A hearty group of 6 HPGC club members and 2 guests joined Steve Appleton of the LA River Kayak Safari to paddle 1.75 miles of the LA River in the Frogtown area of Elysian Valley late Tuesday afternoon under cloudy skies. The lack of sun didn't dampen the group's energy and adventure however - with participants stunned by the beauty of the fast-paced river and the thrill of maneuvering six sets of bubbling rapids.
The kayak tour was a Class II adventure that began with a bike ride up the river bikepath, some ground instruction on paddling techniques, "putting in" from a silt-formed island in the river and paddling for 2 hours downstream. Appleton shared some of the history of the river with the kayakers, and noted that the Frogtown area of the river was never fully cemented like most of the LA River, due to the natural occurrence of underground springs, and the location of the giant railroad yard called the G2 parcel alongside.
Sitting atop open kayaks the paddlers got wet but never capsized, and had some close views of birds that live in this urban riparian habitat including black-crowned night heron, great blue heron, osprey, ducks and egrets. Read more about LA River's wildlife here.
Invasive and native plant species were also observed, as was a bit of trash here and there. But the relatively cleanliness of the environment and the clarity of water (which tried to hide many big boulders the kayakers were trying to avoid!) proved to surprise and delight everyone in the kayak trip. "What a surprise adventure that was!", noted one wet and soppy paddler after she helped haul the kayaks back up the concrete embankment. Ahead was a streaming set of car lights on the 5 freeway and Riverside Drive - putting everyone back in the reality of Los Angeles.
Many thanks to Conservation chairs Nancy Ziehl and Holly Holyck for arranging this great experience. To get further involved and more information on the LA River see Friends of the LA River.