Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mayer Park to Klickitat

From klickitat_apr09

It felt like summer. We were out on the Columbia and Klickitat Rivers today between Hood River and The Dalles. Sunny, about 80 degrees. It felt great.

Neil and Tom organized this OOPS trip. The plan was to put in at Mayer State Park near Rowena Oregon (near The Dalles) and paddle across the Columbia to the Klickitat, up the Klickitat to the first few rapids and play there til the afternoon west wind built up in the Gorge. Then return to the Columbia and surf the wind waves back to Mayer Park.

Well, by this morning it was pretty clear that the typical west wind was not going to materialize today. So Neil suggested we just spend the day playing in the moving water at the first few rapids on the Klickitat. Practicing peeling out of eddies, ferry gliding, etc.

It was a beautiful day. Sunny, blue skies. No wind.

There were eight of us total. Neil and Tom, Bob, Jay (another one), Ken Scholtz, Dave and Karen Dalbey and me. We got on the water a bit after 10am and paddled across the Columbia to the mouth of the Klickitat and headed upstream. I mentioned to Karen "Hey, this paddling upstream isn't bad". She noted that I probably shouldn't have said that...

We got up to the first fast water and all put our helmets on. Played for awhile in the first eddy and eddyline. Then worked to get up to the next eddy. Felt like work at the time anyway. We played on that eddyline a bit as well. There was a nice beach above the fast water and Neil worked pretty hard and took a fair while get to it. Looked like alot of work. Then Tom informed us that that was our intended lunch spot. And if we didn't get there we couldn't eat :) Great motivational speaker.

Dave Dalbey went for it and got there pretty handily. Looked like the key was to have alot of speed crossing the eddline and cross the eddyline to ferry across rather than turn in any way downstream.

I went for it. I had good speed crossing the eddyline and ferried to the other side fairly easily. Then got bogged down in the fast current near the rocks on the other side. Just couldn't make any progress. I was out of energy when Neil pointed out a little eddy I could rest in. Got it. Rested a minute then pulled hard for the last 20 or 30 yards to the beach. That was exercise. I was tired and ready for lunch!

That beach was a great spot for lunch.

After lunch most folks went up to the next set of rapids. I was enjoying the beach alot so napped a bit. Once they all came back we played for quite awhile in the current near our lunch beach. I hadn't been in current in a sea kayak since last summer so it was great to get the practice. And nice to do it on such a warm day so if one dumped ones boat the water felt great. Most folks were rolling periodically just to keep cool.

Finally we headed back. We floated lazily down the last bit of the Klickitat down to the Columbia. The area is just beautiful this time of year. Still green and fresh with spring. Lots of flowers. Hawks and eagles and osprey, oh my. I saw a nice steelhead jump a couple times.

Got back to the Columbia and as expected no wind. But it was a pleasant paddle upstream the short ways back to Mayer State Park. A good group of folks and a good day on the water.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dalton Point to Chinook Landing

From DaltonPoint_090329

On a gray and sleety morning in late March an intrepid band of OOPS kayakers launched from Dalton Point on the Oregon side of the Columbia (near Multnomah Falls) headed toward Chinook Landing (near Fairview, Oregon).

Tom Argent and Neil Schulman did a great job of organizing this trip. There were eight of us altogether: Tom, Neil, Mike, Bob, Kevin, Becky, Stacy and myself. We met and Chinook Landing and did all the shuttle stuff to get us and boats up to Dalton Point. We launched at appr 10am and paddled across to Phoca Rock. We explored around it a bit, then headed over to Cape Horn on the Washington side and really enjoyed exploring that area. The cliffs and waterfalls there were beautiful.

As we left Cape Horn and headed west we got a bit of west wind, but not much. Maybe 8 mph. Sometimes it was there, sometimes not, til we got to Reed Island.

We paddled on the north side of Reed Island to find a lunch spot. No wind at all on that side. By now it was warm and sunny. A very relaxing lunch.

After lunch we headed to the west end of Reed Island then threaded our way through the maze of drift nets. I find it hard to believe that commercial salmon fishing with nets is still allowed in the Columbia given the precarious state of these salmon runs. Sure, commercial salmon fishing in Alaska still makes sense. But not on the Columbia. With millions of people out of work in this country it's impossible to justify keeping a couple thousand fishing jobs (at most) that threaten these fish with extinction. People will live. Extinction is forever.

