Overnight paddle to Kirby Cove, October 16th 2008.

The National Parks use a different campsite registration system than the State Park people. The State Park system is terrible, forcing everyone to compete with each other for campsites at 8:00 AM on the first day of the month a half a year in advance. Every camper in the world who wants a campsite for any time in the next available 30 day period calls in at that moment to tie up the lines and crash the Internet reservation system. The National Park uses a more sane “rolling” system in which you are only competing against other people who want the same day as you, not any day in a 30 month period.

But still it doesn’t work well. If you call in at 8:00 AM six months in advance to reserve popular campsites like Kirby Cove, you find that someone has always beaten you to it. How does this happen? Dishonest people who want a Saturday night in Kirby Cove call in six months PLUS ONE DAY IN ADVANCE, reserve a campsite for Friday night for two days. So the honest people always find that the campsites they want are reserved by others abusing the system and sneaking in a day early. Or the honest people break down and abuse the system like everyone else.

John Boeschen announced that the Thurseve paddle this week would be an overnight at Kirby Cove. I wondered how he managed to get this popular campsite? It turned out the site was reserved by Casey Walker, who invited us to join him. Later I learned that Casey had several campsites reserved through the weekend for a campout with his daughter and a bunch of her friends. All the pieces of the puzzle clicked together! Casey is a grand master at working the park reservation systems. He needed several campsites and had to reserve them two days in advance in order to break in through the system. Apparently everyone knows about the one-day-in-advance trick and now two are necessary. Casey invited us to join him to help hold down the campsites and make it look like he really needed them two days in advance.

We were a diverse group arriving by various means. John launched from Danny’s Secret Launch and paddled solo past Angel Island to peek at the fire damage there. On the way he picked up SF Dave on the way and they paddled under the Golden Gate Bridge to Kirby Cove. Don Fleming met me late in the day at Horseshoe Cove and we paddled the short distance to the campground. Casey and John Somers drove in, Danny Forer rode his bicycle into camp to join us. With tent platforms, fire rings and picnic tables to work on we worked up a huge feast for the pot luck dinner. I cooked a Thai green bean coconut green curry for my contribution. There was a tremendous amount of ethanol-based-beverage, including several bottles of Johny Walker and it all disappeared in the course of the evening. Fortunately for me I’m not fond of whisky so I didn’t get as wasted as some people did.

I had to get up early in the morning to go to work but slept through my alarm. I got up an hour later and seemed to be the only person in our camp who wasn’t too hung over to pack up and paddle home. I thanked John for a great party and kidded him about how it was too bad he couldn’t remember any of it. Fortunately he found a bunch of pictures in his camera, including ones of him passed out on the picnic table. From this record he was able to re-construct enough of the evening to create his usual comic version of the event.

All text and images Copyright © 2008 by Mike Higgins / contact