Friday, March 15, 2013

Potato & White Slough

Yesterday I was privileged to paddle with Kathi Morrison and explore Potato and White Slough just south of Tower Park.  We timed the flows just right and launched about 11:30 heading south with the gentle current. Low tide was predicted at 3:08 at Terminous, the South Fork of the Mokelumne River and the weather was warm, upper 70's, with high clouds blanketing the sky. 

Tower Park is a wonderful place to launch your kayak. There is a general store, Rosa's restaurant, a KOA campground and an ice cream shop, Sunset Sweets which also rents kayaks and stand up paddle boards.  There are also sparkling restrooms available. I spoke with the marina and there is no charge to launch your kayak but please remember ramp etiquette and don't tie up the ramp. Get your gear together in another area near the launch and when your ready to get in the water, proceed to the ramp. I imagine this can be an extremely busy launch and we want to keep a good relationship with marinas that allow us access. 

From Tower Park you can head north up the South Fork of the Mokelumne towards Syacamore Slough, northeast towards the North Fork of the Mokelumne or south into Potato Slough. We chose to head south and explore Potato slough and then venture into White Slough until we reached Honker Cut which is a little over 5 miles. The NOAA chart for this area is 18661 and I would recommend downloading the booklet chart or bring a gps so you don't get lost as there are a few different areas you can explore. Also consult the tides and weather forecast before you launch. In Potato Slough the water flows south on an outgoing tide.

Shortly after launching we passed Strawberry Landing and came across Devils Isle, which appears to be a members only island. It's at this point we headed southeast into White Slough. If you head southwest you'll enter Little Potato Slough. We meandered through many marshy islands at a leisurely pace keeping our eyes open for a beach where we could eat lunch. There are plenty of places to land if you don't mind mud. We weren't interested in a mud bath so we continued south to Honkers Cut. On our journey we spotted lots of turtles, Night Heron, Egrets, White Pelicans, hawks and what I believed to be a muskrat.

Old ferry crossing?
We never did find a nice sandy beach to land on but we discovered what appeared to be an old ferry crossing. It was a precarious landing but we succeeded and ate our lunch on the cement ramp. After lunch we successfully reentered our kayaks and headed back to Tower Park. We were escorted by a beaver for a short while who seemed to be leading us away from his home. After a splash of his thick tail he disappeared and then reappeared briefly, making sure we were leaving.

Overall, it was a wonderful paddle with great company! I look forward to returning and exploring the area further.

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