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Archive for the ‘boating’ Category

Monday, 16 October 2017

Allan goes boating on the Wallicut River

The traditional route north to Grays Harbor and the Puget Sound from the Columbia River didn’t involve heading up the Pacific coast. Instead, at the mouth of the Columbia River, one of three portage routes to Willapa Bay were used. The most popular was the western route up through Ilwaco to Black Lake and then up the Tarlett Slough. It is still discernable as it goes up east of Sandridge Road. The eastern route was up the Chinook River. It isn’t easy to explore presently as the Bear River that flows into the Willapa is closed to the public. A small group of us tried it once but didn’t get very far north. My yellow highlights show the three routes.

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A 1964 Historical Map of the S.W. Washington Coast drawn up by Maureen Mulvey.

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This book has an entire chapter discussing the portage routes.

Today I paddled up the middle route which starts at the Wallicut River. My intention was to get close to the Wallicut Farm on Highway 101.

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I launched at the lower star hoping to get close to where the river crosses Hwy. 101.

Earlier this year I stopped to check out a launch and see if the bridge was real or just covered a gated culvert. This view shows a small bay NW of the bridge.

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The old KOA campground, now called the Wallicut River RV & Campground Resort, was closed today. I would have gladly paid a small parking fee for the extra security and a chance to share some extra pictures of their campsites, but couldn’t today.

There isn’t really access to the river elsewhere, just tall growths of blackberry and salmonberry. I picked the spot on the northwest corner of the bridge that has a pullout for parking. The pullout on the south side of 101 was occupied by an idling car and driver staring ahead, for a long time. I’d choose the south side next time and here’s why.

The plan was to just push the boat through to the little bay, but, it got stuck.

After cutting away some blackberry I pulled it through.

Here is why this launch site is a fail. The bay is just beyond the brush. The main river is flowing under the bridge at the upper right, (beyond the brush).

My short trip across this tiny lake attracted the local herd.

I didn’t expect an audience.

I beached, pulled the boat up and over to the bridge.

Cows, and now a snake.

Finally, the river.

A concealed cow watched me head upstream

The alders had small bunches of berries.

The first of several logs that I pulled the boat over.

There are a couple of houses up here but it’s mostly pasture.

For hundreds of years, this was an important portage route north to the Willapa Bay and beyond. When modern roads are blocked by trees they get removed. I imagine the Chinooks did the same. If this was something I had to solve back in the day, I think I would have burned them at low tide or recruited the public works division of the tribe to pull them aside.

With two major tree falls ahead, I turned around after 0.6 miles.

Still, a good day to be out on the water.

Back past the cattle.

This one hadn’t been photographed yet.

Under the bridge towards the Columbia River.

Vandalia, a suburb of Ilwaco, was on the left.

Ahead, three dark tunnels with the sound of dripping water inside.

The culvert was large enough to paddle through but I thought I should climb over to make sure I wouldn’t go over a small falls.

I took a flash picture of the black tunnel to study later

This was the best beach but very steep and gorsey.

I was now 0.5 miles downstream from where I launched.

NOT a culvert to paddle into.

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For orientation, here’s a familiar view from the west end of Stringtown Road, at this bridge, to Hwy 101.

Entering the river at this bridge is discouraged by a lack of parking, no path, and a NO TRESPASSING sign. From here down, it’s pretty much private property to the Columbia River.

To get to the lower Wallicut River, the choices are: drag a boat up and over, enter from the Columbia River, or, buy this two-unit house on the river, as one of my boating friends encouraged.

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Only $175,000+ and lots of room for boats.

I returned upstream and stopped at the Wallicut River RV & Campground Resort. The campgrounds are large and well manicured. Not so long ago the whole thing was for sale for less than $400,000.

I was curious if the sign was a “BEWARE OF….” so I put myself in further danger and climbed up the bank to look.

It is soft boat launch from the campground

I paddled back to where I started.

This time I exited on the SW of the bridge.

Another steep bank of blackberry.

Later I drove upstream. As it coursed along the far side of this pasture I saw this sign.

From Douglas Allen’s book, Shoalwater Willapa, on page 129 he had a short history on why the upper Wallicut River is not navigatable.

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The Wallicut River is much smaller and less navigatable than it used to be. A very short trip today but it’s one more river explored, with many to go.

 

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Monday, 9 October 2017

My first reference that there was a falls on the Palix River was from this book written by a naturalist who lived on the Willapa Bay in the early 1850s. He wrote extensively of the local region.  On pages 41 and 42 he wrote of an outing he took up the ‘Palux’ River to see the falls which tumbled some 200 feet down a series of cataracts.

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I followed the course of the river system on google maps and found two white features that could be waterfalls. I cross-checked and these marks didn’t show on Bing maps. I decided that next time I went boating, I would to drag a little boat up the riverbed and see if these were the falls.

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At the top center are two white shapes with two logs between for scale.

After my trip, I did a search to fill out the narrative and found few references and only one engraving about any waterfalls on the Palix Rivers.

There is a thread on an Oregon Hikers club page entitled; “What happened to the “Falls of the Palux River?” 

Bryan Swan wrote on the thread in 2008 “…on the North Fork of the Palix about 2/3 of a mile above tidewater there are six or seven very clearly visible white marks along the river in that canyon that can be seen on Google Earth. The valley upstream of the canyon is at 128 feet ASL and tidewater is at the mouth of the canyon, so there’s about 120 feet worth of loss taking place in there. Looks to me like two drops, then the river makes a 90 degree left turn and drops four more times back-to-back.
I do not expect getting in there will be very easy.”

A ‘forester’ person added, “From the west side, you’re looking at a 400′ change in elevation over about 700 feet of ground. Pretty steep. Nothing down there looks huge, so it had better be the prettiest small falls you’ve ever seen to make it worth the effort.”

Apparently, more of the falls were visible by satellite back in 2008.

A second result of the search yielded the 1894 book ‘The Oregonian’s Handbook of the Pacific Northwest.’  On page 318 there is an engraving of a photo by A. Gylfe of “THE FALLS OF THE PALIX RIVER NEAR SOUTH BEND.”  There is no text describing the falls, however, they were touting nearby South Bend; “This harbor has offers safe anchorage to the largest ships afloat, and has ample accommodations for all the shipping that will ever visit the state of Washington.” I then looked up Ilwaco, and 123 years ago the book declared on page 302 that, “This is a solid town as is entitled to the attention of all visitors to Washington’s coast .”  It still is.

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This book isn’t in the library system but looked like a good reference book.

Today I packed up the 9.5 foot pretty light ‘MaryBeth’ kayak to check out the North Fork of the Palix River. Earlier this year I traveled most of the South Fork of the Palix.

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The boat launch is on Highway 101 near the Rose Ranch and requires a Discover Pass.

A plus 4.2-foot incoming tide.

Maybe the smaller the boat, the more I like to carry. I packed a full lunch and cooler (I only ate half a sandwich), a spare set of clothes and shoes (untouched), and the electronics box.

A muddy beach and the western sky.

I headed east. This bay includes the entrance to the Canon River plus the South, Middle, and the North Forks of the Palix River.

One of the old pilings used for logging.

I thought this piling had a face with a small branch in its mouth.

The entrance of a small bay I explored. The river was now sheltered from the wind.

The entrance narrowed as I entered the North Palix River. It was noisy with birds.

First, a flock of geese flew off. As I got closer I saw the same little birds I had seen in October 2015 at the John Day River east of Astoria in Oregon. The cute little birds bob their heads and chatter through their long beaks as they feed along the bank. Here is a video I took on that trip.

Here is a different flock today.

One of the last birds leaving as I tried to quietly approach.

Branch tentacles to paddle around.

The tide was incoming at 1.5 feet per hour. It was enough to drift the boat upstream if I stopped paddling. The river water was salty.

I think this is a non-native blue spruce.

The air cooled as the sun was blocked out.

The sun was bright above the river valley where it has been logged on both sides.

The first log to hoik over. The tide was an incoming 7.0 feet.

It was time to get out and drag the boat upstream.

The paddle worked ok as a steadying stick.

Soon I pulled the boat onto a small gravel bar and continued walking up the stream using the phone’s MapMyTracks app to track the distance.

Looking back at the little boat on the bar.

The river bed was now fresh water and not muddy except near the shore.

Fall colors in calf deep water with a rising 7.7-foot incoming tide.

Logs to climb over.

No matter what the tide, a hike is required to get to these falls and being that the area is also logged, the public is probably not welcome above the valley.

A fernlike plant on a log.

Handholds helped climbing over this log.

A half-hour later the wind through the trees changed its character to more of a roar. Up ahead were the falls. I really had contemplated turning around several times by now.

Logs were everywhere as I waded a shallow route to an ‘island’ below the falls.

View to the right.

View to the left.

Here is a 360-degree video of the noise and the falls.

There were deep pools ahead and steep banks on either side. I figured this would be far enough.

A lower view

Here again is the old engraving from the Oregonian to compare.

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There might be a taller cataract above as it looks like the photographer crossed the pool to the green knoll on the left.

 

The panoramic view

These were taken with my little Sony waterproof camera as I couldn’t find the larger camera until I got back to the car. It had been caught in my waistband when it fell out of my shirt pocket while climbing the logs.

Something between a bird and a bear had left their fish meal here.

I scanned the area again wondering whether something bigger was watching me. I didn’t see anything and headed back. There was also a razor clam shell in the river which I figure some animal imported.

An unusual colony of fungi gave me a chance to rest on the way back.

The tide was still rising at 8.7 feet.

Now the water was more like knee deep plus in the middle.

The shore was thick with branches and rivulets which could have punctured my waders. The river route served ok except that several logs I had previously ducked under I now had to climb around or over.

Back after an hour. The boat would have drifted upstream had I not tied it to a log on the shore.

I didn’t double check if the distance to this point matched on both the GPS devices. Since I had taken the phone to the falls and left the Garmin in the boat, the difference should equal the riverbed walk. The result was that the falls are a half mile walk from the blocking logs.

A wet knot

The earlier log obstructions were now underwater as I headed back.

Back over the beach where the birds had been feeding.

The headwind returned as I more slowly worked my down the river.

The boat landing ahead.

A bull was there to greet me when I returned.

Salty sea beans (salicornia). I picked a few as Skyler likes them.

At a 9.0 foot tide, the muddy beach was gone. A pair of tourists arrived on a heavily loaded motorcycle, but I was a bit too tired and unsure if I should be the local greeter. I could have had them sample the sea beans or sent them off the main road towards the picturesque Bay Center but we pretty much minded our own business.

A sign on their trunk declared they were headed from Argentina to Alaska.

Sea beans ready to garnish the evening’s salad.

As ‘forester’ said in his or her thread “it had better be the prettiest small falls you’ve ever seen to make it worth the effort.” Well, I think it was. Now my video is in the google search.  I don’t think it will prove destructive to a long-preserved secret. The loggers protect the top and to visit it is a rough hybrid paddle and hike that I just happened to hit right with the tides.

 

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The phone app with the extra mile walked.

The little car GPS I keep waterproofed.

 

 

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

in which Allan sails on the Hawaiian Chieftain

The Tall Ships have been visiting Ilwaco for years, however, this is the first time I’ve actually gone out on one of their sails. I was encouraged to actually do the deed when we met the ships’ crews Friday night at a potluck dinner held for our Ilwaco volunteer firefighters (blogged here). Sunday looked to be the windiest day available and the ‘Battle Sail’ looked to be the best example of competitive sailing.

The ticket sales are done remotely from their shore office. The homesite with their schedule and pricing is at the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport site.

Below is the first photo in my digital library.  It was taken from one of our old gardening jobs to show how we often get a fine view while working.

The Lady Washington entering the Ilwaco Harbour June 2006

When I arrived at the docks on Sunday the visiting ships’ masts and spars towered over the other boats.

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I first took a tour of the Lady Washington.

Detail of the graceful iron bracing and rigging of her bow.

Eighty-nine feet of mast

A tidy mess of lines.

A detail of one of the blocks

A form of tea I had not seen before was offered below deck.

I researched this tea, and it apparently stores better this way and was often used for trading.  A small brick would have been interesting to try out but I already have a reputation of somewhat iffy experiments in the kitchen so I played it safe and bought a gift t-shirt instead.   I found out later that to prepare a tea brick, you usually first toast it for flavor and sanitation.  It is then ground to a powder before adding it to hot water. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_brick

The Tall Ships offered four programs while in Ilwaco. The first is a tour of either craft while docked with a suggested five dollar donation. Second is the ‘Adventure Tour’ of two hours “…to experience tall ship handling, sea shanty singing, and maritime amusement.”   Today I had signed up for the ‘Battle Sail’, which lasts three hours and  ” …features booming cannons, close-quarters maneuvers, and a taste of 18th century maritime life aboard tall ships. You will experience both of our tall ships in action as they attempt to win the mock battle of the day!”  I’m sure it would have featured many examples of quick reactions with the sails as they maneuvered. However, I got a call early in the day offering an adjustment or the right to cancel as, sadly, the gunpowder had not been delivered. Instead, they substituted an ‘Adventure Tour’  that turned out to be a very fine trip, too.

The fourth option, by the way, was a one-way trip to California.

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The Hawaiian Chieftain docked.

Here we are cueing up a half hour before and resolving any issues first.

We were asked to wait on the main deck opposite the dock for orientation. Much good advice was handed out: Stay alert, don’t mess with the lines. Beware where you set your stuff down as many a travel bag and expensive camera have fallen out the scuppers. We stayed in place and, as requested, stayed quiet while the crew left the dock and motored out into the bay.

Ready to work with her climbing harness.

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It looked calm in the port but the crew expected wind once we were clear of the hills.

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“Coyote (the fishing boat) one hundred feet ahead starboard” as the various hazards are called back to the captain as we safely leave the crowded port.

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A lot of pilings yet to clear. Sand Island is in the distance.

Our captain and a detail of the crews’ shirt.

Soon, members of the crew were sent aloft to prepare sails.

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First, the two  upper square sails were prepared

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After the sails were ready to deploy, each crew member made a short reverse angled climb to get off the crows nest. It was not a rope ladder down, not a rope ladder out. When swinging off the platform, one swings their feets under the platform and climbs under it.

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Finally back to the deck

The two sails were set and had the ability to pivot left or right. The fuzzy mitts on the lines reduce chaffing on the fore and aft sails.

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The engine was put in neutral and we are under sail.

A forward jib sail was set along with a similar rear mizzen sail.

A captain in training is at the wheel while we enjoy the bay.

I was impressed by the grace and playfulness of the crew that comes from their competence and enjoyment of the task at hand.

The jib being pulled to the other side after changing course.

Looking back on the ‘MapMyTracks’ app I had running on my phone, we were sailing around five mph. It was more exciting than the ferry trips on the Puget Sound that I used to enjoy.

Securing the square sails to belaying pins

Showing another crew member how to tie a stopper knot. If the line slips through the pulleys, it’s often a long tight climb to reinstall it.

Anyone losing a line through the pulleys has to buy the crew a beer, or maybe a soda.

It was joyfully announced that they had one cannon charge left over from yesterday’s ‘Battle Sail’. A random boat was signaled to pull up alongside so it could be blasted.

Stop!

The main deck is cleared of everyone except the Bosun.

He rams acharge into the cannon’s muzzle.

A signal to the other captain to move into range.

We all repeated on command “Fire in the hole!” Ears are covered, the little boat’s doom was sealed.

Hiding behind a sign didn’t save them.

A crew member mentioned that boats often pull up alongside asking to be blasted by the cannon.

Soon it was time to strike the sails.

Not much to stand on as the sail is secured

I saw a guest come up from below where she told me we could see the little store and the rear cabin.

The crew high above as I went below.

Here’s a small sample of their library as I tried to photograph all their books to study later.

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The last scarf went home with me. This design is called a ‘square topsail ketch’ and also features a triple keel to allow it to sail in shallower water than the more traditional single keel.

A 20 page PDF of their ‘Volunteer Sail Training Handbook’ is available on this page among their application and scholarship forms. It is a good read to know what a potential crew member should expect and the history of these ships.

With the sails down, we entered the main channel back to port.

Cape Disappointment with the lighthouse off to the left.

The little boats joined us in the channel

The Port of Ilwaco off the port bow.

Among the thanks that were being given to the crew as we disembarked, I heard a crew member reply, “Thank YOU for giving us the opportunity to play on our jungle gym.”

A donation to fund the volunteer crew to help cover laundry, a meal ashore or even an emergency trip to see their families.

From my phone, this was our route which just crossed the border into Oregon.

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Over two hours of the sailing and history like it used to be, amazing.

 

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Thursday, 14 Sept 2017

We started at a garden just a few blocks east of us.

Mayor Mike’s garden

….with tidying, clipping some errant rose canes and some spent perennials.

Mayor Mike’s front garden

Just as we were finishing there, a parade of many old Dodge vehicles drove by down Lake Street.

Our next mission was chop the myrtles at ….

The Port of Ilwaco

before


cutting flush to the ground with our rechargeable saw


after. We will make this garden interesting again with divisions from other plants, after some rain comes.

The myrtles will grow back, and I will keep them small.

The sightline in late summer:

22 August: before pruning the myrtles


and today

While Allan pruned, I watered three garden beds.

my favourite port garden


the driveover garden

 Having decided on a midday cultural work break, we parked at the post office.

The deer have discovered the miniature rose in the post office planter.

We walked across the street to the

Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum

to peruse the Derby Days exhibit. You still have time to see it.

“Join the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum as we explore the history of “Derbyville” and the early years of salmon derbies, recreational fishing, and the emergence of the charter-boat fishing industry on the Long Beach Peninsula. This exhibit will be on view August 4 – October 7, 2017.”

The old Dodges were parked in the museum lot and across the street.

In the museum, we were fascinated with the old photos of the marina…

…and especially by photos showing the shoreline back when our lot was riverfront property.

The river bank is now the meander line, a ditch between us and the port parking lots.

We spent considerable time peering at the photo above, and the one below, trying to pinpoint our lot and the house that used to sit on it.

An old postcard touts the climate that was one of the reasons I moved here:

The water is no longer cheap and the summers are hotter than they used to be.

Allan enjoyed this old photo of Black Lake boating.

The salmon derby camps were along the banks of the Columbia, east of Chinook.

One of my favourite parts of the musuem is their replica street of shops.  It is being changed up with some new finds.

New school room display includes a typewriter like the one I typed a very bad novel on in high school.


tailoring shop

Allan likes the Chinook canoe:

Work called.  In case the rain did not arrive on Sunday, I wanted to get four more of my most favourite curbside gardens watered, and Allan had some hedge trimming to do.

