Kayak Surfing in the Columbia Gorge – Plus Salmon Spawning

10 10 2011

I have been working at Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe during 2011, and the irony is that I’ve been teaching beginners so I have not had much time to play in rougher conditions! Even on the days I tried we got skunked – calm weather prevailed.

But this past Friday I was able to get out with Neil Schulman on the Columbia River Gorge for what we locals call a “wind run.” The Columbia Gorge often gets winds in excess of 18 mph, sometimes even upwards of 40 mph. On these days, wind waves form, turning the river into a continuous set of wind-driven waves.

These waves are different from those at the ocean beaches because they have no rising depths beneath them – they don’t have big breaking faces. These waves generally are continuous rollers. On Friday, the biggest reached three feet, so it was a great day to learn. I’d never done this before!

Once out in the midst of the river you turn your kayak downwind and start paddling. We went from Stevenson, WA to the Wind River – it’s only about 5 miles. It’s incredibly forgiving. If you don’t catch a wave, it just passes beneath. If you get tired and want to paddle lazily, you just let these rollers roll along underneath you. If you want to surf, you have to keep up a good pace and then when a wave comes you sprint to catch it! It is a lot like interval training. Sometimes, you can surf from one roller onto the next and catch it, then another and then another! Fun, but exhausting!

We caught our breath by paddling up the Wind River to see if we could see salmon spawning. Sure enough! We got up to some riffles and dozens of Chinook and Coho were spawning! Always a breathtaking sight!

Here is a short video of the Chinook action on the Wind River…

River Stewardship Presentation at KEEN Footwear Tonight

9 03 2011

Today (Wednesday March 8th) at 7:00 p.m. at KEEN Footwear, 926 NW 13th, Portoand, OR – A presentation by super kayaker Sam Drevo of boating on Mount Rainier’s Carbon River! It’s a benefit for the Oregon Whitewater Association! It illustrates the first descent of rafts on this narrow, walled in creek barely wide enough to accommodate a raft!

Once in, there’s no way out on the Carbon!

There will also be a presentation of his 2010 film, “Trout on the Wind,” a film about dam removal and restoration of salmon runs!

Wild River Restoration Night! Hollywood Theatre May 13th…

29 04 2010

Local film provides first hand look at unique dam removal and restoration project in the Wind River watershed in the Columbia River Gorge – The Wild River Restoration Night.

On Thursday, May 13th Crag and Gifford Pinchot Task Force will host the Wild Rivers Movie Night at the Hollywood Theater.  The evening will feature the Portland Premiere of Trout on the Wind, a locally produced documentary about the removal of the Hemlock Dam from Trout Creek in Washington.  Trout Creek is a tributary of the Wind River in the Columbia River Gorge, and in the summer of 2009 salmon and steelhead made their way up the creek without the aid of a fish ladder for the first time in decades. The Forest Service worked with local organizations, contractors and citizens to joined forces to remove Hemlock dam and restore over 20 miles of prime habitat for Columbia River Steelhead.  This film provides a first hand look at how this successful restoration project was accomplished from start to finish.

Three additional selections from the Wild & Scenic Film Festival will be shown, including John Waller’s Ascending the Giants, the Good Life Parable: An MBA Meets a Fisherman and a short called SalmonsKin by Thomas Dunklin.

All proceeds from the showing will benefit the Crag Law Center and Gifford Pinchot Task Force. Crag is a public interest environmental law center that supports community efforts to protect and sustain the natural legacy of the Pacific Northwest.  Gifford Pinchot Task Force supports the biological diversity and communities of the Northwest through conservation and restoration of forests, rivers, fish, and wildlife.  The two organizations have worked together for many years on projects in Washington, played a role in the removal of Hemlock dam and restoration of Trout Creek.

May 13th, 2010, Doors 6:30 PM at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd – $7