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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I so enjoyed your photo journal here, Keel. Your writing allows me to get lost in the beauty and grace of that day. Biggest hugs xoxo mom