Kayaking the Albion River -- (Check Out the Floating Cabins!)
I thought I'd share a mini travelogue about my trip up the Albion River yesterday.
The Albion River flows into the Pacific Ocean just south of Mendocino, California. The Albion is great for kayaking for a few reasons:
- It is very flat for a couple miles from the river mouth, making it an easy river for even novice paddlers.
- The river is tidal, raising its level by 2-3 feet twice per day with the tide. If you time your trip right, you can paddle upriver with the high tide, and back out as the tide retreats. You travel with the current each direction!
- The Albion River is beautifully scenic running through tree-covered canyons. If you are quiet and watching carefully, you can often see wildlife. Also, there are old rustic cabins built floating - yes, floating! - in the middle of the river. There are interesting new sights around every bend.
All of these pictures were taken by me on my kayak trek upriver as well as on a later hike along a river trail.
At the mouth of the river
The opening picture of this post is the Albion Bridge, where CA Highway 1 crosses over the Albion River. The bridge is actually the only remaining wooden truss bridge left on Highway 1, which travels the majority of California's scenic coast. The residents of the town of Albion have petitioned to have it listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The ocean coastline on the other side of the bridge is stunning too:
A view of the river from the hillside, looking out towards the Pacific Ocean:
And another image looking upriver. Look at how flat and calm the water is!
As I began my trek up the river, the first thing I noticed were all the birds - squawking seagulls, crows soaring on the canyon updrafts overhead, cormorants diving and splashing in the river, and herons wading at the water's edge. The river was full of life!
A little further up the river, a doe and her fawn grazed placidly near the treeline.
As I made my way upstream, I saw up ahead something very out of place - a house in the middle of the river! Not sure if anyone was home, I paddled cautiously right up to the side.
It may look from the pictures like the house is on a peninsula in the river, but it was completely surrounded by water! I quietly peered at all the unusual items that decorated the front porch - potted plants (and potted "plants" <ahem!> - we are in Northern California, after all!), weathered wooden benches, miscellaneous boating equipment, and a ready-to-go fishing pole. What a life, living right in the river!
A little further on, there was what looked like a rustic cabin at the waters' edge:
But upon rounding the corner, I could see that it was yet another floating house! This one a bit older - I'm not sure if anyone was actively living there.
A close up view of the front door:
Back in the 1850s, the Albion River was a part of a vast logging network. Trees were logged upstream and a railroad was built along the side of the river, transporting the logs to a sawmill at the river mouth. Ships would port there, collect the lumber, taking it south to San Francisco.
All along the Albion river you can see remnants of this logging empire - wooden pylons along the edge of the river; a burm embankment that cuts off part of the river into a giant lake, perfect for storing logs to be shipped; these old cabins pictured. I could just imagine what bustling activity this river must have had 150 years ago.
But now, it is quiet and peaceful. A perfect trip for a sunny summer day. After making my way to this second cabin, I turned around with the tide and headed back downstream. Another day, I would like to go even further!
Turning around - and back home again!