late! So I bid farewell to my friends and took off down the estero as fast as I could . I worked on my forward stroke and made excellent time, getting back to the ocean in less time than the trip up, despite the wind and tide being against me most of the way.
Michael and the rest of the campers continued upstream for a while and took their time going back down to the mouth of the Estero. They had considered launching again and landing at the mouth of the Estero de Americano. However the daunting thought of making more surf launches and landings convinced them to just stay in the Estero de San Antonio for the night. Michael wrote up his impressions of the trip and generously gave me permission to include them in my journal as the next entry.