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Dear Parents and Campers. 

I am pleased to welcome you to an amazing kayak wilderness camp on the pristine shores of Loon Lake, on the western edge of Desolation Wilderness.  The breath-taking terrain that surrounds our sea kayaking destination is rich in natural diversity with a colorful history of early settlement.

Our camping adventure will begin on the shores of Loon Lake at 12:30pm on August 5th and ends on August 9th at 2:30pm.  Our first meal will be dinner so please pack a bag lunch or stop along the way.

Camp Fees

The cost for our wilderness kayaking adventure is $600 per person (This price includes kayaks, camping fees, permits, kayak instruction, naturalist guides, meals and tents). Personal camping equipment such as  sleeping bags and pads are to be provided by participants.


To register for this program please send a deposit of $150 to: BWV, 127 Mason Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Space is limited and only guaranteed with a deposit. The balance of $450 is due by May 25th.

Please Note: A full refund of your deposit is given if cancellations are made before May 25th.   After May 25th, no refunds are given but you may find a replacement for your child's place on the roster.




From the Santa Cruz area, take Highway 17 N (merges into I-880 N) and merge onto Mission Blvd/Ca 262 E towards I-680/Sacramento (680 can also be accessed by taking 280 S).  Continue towards Sacramento and merge onto US-50 E via the left exit: Sacramento/South Lake Tahoe.  Continue on US-50 E through Placerville and Pollock Pines.  Ice House Road, which leads to Loon Lake, is 22 miles east of Placerville and 8.5 miles east of  Pollock Pines.  Crystal Basin/Ice House Rd. is a left exit just after the road crosses the South Fork of the American River.

You will now start climbing in elevation to reach Loon Lake, which is about 28 miles from Highway 50. In  24 miles, look for a small brown sign on the right side of the road that reads: Loon Lake 4 miles. This sign is shortly past  Wentworth Springs Rd.

At the brown sign take a right towards Loon Lake, approximately 4 more miles.  When you reach the next sign for Loon Lake bear left  and follow the  road around the lake passing over two spillways.  If you do not bear left, you will  enter into the Main Loon Lake Campground and boat launch. Turn around and exit right  around the lake.

Plan on about an hour from the intersection of US-50 and Ice House Road and approximately  5 hours from Santa Cruz to Loon Lake ( if the traffic is reasonable).

Arrival to Loon Lake

We plan on  meeting campers and parents at the end of the second spillway (dam) where we will launch our kayaks. A map of the area will be provided at the pre trip meeting or sent to you.

Hotels in Area

If you choose to stay at a hotel either before or after the trip,  the West Haven Hotel is located  in Pollock Pines, approximately 1 hour 15 minutes from Loon Lake (their number is:1-800-424-9928). Slightly further away in Placerville is a National 9 Inn, (530) 622-3884.   For information on hotels in Placerville  please visit:   Hotel ideas.

Camping Options (before or after trip)

Camping is possible at Loon Lake or at nearby Union Valley Reservoir. Reservations can be made by calling:1-877-444-6777. There are  primitive camping sites around the lake just before the second spillway closer to our put-in. Reservations are not required.  The North Shore  RV Campsite is also an option and is available on a first come basis (see enclosed map). For more details on camping options call the Eldorado  Information  Center at:  530-644-6048.

Your Guides: Kim Powell, owner of Blue Water Ventures will be leading this program. Kim has been organizing and leading wilderness expeditions for students since 1985. She is a certified sea kayaking instructor through the American Canoe Association and Wilderness First Responder. Kim will be co-leading this trip with another competent  wilderness guide and our interns. As always, thorough  instruction in kayaking,  safety and low impact camping  will be provided before each activity.

Parent Meeting: TBA

In previous years, parents have gathered to design a plan  for getting campers back and forth from Loon Lake.  We would like to have a parent meeting on TBA.  If you can make this meeting   we will  discuss gear, food,  packing questions and car pooling options.

The main objective of the pre trip  meeting is to have parents develop a strategy for getting kids back and forth from summer camp. The list of  campers and contact information will be provided at the parent meeting or emailed to you.