 Port of Ilwaco

port office garden


the marina


I weeded and watered three pocket gardens…


…and the Time Enough Book garden….


…and visited my good friend Scout in the book store.


as always, good books.

I had no intention of buying a book, yet I did purchase this one.

As I walked home, I noted that the meander line ditch is completely dry.  It will soon become a stream again when the rains arrive.

by the community college annex, showing the size the California wax myrtles like to attain.

Meanwhile, Allan had pruned two escallonias down at Coho Charters.

one of them, before


and after

home

frog in a water barrel (Allan’s photo)

Allan set to his new project, removing old shakes from the shed, which, in WWII years, was an electrical repair shop for small appliances.

Apparently, the shakes were just a decorative overlay. (Allan’s photo)


Allan’s photo

I rearranged some plants on the patio, accidentally pulling a santolina out of a planted chimney pot.  While transplanting it by Devery’s driveway, I saw that Frosty had gone next door to visit his new bestie, Royal.  Devery was taking photos from her porch while I was taking photos from the driveway.

 Devery and I are both delighted by this sweet friendship, initiated by Frosty.

 

 

 

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Sunday, 27 August 2017

On April 12, 2014, I took my first kayak ride. It was here in Skamokawa that I signed up for a beginning lesson from Columbia River Kayaks. We went up the inside passage of Price Island and back down on the riverside for a total of three miles (posted here). They have graceful sit-inside craft with snap on skirts and were a big help in deciding what kind of boat I wanted to own. They offer a wide range of trips with expert guidance.

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The road to Skamokawa

In March of this year, we had visited the museum at Redmen Hall, shown in the photo below.  From the windows, we had seen an enticing boat launch.

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Here is Redmen Hall from the boat launch.

The plan today was to head east, stay near the shore inside Price Island, and duck into Steamboat Slough to visit the Lewis & Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Today the wind was forecast to be from the north 10 to 16 mph. That would mean I could use sail power both directions and hopefully minimize heading into the wind.

I filled out the form. I noticed the launch was pretty quiet for a sunny summer Sunday. There were no cars parked nearby.

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I put in my dollar.

One of the locals came down to see if he could launch his ski boats yet but the tide was still too low. He then he told me that I needed to park my van in the parking lot across the road behind the trees. I only had $3 towards the $5 parking fee so it was off to the little store under Redmen Hall for a snack and more money.

As I pulled into the boat ramp’s parking lot I discovered a campground with close up views of the passing ships on the Columbia.

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Back to the launch all sorted out.

I copied this idea for carrying my boat on the van’s roof from a Yakima rack loader. It requires only lifting half the weight at a time. I’m trying to avoid using a trailer.

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Next step is to swing the tail off to the ground and then lift down the bow.

With the parking paid, I was finally off.

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Here is a closer look at the trimaran I had seen on our previous trip.

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Here is the outward channel and a marker ahead.

I chose to head outside the island as the inside passage still looked narrow and shallow.

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An Osprey nest.

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Outside Price Island I passed a kayaker carrying her dog on the back deck while playing a splashy game of fetch.

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A large barge was heading downstream across the river.

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Maybe the local I met at the ramp was finally out on the water.

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A sailboat passed me going upstream. I was paddling and had the sail out but it still passed me.

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The entrance to Steamboat Slough, about 2.5 miles from Skamokawa.

Another ship was heading up the river.

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It was the Enishi.

When I got home, according to marinetraffic.comI found out the Enishi was soon to arrive in Longview.

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There was a light breeze as I headed away from the Columbia River. I didn’t even feel the wake from the Enishi.

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Steamboat Slough and adventure ahead.

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Looking back at the Columbia.

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The shallow water is kayak friendly but not so good for motors.

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A gate that controls the water level of the interior wetlands.

I had to see what was on the other side.

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Here’s Steamboat Slough looking back towards the Columbia.

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The thick Ellison Slough continues behind the gate.

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And blackberries.

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Steamboat Slough Road is also a way to explore this area.

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Canadian geese keeping ahead.

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Steamboat Slough, the road, and I all continued east.

Soon there was no wind at all.

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Here is a junction. I went off to explore a wrong route.

My map and good camera were back at home, probably sharing the same table with Skooter. I could use the phone’s  ‘MapMyTracks’ map.  First, it helped me go inland, then back upstream, then back the way I came (but differently), and finally out to the river. The inland route stays a sizable stream and crosses under the highway.

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Missing this turn would have taken me inland or upstream to the next town.

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The incoming tide was filling the slough from ahead.

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The shortest route home was to the right while keeping straight would add another three miles.

By now it was about four hours until sunset. Although there was enough time that I didn’t need to go back the same route,  I wanted to finish the loop and avoid driving home in the dark.

