This is the second in a series of stories by Eco Adventurer Meade Fischer, author of Cosmic Coastal Chronicles, about Kayaking around the California Central Coast.
Still Life With Birds
Kayaking Elkhorn Slough By Meade Fischer
Sometimes in the early morning, Elkhorn Slough is like a sheet of glass, marred only by the rhythmic splashes of a paddle and the sudden flapping of a startled bird. Located at the center of Monterey Bay, the place where the land exhales into the deep submarine canyon, Elkhorn is big enough for a day's paddle. It's about a five mile paddle from the launch ramp at Moss Landing to the launch ramp at Kirby Park, plus three miles more to the end of the slough. There is also a dock on a side channel, at about the mid point where you can pull off for a secluded lunch. While the afternoon winds of spring can turn the surface of the slough into a washboard, the mornings are almost always calm and silent.
You seem to glide almost effortlessly past the basking colony of seals, past one of the largest concentrations of sea otters in the area, and past an incredible array of various birds.
White egrets and occasional blue herons stand knee deep in the shallows, while waves of shore birds circle and alight on the mud flats. Every coastal feathered creature that wades, swims, or probes the banks can be found here. Even if you are not a bird watcher, the sheer number and beauty of these creatures can jolt you into a reverie
Even though human activity circles Elkhorn Slough, the feeling from the water is one of being out in the wilds, along some primordial waterway in a land yet to be domesticated.
Elkhorn responds to your personal pace of life. You can have your aerobic workout and make the ten mile round trip in three hours, you can wander along for a good part of the day, or you can stop and doze in the sun, surrounded by avian music.
There are two kayak stores at Moss Landing, and they both rent boats for about $25 for a full day. Launching fees at Moss are about a buck, and it's free to launch at Kirby. I've always found the parking lots to be safe, even if you are out for a night paddle under a full moon (an experience everyone should have at least once).
Any day is a good day to kayak Elkhorn Slough, but the most rewarding day is that Saturday in late summer when local conservation organizations host the annual Elkhorn Slough clean up. I've personally taken a lot of pride in the trash I've hauled out each year. See relevant PelicanNetwork pages: Elkhorn Slough Moss Landing Gateway to Monterey Bay
Artichokes Best of California's Central Coast -
Approved to benefit Pelican Affinity Partners, the community-based non profits who help the arts and environment.
Beautifully told history of the Monterey Bay natives by Lois Robin - a CD
The Butterfly Center at Santa Cruz Park Friends. Books from the online Park Store. See the Monarch Miracle in the Natural Bridges Sanctuary.
Or, at the Monarch Sanctuary in Pacific Grove