The Russian River Mouth is Closed and Otters Too

Monday September 30, 2013 Jenner CA.

Let’s start with what’s going on with the lower Russian River dams coming out

It was raining lightly as I got it going this morning, but not too hard, so I grabbed my rain gear that was drying from yesterday and headed on out around eleven this morning. I stopped at Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville to see how the dam guys were doing dropping the dam. They already had the Vacation beach dam down a couple days ago and they had been taking boards out slowly on this one for the last couple of days too as to drop the river slowly.

There was a light rain as I pulled in at Johnson’s beach and the guys were hard at it. Lifting boards out of the dam and putting them in a truck for transport for winter storage. Looks like they still have a ways to go to get it down. This was just before noon, so I’m sure they have a lot more of it down by now. They have to have at least one section all the way down before October 1, so as to not be impounding any water by that date. dam


I left them at it and headed on down to Jenner in a light rain. As I approached Jenner, it was a bit on the foggy side too. I went on down to the river’s mouth overlook on highway one to see how the river’s mouth was doing?

Looking though the fog, the Russian River’s mouth is closed with sand and the ocean is real rough, washing over the jetty and into the river when a wave is large enough.

When the ocean is rough like this, it can pile up sand big time in the river’s mouth closing it even more. As each wave washes over the sandy beach it moves sand with it as it goes.mouthclosed


Let’s get the boat on the water

I put my boat in as the light rain was starting to slow down some and headed towards the river’s mouth.

There were some seals and birds beached on the right side of the closed river mouth in the picture below. Not much wind at all, mostly calm, with some fog, but it cleared for awhile while I was down there and the rain stopped.sealsandbirds


This was my view from my boat as I approached the closed Russian River’s mouth. A real rough Pacific ocean with waves washing over the jetty and into the river as the sun came out for awhile.rivermouth


This picture is where the river was going out, before it closed with sand. Lots of big waves pounding and throwing water around today, but the wind was down, did I mention that? :O)mouthclosed2


I pulled the bow of my boat up to the sand that was damming the river’s mouth and took this one last shot of the rough ocean breaking over the rocks.



In the below picture, I’m trying to show how high the sand dam is , but it’s hard to tell, even from my boat. I’d guess three or four feet high above the river water. I don’t think the rest of the water from letting the dams out will be enough to open the mouth up.closedriver


The mouth might get opened by high tides though, as sometimes the high tide waves wash over the sand moving it into the river, which knocks the dam down and then the river water can start to flow out and start the opening process, which progresses at a faster pace once the ocean goes to a low tide state, as that lowers the ocean water enough below the higher river water to let the sand flow out faster, which can really open it up wide.

I stayed around the mouth area for a couple hours watching things and just taking it easy. The fog started to blow back in and the wind was up,  so I let it take me up the backside of Penny Island to the east end where I pulled in out of the wind in the little channel there and took a sorta nap. When I opened my eyes again, the wind was down and the fog was gone too, so I continued on up the river a bit to otter’s log and sat around there enjoying the calm and a real nice day.

I must of sat there for an hour or so, it was so nice, then started on back as the fog started to come back in a little.

Otters crossing the river

As I was just starting to cross over to the east end of Penny Island something in the water caught my eyes. Otters?

Yes it was a bunch of them. Here’s what a couple of them looked like as I spied them, most of the other ones are now under the water swimming along.otters


I tried to stay back as not to spook them, but they were traveling under the brush along the shoreline which isn’t good for any pictures, so I moved ahead of them to were the trees stopped for a bit and waited for them to appear. Shortly, one popped up on the bank.otter


And then a bunch more popped up on that bank. It looked like they were marking the trail there, they do that a lot as they hunt up and down the river.



They were all checking me out in this picture, I wasn’t moving, just sitting in my boat with the camera up.otters4


Shortly after that they scooted back into the water and I followed them up river a bit more, but the next time I tried to get ahead of them for pictures, I let them get out of sight and they disappeared on me for the day. I searched around for awhile but didn’t find them again.

From that spot, I headed to the little channel on the east end of Penny Island just day dreaming, as the fog had left again and it was nice and calm. A big bird flew by with a  couple little birds chasing it. I think it was a young bald headed eagle as many of the smaller birds chase them as the smaller birds can out fly them, but I wasn’t able to get any good pics of that.

Eventually, I found myself drifting down the north side of Penny island where I saw a little bird dive into a hole in the bank as I approached. I was waiting for it to come out when I spied this spider in it’s web on a bush.spider


That bird finally came out and I wasn’t ready for it, so no pic, but it was an interesting bird.

Shorty after that, the fog came back again, so I crossed the river to the boat launch area around four thirty.

This gage, on the side of the visitor’s center shows the water level of the estuary. It’s gone up about eight inches since yesterday from the water coming down the river, likely not enough to open the river’s mouth.



Although the day started out with light rain, it stopped and the fog came in and out a couple of times and mostly the river was flat and calm for a real nice day kayaking Jenner.

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