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The hills of Oregon. I could hear boat engines beyond the trees.

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Back out into the river and the return of a wind.

The Columbia flows northwest here instead of due east. The trip back would be northeast and into the north wind.

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A sailboat crisscrossed the Columbia upstream but I was headed the other way.

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I was enough upstream I could see the bridge at Cathlamet, about seven miles from Skamokawa.

Here I was tacking against a near headwind. Meanwhile, two sailboats were motoring their way upstream. They had an incoming tide, and a fair wind to push them along, but, not me.

A can floating by to salvage.

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It was unopened and punctured from the side, a mystery.

Soon came a float I thought I could salvage.

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It snagged me hard and swung up the daggerboard. This may have been a marker for a pot.

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Another bird home design

Finally, after about three hours I was back at the entrance to Steamboat Slough.

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The birds were still there, though by now most of the the bar was underwater.

It was 6:45 and everybody was heading home.

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A long crooked trip back

A bald eagle was at the harbor entrance.

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Its head was bowed and I wasn’t patient enough to wait for its noble pose.

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I passed the home to Columbia River Kayaking.

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The harbour’s Ospreys were calling it a night.

I passed by one of the local trawlers, the nondescript F/V Alki II. The blueprints and its history are in the Library of Congress here.

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“…Alki II represents the transition from traditional wood hull gillnet boats to the more modern fiberglass hull and a change in boat building…”

I’ve discovered the internet has resources for ship spotting, such as the Enishi and the smaller boats too.

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This blackberry covered special may not be on the internet at all.

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Finally, an hour before sunset and about to head home.

The top speed of 24 mph on the phone looked awesome until I remembered that I had put the electronics in the car when I went into town for money. Oops.

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It’s more like Distance: 17.4 miles Top Speed 6.0 mph and knock an hour off the activity time.

 

 

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

in which Allan goes boating on Young’s Bay and the Lewis and Clark River

“100 Paddles! is an opportunity for people to join in a human-powered water journey. Lewis and Clark National Historical Park invites the public to travel by water into the park, similar to how the Lewis and Clark Expedition members traveled during their winter here in 1805-06.

On the day of Saturday, August 19, experienced kayakers will meet at the Astoria Recreation Center (former Astoria Yacht Club site by the Old Youngs Bay Bridge) for a 10:30 a.m., launch and group paddle across Youngs Bay into the Lewis and Clark River. Less experienced folks are encouraged to meet at Netul Landing at 10:30 a.m., and head downstream on the Lewis and Clark River. The two groups plan to meet on the Lewis and Clark River. After a flintlock gun firing and huzzah, together the groups will paddle to Netul Landing for refreshments. Participants need to bring their own kayak, canoe, paddleboard or any non-motorized watercraft and need to wear a US Coast Guard approved personal floatation device. 

100 Paddles is sponsored by the Lewis & Clark National Park Association which supports park education and interpretative activities at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.”

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The yellow line points to the ambitiously named Astoria Yacht Club and the orange indicates how far upstream I went today.

While I was figuring out what I forgot, a happy dog splashed around the boat. “He likes to go in all the boats,” his walker explained. Coincidently, I also got the same tail-wagging greeting when I returned later.

HEY! Get back here.

Waiver signing and a nice kerchief for all, as modeled by one of the Park employees.

Boat, paddle, life vest. A simple combination for a fun day ahead.

Also heading out today were some fisherman.

Getting ready while all those darn kayaks line the boat ramp.

Ten boats in this picture but I did not get a total attendance figure.

“Are you tied up?” I heard as my boat started to drift. I quickly got tied up and waited to leave.

Expedition leader, Mitch, awaiting a gather around.

We had guides in a lead, middle and trailing kayaks. He explained that it was not a race and we were all to stay together.

A water auditorium with Mitch behind the blue kayak.

Off we went

The fishing boat at the dock heading for the Columbia River.

As the flotilla spread out, Mitch sends a boat back to the rear to make sure everyone was having fun.

I unfurled a quarter of my sail at this point and it seemed to make the paddle easier.

Astoria’s Regional Airport is ahead where the Coast Guard helicopters are based.

Two of the park employees passing a water hazard. Behind is the 101 bridge from Astoria to Warrenton. These are often mudflats but the tide is a plus 6.4 feet now.

We went under the Business 101 bridge by the community of Jeffers Garden and then up the Lewis and Clark River.

On the west side, the river bank is mostly ‘wild’ and without buildings.

On the east side was Astoria Marine Construction with a large trawler pulled up for repair.

Several other boats docked.

A fellow paddler with a well done homemade kayak. We discussed kayak seaworthiness and inverted bows.

We grouped up at the entrance to a grass route parallel to the river that would take us under Fort Clatsop.

Note the tree formation to find this route again. We followed the channel upstream about a quarter mile.

Park rangers on the bank to welcome us.

Here we met with the group that had done the shorter trip downstream from Netul Landing.

“Turn down your hearing aids!” we were cautioned.

BAOOM! (but no smoke)

“Hip hip huzzah! Hip hip huzzah!”  Then we crowded up for a group picture. I had the outriggers folded in so I wouldn’t get stuck in the grass or be a road hog.

In August 2015 I visited Fort Clatsap and checked out Netul Landing. My notes are in the last part of this blog post.

We then headed north to the landing for visiting and cake.

The party strung out behind until we re-entered the main channel.

Soon I spotted the most beautiful boat. It’s a small Chinook ocean-going canoe.

The owner had made a wood mold to create the finished boat, gunnels, deck and all entirely of light fiberglass so it would never rot. He now has the molds to create more when the time comes.

It is flat bottomed and reflects a design that has evolved over thousands of years. A sweetwater, or lake canoe has evolved into a different design. A brief explanation by trailtribes.org can be found here.

Pulling out at Netul Landing.

Two landings techniques were notable. One was to accelerate into the ramp, grind off a little hull, and then step out dry. Another was to park parallel and then roll out and accept the wet. The Chinook canoe was treated more carefully.

I was privileged to help carry the canoe to the trailer.

A closer look at the home built boat I paddled with back at the river’s mouth. It has a built in wheel. When on land he just drags it around like airport luggage.

A little bit of cake was still left by the time I got there.

This is a lightweight under 40lb. canoe by ‘Advantage’

The Rangers went around asking if anyone needed a ride back to the Astoria landing to fetch their cars so they could come back and load up their boats. I didn’t know that this was an option but it worked out well for most as the wind was picking up. I can’t guarantee they’ll do a shuttle next year but it could tempting after a 5.1 mile paddle.

The literature downplayed the short trip down from Netul Landing as suitable for less experienced kayakers but it is a good place to launch to paddle the entire river. The Lewis and Clark river runs about six miles.  I headed upstream alone as it was was still only one o-clock.

The first adventure was a black creature rustling ahead behind the shrubs. After just leaving the Lewis and Clark expedition I first thought BEAR and cautiously steered for the other bank.

The river banks were otherwise quiet, grassy, non-threatening and played their part of a pleasant day out on the water.

I reached the first upstream bridge in about twenty minutes.

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Here is the bridge from google’s street view. It has a pull out if you wish to drag a boat down to the water.

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Here’s a ‘googlemap’ view of the upper Lewis and Clark river as it crosses under a couple of bridges.

Heading back downstream I dodged the pilings. I only hit one because it was hiding underwater. The flipper’s shaft bent about thirty degrees but still worked almost fine.

Back near the Netul Landing the pilings are more frequent and often made of steel.

By now the wind was gusting up to 24.2 mph mostly from varying angles ahead.  That meant much fun tacking through the pilings.

I passed and greeted an inflatable that with the aid of the wind, was easily paddling back upstream.

One of many small mini gardens growing atop the pilings.

I beached under the riverside trail at the fort and got out warmer stuff to wear. Dave and Melissa had given me a waterproof bag as a gift and it proved handy to keep my sweatshirt dry before getting it soaked later in the bay.

The Astoria column with the boatyard in the foreground.

One of the boatyard buildings as seen through a wet sail.

It was a windy and splashy trip back along the edge of Young’s Bay. With the sail mostly rolled up (reefed) the boat still felt flat and secure as it reached almost 14 mph.

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This boat has what is referred to s a ‘wet ride’.

I had invited two guests. One observed that 100 paddles sounded like about 96 too many. Group rides are how I got started but it can be a solo sport. This trip follows a historical route that led to the building of the winter encampment of Lewis and Clark in 1805-1806. I appreciated the Park staff giving us a sense of the importance of the place that I would not have noticed alone.

The other invited guest had a tight timeline. I couldn’t see not being out in the water all day if I had cleared off enough of my obligations and there was fun was to be had.

Fort Clatsop also offers three hour guided paddle tours throughout the summer where they will provide the two-person boats and equipment. The registration is done online.

Lewis and Clark River Paddle Tours

Hop in a two person watercraft and paddle along the lush riverbanks of the Lewis and Clark River. See bald eagles soar while you calmly float through history and hear a unique perspective of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.The themes of these three hour ranger-led paddles will vary and include natural and cultural topics geared for all interests.
Tours will run Thursday through Sunday during the summer. Tours will start on June 24, 2017 and run through September 3, 2017.

  • The park will provide water craft, paddles, and life jackets however, if you are a special size you may want to bring your own life jacket.

…There is more to read, you register online, and the Tour is free with park admission.

I saw one bald eagle today as I ‘calmly floated through history.’

