Like most coastal rivers, the Navarro changes character with the seasons, In the winter, when the rains keep pouring down, it can turn big brown and muddy, sweeping huge trees down and overflowing its banks, flooding hwy 128 and piling timber up against the hwy 1 bridge and on the beach. That's the time when idiot kayakers and rafters (like myself, once upon a time) like to blast down the feeder creeks and get swept down (hopefully) to some haul-out.
Then as the river recedes and clears, the steelhead fishers and canoes come out, hoping to catch one of the sadly diminished run of great steelhead or enjoy one of the great sweet downstream canoe runs in coastal CA from Hendy Woods SP to Paul Dimmick county park. Unbelievably beautiful and serene.
Then as the flow drops (more quickly & farther because of all the wells & pumps from new vineyards & homes--dang them!) the water warms and so many of the little steelhead cook and never make it back to sea. Green slime blooms. A sandbar forms across the mouth and the water backs up about 4 miles, making a beautiful lake that is a canoe or kayaker's dream--launch at the beach or along hwy 128 near the bridge. Throughout much of the summer there are numbers of good swimming holes that persist much of the summer--under and below the the Greenwood Road bridge near Hendy Woods, at Paul Dimmick and Iron Bridge Hole.
My favorite time is when the first really good rains create enough runoff to open up the mouth of the river and it becomes a living thing once again. If you are lucky, you can watch schools of steelhead swim & flop their way over the sandbar into the river on their spawning run. Right behind them are the sea lions, hoping to trap them in the tidewater. It's best to witness this during a pouring rain, when you can get soaking wet and cold. Then dry off by a fire and sip some brandy and think about what you've seen. Kind of connects you with the fish and the river and pretty much everything in a way, doesn't it?
(By the way, locals call the river Nuh vare (like in fare) oh--not Nuh var (like in far) oh.)
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