Mellow Mendo Weekend


Author: Buck Johnson

"Mellow Mendo" well describes the trip that Andy instigated for the weekend.

Arriving at the campground we were surprised to find out that quite a few WSKers played hooky on Friday, tents were set up, a paddle had already been undertaken, and Steve was searching for lost or buried treasure. As the shadows grew, folks sauntered into town to sample the local eateries, walked to the sea plateau to take in the sites of the ocean and the lovely town of Mendocino, hunkered down around a fire or crawled into a cozy sleeping bag for a much-needed nap.

On Saturday morning, Richard began making avocado-topped omelets for anyone lucky enough to stop by his campsite. Andy called a meeting together at 0900 to discuss the paddling possibilities for the day. At least two groups diverged from the masses, one went to the Albion River and one went to Russian Gulch. Bruce, lone voice in the wilderness, was extolling the virtues of the Big River, but I'm not sure he got any takers.

The swell, at less than 4', was smaller on this trip than any other time I'd paddled the Mendo coastline, creating quite a different paddling environment. In the past, the play areas created by the large rock formations that line the coast just off shore were an adrenaline junkie's dream; waves surge up and over partially submerged reefs creating pour-overs with roller coaster-like drops while the slots and caverns are a tempest of sloshing seawater. However, on this trip the caves and tunnels, created over time when the large storm swells of winter excavate the softer sediments of the cliffs, were available to us to probe at will.

The best part of the paddle was that Russ can now add whales to his kayaking life list!

The pot-luck was splendiforous; not only were there wonderful taste treats prepared by everyone, but the fact that all the dishes were ready at about the same time boggles the mind. My recollection of all the dishes is sketchy at best, but having a sweet tooth (or two or three), the dish that my mouth recalls the clearest is Phil's tart. Big Yum! My arteries are hardening just thinking about it.

The paddle on the second day is actually my fondest memory of the trip (with the exception of Andy being stranded on the rock--but since I also got stuck on a rock we won't delve too deeply into that). 23 paddlers of all skill levels worked their way up the coast after pushing off the beach at Van Damme Park. We had a favorable ratio of experienced paddlers to lesser experienced paddlers, which allowed us to let folks spread their wings and venture into rougher water and environments in a safe way. Ralph even had another Greenland paddler to play with. The only minor incident of the day was when John fell off of his SOT in front of a pour-over. His water bottle made it over, however. To his credit, John hopped back onto the SOT and took the next wave over the pour-over.

After landing back at Van Damme, Vicki asked an unsuspecting man, who was walking down the beach with his small son, to take a picture of our group (less Ralph, Tony and Joe who were practicing those strange Greenland rolls). It took quite a while to get the group reorganized into some semblance of order for the photo. He was quite happy to return the camera and be on his way. He did take a nice photo, though.

Jumbo and Trevlyn led an impromptu picnic on the beach (so they could unload all their leftovers), which really hit the spot. After that it was the long drive home. Along the way, I couldn't help but reminisce about the weekend and how enjoyable it was to have had the opportunity to paddle that beautiful stretch of coastline with an enjoyable group of people.

Thanks, Andy for instigating the trip and thanks to my fellow WSKers for a memorable weekend.