Go to: https://www.nps.gov/lewi/planyourvisit/paddle-tours.htm for more information.

Due to a battery failure, I like the results of my phone’s MapMyTracks ap better as it shows 3.6 miles more distance.  I think the phone covered the faster return trip when the Garmin had ‘died’. Even better, the phone picked up a top speed of 13.8 mph (!!) versus the 7.9 on the Garmin. Paddling usually averages around 3 mph.

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Sunday, 30 July 2017

The original destination for today was the Niawiakum River that runs in front of Goose Point Oysters, just north of the Bay Center turn off. It’s one of three rivers accessible from Bay Center that also includes the Bone and the Palix. Here’s a map to give a general idea. The Bone River is just below Bruceport, then the larger Niawiakum River just east of Bay Center and the larger Palix River system is SE of Bay Center

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Bay Center is just across from the tip of the peninsula.

In the early 1850’s James Swan lived at the mouth of the Bone River. A trip to that site is here. He sketched and wrote extensively of the area and included this sketch of a camp he visited on the Palix.

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The cover and a sketch he includes.

The tide was low at only 1.5 feet, which meant most of Willapa Bay was mudflats.  It seems to stay that way until it rises to about 3 feet. It would be rising until dark so I planned to stick to the river channel after leaving the dredged port entrance. There is a launch in Bay Center amongst the oyster boats, next to one of the shellfish processors, but first I drove by the picturesque wreck of the R/V Hero. To the owner, it must look nightmarish. Last year it was afloat but in need of work, but now that it’s sunk, it’s going to cost more. There is a Facebook page for the R/V Hero that includes many photos of its work as an Antarctic research vessel and its demise located here.  It was built in1968.

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At Bay Center, just uphill from the dock, I ran across the Chinook Tribe’s Office.

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One of their great canoes is stored here.

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A low tide and a quiet harbor.

Near the launch is an area washed by the tide that supports Salicornia (Sea Beans). Here is a site with better ID and seven ways to eat them.

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A plentiful supply of Sea Beans. A few would be salad garnish tomorrow night.

It was a quiet launch as it was a Sunday and a low tide.

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Accidental landscaping to starboard as I left.

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Oyster farms extending out into the bay as I pick my way through the channel.

I headed for the channel marker tower to look for the Naiwaikum River and turn upstream. From the shore, the start of my adventure looked like somebody’s first-time sail trip. I put up the sail and then headed nearly straight out.  Then, if they were watching, onlookers saw me get tangled in the eel grass, beach the boat, take down the sail and slowly paddle away. I didn’t see another boat out on the water today which speaks to how remote we are.

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It’s slow going through this stuff.

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Here’s my excuse for missing the entrance to the Niawiakum on this google map. The river’s entrance was actually further downstream from the channel bouy. There was no Niawiakum that I could see.

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I chose the Palix River channel and headed upstream hoping the Niawiakum River channel would appear later.  As Rat said in The Wind in the Willows “…there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Either river would be a good day.

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The Mollusk in front of one of the processors. It was working during my visit when I blogged about the trip here.

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Older real estate with character.

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The Hero from the other side.

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The 101 bridge over the Palix.

From here the Palix splits into the North, Middle, and South. I followed the South Palix.

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This might have been the camping ground in James Swan’s book.

It was very quiet except for the birdlife.

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A house was an unusual sight so it gets a picture.

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The bank washed away and ruined this dock but even google maps doesn’t show a likely house that would have used it.

Further upstream I came to this cleared area and discovered I needed to turn around or take the mast down.

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I can see through first floor. The lack of plantings made this house look empty.

Within sight of the empty house was a low bridge. It was 3 PM, an hour and a half out from Bay Center. It would be upwind most of the way back so I turned around. I had come 5.7 miles but it ended up being 10.5 miles back. That included a lot of tacking and a short side trip up the middle branch of the Palix. I read there is a falls upstream. That trip will have to wait for another day.

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Trask Lane meanders over this bridge.

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Logging relics just east of Highway 101.

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Here’s a boat launch next to 101 on the Palix I haven’t used yet.

The wind gauge shows I’m making progress upwind (if the daggerboard is doing its job). Another sailing dingy my dad gave me would usually put me on the same shore locations at each tack, with no upwind progress. It’s made of styrofoam and sits so high off the water I think the wind just overwhelmed the daggerboard and rudder.

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A low sun, a glittering surf, and maybe a whole eight mph.

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The Hero again at higher tide with a flooded doorway

It was 5:40 and the tide is now up from the earlier 1.5 to 5.9 feet. Finding the Niawiakum would be easy now. Next time, I’ll head a bit downstream for the right channel or, just wait for a higher tide.

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The channel buoy is now surrounded by water.

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Oyster bed markers.

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Bucketing off the deck.

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A wet lens, so it must have been fun.

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