When Life Gives You Lemons…Switch Paddling Venues!

31 07 2011

Sunday July 24th was to be my day to enjoy paddling in “conditions.” Conditions – means rougher water and wind. We sought out 20+ mph winds, 2+ foot wind waves and maybe rollers. The goal was to learn to paddle in these seas, but also to perform assisted rescues and self rescues in them, too.

Paddling and doing rescues in flat wind-less water is completely different from doing them in rough water and wind…so taking a class & practicing with instructors around is really helpful! During the days leading up to the session we watched the weather forecast closely and found it to be questionable. The forecast wasn’t calling for a windy day. Still, it seemed like some places in the Columbia Gorge would offer winds kicking up.

The group met at Alder Creek in Portland, early in the morning, and loaded up cars and the van.

And we headed out. First venue: Viento State Park. We arrived and I soon saw my old kayak, a P&H Scorpio nicknamed “Diana,” on another student’s car.

My old flame...with someone new...

I immediately recognized the Welsh and British flags I had put on her deck.

We headed out to view the wind conditions on the Columbia. It was starting to blow, but just not enough for a meaningful class just yet.

So Paul decided to drive east, to the Klickitat River area to see if things would be more conducive to this class. Well, it was even worse! Just glassy. Well, we figured we are here, might as well paddle, something. We crossed the Columbia and entered the Klickitat. Paddling up, up, up to finally find some fast-moving water.

We got up to a section with a 1-foot drop and couldn’t paddle any further. So we dropped back to a spot with eddies on both sides of the main channel and practiced peel outs and eddy turns.

Fun! Here is Dennis Pennel doing a nice job peeling out, and then eddy turning on the other side of the river.

We did these forward. We did them backward. We did them eyes closed. We did them without paddles. And finally, Paul did it standing up…sort of. One of the few times you’ll ever see Paul Kuthe swim!


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