Opening: Paddle the LA River

The day-out-on-kayaks has moved past its pilot program status.

It can feel, come the middle of June, that you're one of the only people not wearing a puffy vest, waterproof clothes, and a helmet, with a paddle at your side.

The lure of summer pleasures fuels a lot of advertising and pop culture come summer, and nothing symbolizes this seasonal, all-too-brief freedom like being out on the water with only adventuring and nature enjoyment in mind.

But you don't need to go away to camp to dip a toe into this warm-weather classic. Paddle the LA River is back, as of Monday, June 16, and its organizers are emphasizing that what was once a pilot program has now reached a level of established this-is-happening-ness.

And thank goodness, too, given how fast tickets went last summer. People wanted to try oaring along our urban waterway, lots of people, and kayak spots went faster than a Snowy Egret taking off from a river-close branch.

Egrets are just one of the many birds people on the river might see while paddling, but there's more to soak in beyond the flora and fauna along the banks of the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area. The spirit of the project, which seeks in large part to reintroduce SoCalers to the fun of the oft-maligned river, is as pervasive as birds and trees.

LA Conservation Corps is at the lead of the trips, which happen Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Final day is Sept. 13.

"The paddling experience transports people away from the urban sprawl of Los Angeles into a natural sanctuary," Pablo Cardoso, the program's director, observed.

"The most natural stretch" of the 51-mile LA River is the setting for the paddle outings. But participants won't transverse the full 51 miles, of course; the trip is about two miles and takes around an hour and a half.

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