But eventually we crossed the Columbia and paddled behind Gary Island, then along the outside edge of the Sandy River Delta. While paddling in that shallow brush-filled water a large carp hurled itself at Stacy's boat. It made a "twack!" that was audible for quite a ways and a nice large splash! That really got her attention :) Just like the carp Kristin and I encountered in Scappoose Bay.

From there it was on to a few large rocks (with power pylons on them) at Troutdale. We found a nice eddyline coming off one of those rocks and stopped there to play for awhile. A nice warm day, a fun little eddyline... life is good.

But eventually it's time for all of us to get home so we headed west the now short distance back to Chinook Landing. We landed at appr 17:00.

According to Mike's trusty GPS: 17.7 miles. A good day on the water.

From DaltonPoint_090329

Friday, February 20, 2009

Valentine's vacation at the beach

From Nahcotta

Kristin and I had both been working alot lately and she had some vacation time she had to use (use it or lose it). We wanted to get out into nature, do some paddling, and eat healthy food to rejuvenate ourselves. But we couldn't afford to go too far. So we decided to head to the Long Beach Peninsula for a few days.

We headed out on Sunday Feb 15 after Valentine's Day, pointing the car in the direction of Astoria. We stopped for a nice paddle from Knappa on the way.

From Nahcotta

That was about 5.4 miles.

Definitely enough so we were ready for dinner! In Astoria we stayed at Clemintine's B&B, which was lovely. We showered and headed to Baked Alaska for dinner -- the first of our seafood dinners of the trip. So far, the trip was going according to plan: nature, exercise, healthy food. I love it when a plan comes together.

The next day we had a nice breakfast at the B&B and then meandered around Astoria in the morning. I'd been to Astoria a couple times in the past year or so in the course of several kayak trainings, but had never explored the town. At those classes we always did our wrapup at the Fort George Brewery, which is a great way to wrapup a kayaking day. (Well, not always... on our night navigation class last summer that went from Aldrich Point to Astoria we didn't get to Astoria til after 2am, at which time the pub was closed. I really could have used a beer about then too.)

So on this sunny February day Kristin and I wandered the town and toured the Flavel Museum -- very worthwhile. And hit up the Blue Scorcher Bakery for bread for the trip.

We then got in the car and headed north. Stopped in Ilwaco for lunch -- more seafood! Then bought fresh seafood from a local market to cook at our cabin for the next couple days.

We stayed at Shakti Cove Cabins, which are very peaceful. Just the kind of relaxing setting we needed. Kristin made a great dinner of prawns and sole.

We wanted to paddle Willapa Bay. We'd never done that. But on the days of our trip the tides were not in our favor. High tides at about 7 am. Low tides were about 1 - 2 pm. And Willapa Bay has lots of mudflats at low tide. Very easy for boats to get stranded in the mud til the tide comes back up. But if you stay in the narrow channels that are deeper, the current can be very strong, sweeping you out toward the bar, and you really don't want to go there.

So we got out on the water early on Tuesday morning to avoid low tide. Put in at Nahcotta. And paddled east to Long Island. Take a look at the GPS track of that trip and you'll see that the ebb did push us a bit north at first til we figured out how strong it was.

There was still plenty of water when we got to the island. Nice river rock beach. Yeah! We walked around on the island for awhile. Lots of elk tracks. But didn't want to stay long since the tide was ebbing. By the time we left the boats were high and dry. We had to carry them across a good bit of mud to get back to the water.

Our plan was to paddle south against the ebb in the shallow water near Long Island to avoid the strong ebb current in the channel, then head west across the channel and let the ebb take us back to Nahcotta. And our plan worked. We had an amazingly calm February day. We took advantage of the beautiful weather to practice technique in the clear shallow water near Nahcotta. Yep, saw lots of oysters.

Trip: 6.45 mi.

We were back to Nahcotta about noon. So we relaxed, walked around Ocean Park and the beach there, and Kristin made another great dinner. This time fresh crab and greens. Yep, more healthy local food :)

From Nahcotta