Sunday, 12 October 2014
Allan goes boating on the Naselle River
On the drive south to the Long Beach peninsula, there is a long curved bridge just before the twisty road alongside the Willapa Bay on U.S. Highway 101. It’s just over 15 minutes from our home.
That bridge crosses the river I wanted to explore. It goes to the town of Naselle.
Today I would travel up the Naselle River from Willapa Bay. Naselle also has a boat ramp onto a narrow part of the river. Launching there could later lead to a walk back to the car from downstream if the river became too swift or shallow.
The closest official point to paddle up the Naselle River is down the bay at the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge boat ramp off Highway 101. The Washington Water Trails Association ( http://wwta.org/willapa_bayfaq/ ) says its about nine miles from there to the town of Naselle but I later found those are highway miles, not shoreline miles according to google maps.
Today I went about fourteen miles and I still have not seen most of the river.
It was my day off and I got the boat into the water not so promptly at noon. Well, it was my day off. The tide was at its lowest and safe to go until after dark.
Someone asked before I left whether they could pick the oysters. These are private farms, I said. It would be like stealing from a farmer’s fields. Someone else inquired about the outrigger mounts. I decided to leave the sail kit at home again as there was very little wind and a slender kayak can explore more stuff.
A house above the twisty road that we will never see while driving. A house like this might be common elsewhere but is the exception here. There is very little development along the shores of Willapa Bay in order to protect the oyster farms.
The first destination was the mouth of the Naselle River. It is a straight three mile paddle according to the site, and another six miles upriver to the town of Naselle. Ahead on the right is a point about halfway there. I prefer to hug the shore as there is more to see.
Here is where I ground to a noisy halt and discovered I was on an oyster bed. The paddle shows the depth even though I was pretty far from shore. The beds are marked with vertical branches but I thought I could clear them all.
This tower marks the entrance to the Naselle River. Ever notice people watching as you parallel park? Eight birds are checking out whether this guy can land:
Heading up the Naselle after an hour fifteen minutes with a heron in the distance:
The remains of an old dock on the Stanley Peninsula:
Approaching a small oyster operation straight ahead on Teal Slough. I once approached this place by motorcycle but their dogs didn’t make me feel welcome. The 101 bridge is on the left. The waves were a bit splashy.
A closer view of the oyster place and a discarded boat
A bucket of oysters on the dock:
A boat’s eye view of the last curve before northbound drivers see the 101 bridge:
A troll’s eye view:
I pulled ashore looking for a place to park for the next trip as it was already 2:30. I was not going to make it up any six miles to the town of Naselle and back by dark.
An old dock or trestle parallel to Parpala road:
I continued further upriver to find one of the two Smith Creeks that feed the bay. Maybe it would be a closer place to launch for the town of Naselle. Later I found out that the other Smith Creek by South Bend has the official boat ramp. Here you would have to leave your car on the highway and find a trail to the water.
Before Smith Creek is the Ellsworth Slough with more birds and a wide entrance.
Since I started at noon, and it was now 2:40 I went in quickly as the sun set at 6:30.
It was shallow, quiet, and with lots of interesting obstacles.
This is where Humphrey Bogart might hop out dragging a rope to pull me upstream.
This log would have made a good foot bridge but there was no trail I could see. After just over a mile I was stopped and had to head back.
This is where I leaned back so far I pulled out a seat mount and covered everything in sticks and needles:
Quietly hurried back toward the main river…
…back under the Ellsworth Slough bridge…
…and towards the big 101 bridge.
It was now 4:00 and I went for the shortest routes.
From the bridge it’s a boring 40 minutes to the Stanley Peninsula. That worked out to over 3 mph which is also a good walking speed.
Shot lots of pictures as I approached these elk but only this one caught them. They were shy.
Back into the smooth bay. From here, the misty point to the left of the clear passage marks the halfway point to the dock. It was so smooth I could see fish jump.
The birds were watching for fish too.
The Naselle River entrance’s tower behind me:
“POSTED NO TRESPASSING” over a hidden farm:
A gull over a piling showing the tide just going out. The small branches to the right probably signify where the oyster beds are shallow, I avoided them now.
It’s now 5:18 and I still am trying to get a good shot of a bird splashing through a take off. It’s not getting any earlier but I have packed a flashlight and a whistle.
The water is so calm I actually leave a wake pretty far back. Just passing the halfway point down the bay.
Just a shot of how this boat has me sit like I’m in a recliner, or some gym device that floats and takes you places.
Last heron and its squawk coming soon:
The 25 mph bend in the highway and the boat ramp coming up. It’s almost 6:00.
Sunset looking south while packing up.