Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hood River to North Bonneville

Monday April 20th would be a perfect day for paddling so i decided to make the most of it and get down past Bonneville dam, my last portage in the US portion of the trip. I put on at around 9am at the windsurfing launch. I met a fellow long distance paddler, his name was Par pronounced pear, like the fruit. He helped me put in on the glassy water so i could keep my socks dry for the day. It was a beautiful day, 70 degrees, sunny, and calm as it could be. The birds were out in force and I immediately felt the pressures of life fade away once more. Paddling through the reflections of stumps from a forest long gone with sea gulls perched here and there. I soaked it up, for I had been off the water just long enough to know that this was the good life, it was good to be back.

I paddled for a few hours appreciating the mild current which was whisking me to my destination at a steady 2mph. I spotted a Bald eagle at a distance, and was surprised when it let me get so close before it took to the air. There was a juvenile with it that dwarfed the adult. I guessed it was a mother and son pair. They were feeding on a fish as I came up to them and as I paddled away I saw them return to finish there meal.

There is always a little yin and yang to everything and I was reminded of this as I passed some lovely looking sludge that filled the eddylines of the river. It was as if the river was trying to keep me focused on the original goal of the trip which is to bring awareness to the Columbia river as a whole. The good and the bad...
My lunch spot was a large outcropping of rocks, a few miles from Cascade Locks. I was making great time and enjoyed a long rest hanging out on the warm rocks. It is amazing how a few weeks can change the weather, two weeks ago i was paddling in a drysuit, and now I'm wearing shorts and a T shirt. This truly is the good life.
Of course all good things come to an end, as the wind picked up at 1pm sharp right as i began my last paddling leg. luckily the current is strong as you pass Cascade Locks which made quick work of the remaining 5 miles. I made it to the Indian fishing area, my predetermined takeout before 2pm, a whopping 5+ mph average with lunch included. I was quite grateful. My plan had been to do this portion of the trip as a day trip so i could avoid portaging Bonneville dam with a fully loaded boat. It was paying off because though it was a short distance from the river to the road, it was almost straight up a rocky bank which I made quick work of by carrying my boat up in 1 trip. It would have been at least 3 trips with a boat full of gear.
Once on the road my wheels made easy work of the portage, the dam security threatened me with arrest if I didn't portage all the way to a boat ramp 1 1/2 miles downstream from the dam. Since I was dropping my boat off in North Bonneville 2 miles from the dam, I just walked it to town. There is a small creek that runs through N Bonneville which I put on and paddled the final 1/2 mile to my friend Jerred Jackmans house. The creek was clear and cold. I spooked at least a dozen mergansers from the shallow riffles, and watched a turkey vulture sore above the tree tops just above me. It was a perfect ending to the days paddle. I'm looking forward to finishing the final leg to the ocean as soon as possible.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I made it to Hood River!!

Though most of this trip has been about quality suffering, its moments like these that make it all worth it. This is a 270 degree view of my camp lagoon, Sunday morning. Click on it for the best viewing experience.

I was stopped 12 miles east of Arlington, WA by 45 + mph winds last week. I took the opportunity to hitchhike home and refuel my mind and body. Having access to the Internet allowed me to spot a 2 day break in the west winds, to head back up and sprint to Hood River.

I got dropped of Friday night, right where i left off, three mile canyon,Exit and mile marker 151 on I 84. I was up and paddling by 5AM, and took a brief stop in Arlington to pick up some gear I had left at home. Thank you Trever Jostad for driving out to get me out of my wet jeans.
The published "portage" road around John Day dam is blocked by a large gate, and I almost broke my arm trying to lower my boat into the water at the locks outlet, the only place I could find access to the water.
I made it about 10 miles past the dam before darkness began to creep up. I camped on a large island called Miller Island, and ran into a fellow photographer who had paddled over from the Washington side to photo old Indian paintings. Scott Dietz was pleasant company to cook dinner with, we exchanged photography ideas and tried out our moon lite technique. Sunday morning was sunny and beautiful, my first truly warm day of the trip. The Dalles Dam proved to be almost as bad as John Day, minus the vertical water entry. The walk down the railroad tracks was bumpy and unnerving since there was nowhere to go but into a little ditch next to a vertical rock wall. luckily a train never passed. I was Back on the water by 3pm Sunday with 20 miles of paddling ahead of me. The Easterly Winds I was hoping for finally breathed a slight breath on my back as I passed Lyle, my first familiar corner of the river. The Hood River bridge was a sight for sore eyes at 6:30 PM, 85 miles and 2 dam portages from my starting point sat morning. I am beat, but glad to have finished most of the "wind tunnel". Hood River puts me about 800 miles into the trip.

Scott Dietz was kind enough to send me these photos to publish.

"Keel Arriving".
I spotted Scott camped on a sandy beach on what i thought was an island. I wondered if my island was in fact an island or a peninsula, and was glad to find out it was indeed an island for it would have added miles to tomarrows paddle if it were not.

As i cooked dinner Scott experimented with slow exposures on his camera. This one came out great

"To The Ocean"
I feel like a tiny dot in the vastness around me. Reflecting on myself and the world around me.
Sunday morning I woke to birds chirping in the stillness. This photo embodies the feeling i get out on the river.

"Details, Hells Gate"
I head west through Hells Gate, witch seperates Miller island from Washington, wrinkling the reflection with my wake.

Photos copywrite Scott Dietz