The meeting will be held at my home on  Mason Street  on the West Side of Santa Cruz.  Heading north on Mission Street/HWY One, take a left on Bay Street. Mason Street is a few blocks down on the right. 

You can  find parking in the street. 

I am looking forward to our adventure in Loon Lake!

Very Sincerely.

Kim Powell, MRPA

Owner, Operator & Naturalist

Blue Water Ventures



phone: (831) 459-8548

127 Mason Street,

Santa Cruz, CA





___  1 Sleeping bag- non cotton style; if renting, ask for one that is compact and med-heavy rated

___  1 Ensolite sleeping pad or thermarest (closed cell only; no foam/sponge that absorbs water)

___  2 or 3 small duffels  lined with a garbage bag or small dry bags for personal gear

___  1 Fanny pack or small compact daypack—no need for large daypacks!

___  1 Bathing suit

___  2- 3 T-Shirts  

___  2 Pairs of  shorts (quick dry and lightweight )

___  2  Pair of  long pants ( 1 pair of fleece is preferred;  sweat pants or convertible

           style pants are acceptable for second pair)

___  Rain  gear -jacket  with rain pants or poncho with rain pants  (durable, no flimsy plastic)

___  1 Fleece, capilene or wool sweater – medium rated

___  1 pair of long underwear (top and bottom- fleece, silk or capilene)

___  1 warm hat  (i.e. fleece ski cap )

___  1 Pair of sturdy tennis  shoes or lightweight hiking boot

___  1 Pair of  wet suit booties, sandals  with a heel strap for support or tennis shoes -- any style is fine but  they will get wet. Crocs are not allowed at camp as they                    offer little support on rocks

 ___ 2 Pairs of  socks --at least one  wool or wool/silk  blend style

___  1 Bath towel or a sarong can be used as a towel—lightweight and packs up easily

___  1 or 2  Bandanas – a versatile item to have around camp

___  1 Ball cap or lightweight hat to shade face & ears

___  Underwear

___  Toiletries (toothbrush, paste, lotions -small amounts in small plastic bottles)

___  Sunscreen ( 20 strength or higher )  & chapstick with sunscreen

___  Good body lotion for replenishing dry skin

___  Sunglasses with leash (UV protection)

___  Bug Repellent-small amount, we like Lemon Eucalyptus by Repel

___  2 water bottles--full

___  1 Gallon size container of water (i.e. recycled plastic milk jug or purified water jug)

___  2-3 garbage bags i.e. Steel Sacs  or white compressor bags- for organizing gear

___  2-3 ziplocs –for organizing and packing gear

___  Small flashlight or head lamp with extra batteries

___  Small journal and pen/pencil or colored pencils

___  2 carabiners (med. size simple design inexpensive but useful )— to attach items to boat


__    Camera -disposable waterproof work well                  ___  Folded flat  camp chair- i.e. Crazy Creek

___  Binoculars and camera stored   in dry bag                               must be compact; no metal frames

___  Dry bags                                                                      ___  Compact fishing gear

___  Mask and snorkel                                                       ___   1 Sarong


___  Rash Guard- for added warmth in water or sun protection  




PACKING SUGGESTIONS: Please pack only what is suggested on the What to Bring List. As with backpacking, kayak camping requires that we pack with limited  space in mind. Several small duffels  for personal gear are better than large ones.  Everything must be waterproofed by lining the inside of a duffel bag with a garbage bag. Heavy duty style garbage bags are recommended. The white compressor bags found at Costco work extremely well. There is no need to buy expenses dry bags. In fact, clothing can be double bagged in 2 garbage bags if duffels/dry bags are not available.  

DUFFELS OR DRY BAGS: If using duffels, 2 or 3 small duffels lined on the inside with a garbage bag for personal gear are acceptable. Outdoor World carries a variety of inexpensive  duffels. You may pack your personal gear into  3 small duffels (9" by 18'" ) or 1 small duffel and 1 medium duffel (12" by 24").  Dry bags with similar dimensions may also be used.  T-shirts and other clothing rolled tightly and fitted into gallon size ziplocs are a good way to organize and compress gear. Sleeping bags and sleeping pads should be rolled up separately in their own stuff sacs (not in your clothes duffel).

SLEEPING BAG: A medium - heavy rated bag is needed. Night temperatures could be in the low 40's or even cooler. Down, fiberfill or another type of synthetic insulation is acceptable. Bulky  cotton covered bags are too big to fit into kayaks and are not acceptable. Compress your bag into a stuff sack lined on the inside with a durable garbage bag.

FOAM PAD: A closed cell foam pad that doesn't absorb water is needed "Ensolite" "Thermarest" or "Ridgerest" are recommended. Line the inside of your stuff sac with a  garbage bag. You will not have room to bring a big bulky air mattress as it will not fit into your kayak.

CHAIRS: We believe in creature comforts while kayak camping!  if you would like to bring a compact folded chair, that's fine. These types can fit flat on the deck of your kayak with additional gear such as a tent packed on top of the chair. You may also purchase sleeves that convert your thermarest sleeping pad into a chair. Crazy Creek  has compact non framed chairs that are acceptable and you may buy similar products at most outdoor camping stores.  Please do not bring chairs that have a frame as you will need to leave them back in your car.

RAIN GEAR: Good, durable rain gear is essential. A rain poncho or jacket combined with rain pants is required & should be gortex or a coated nylon material. No flimsy plastic that would tear easily.

CLOTHING: Quick drying nylon shorts  are great for kayaking and hiking. Sweat pants or pants made of fleece material are recommended although jeans  are not advisable. In general,  clothing should be loose fitting, fast-drying and comfortable. Your required  sweater should be  fleece, capilene, wool  or a material that insulates even when wet. We may experience   cool temperatures so warm pullovers that insulate when damp are crucial for your safety and comfort.

FOOTWEAR: On our hike to Spider Lake we require a sturdy tennis shoe or lightweight hiking boot. When kayaking, you may wear any shoe that you don’t mind getting wet such as a tennis shoe, wetsuit booty or sandal. A sturdy sandal such as a Keen style that protects the toes works well, but open toed sandals are acceptable or wetsuit booties. There are other more affordable brands of sandals other than Keens that provide toe protection. For warmth at night, we suggest socks and a tennis shoe or hiking boot. We have found Crocs to be dangerous on the rocks as they offer little support and are not permitted.

MORE ON HOW TO PACK: Think light!  Every ounce adds up to more stuff  to carry. Small plastic bottles with screw on tops (i.e. recycled travel size shampoo bottles ) are great for small items such as sunscreen, lotions, shampoo etc.). Avoid sweet smelling lotions that may attract insects.  We'll check out every one's gear before getting on the water.  Small plastic bottles can be found at most drug stores in the travel section or at outdoor stores.

TOILET SYSTEM, HYGIENE AND OTHER TIDBITS: At camp, we will be using the PETT toilet system which can be reviewed at: http://www.easycaretoilet.com/   Our PETT is easy to use, environmental friendly and virtually smell free! Campers are in the water each day so actual bathing is not necessary. Hand soap and hand sanitizer will be required around kitchen prep and after toilet use. If you feel the need for a real shower, a bucket of lake water may be taken 100 feet from the shore and using a biodegradable soap, you may rinse off. No soap of any kind is permitted in or near the lake water. (Joy, Dawn. CampSuds and Dr. Brommer's are biodegradable).

FOOD AND WATER: As with backpacking, meals will be planned with limited space in mind. Please indicate by email if you have any dietary needs. Everyone will bring two full water bottles and a jug of water. Additional water used will be boiled or purified with a pumping system.

ELECTRONIC DEVICES: Please leave all electronic gadgets such as Ipods, game boys, boom boxes, etc at home. Let the wilderness become your entertainment. May we offer the suggestion to leave your watches at home too.


In the event of an emergency only, our group can be reached   by calling Kim Powell’s cell phone at: 831-345-2417.  Cell service has improved each summer but is still rather patchy. The call may not go through.   An alternative number is the US Forest Service Dispatch: at 530-647-5250 or the Eldorado County Sheriffs Dept:  530 621-5655.

We are camped at the Pleasant Lake Boat In Campsite and will be in that vicinity most of the time.

Good luck as you prepare for our adventure!


Intern Ryan Berry-Cody demonstrating a self rescue