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Posts Tagged ‘Palix river’

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, 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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Thursday, 22 January 2015

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This is the third trip that was not on the local lakes. The first trip on October 5 went upriver from South Bend (located at the top of the map). The second on October 12 went up to the the Naselle River (located by the ‘d’ in Long Island).

Today the trip is from the town of Bay Center (located above at the red balloon).

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A close up of the mouth of the Palix showing the route I took and a a balloon over another boat ramp.

My goal was to go inland towards what is marked as ‘Minks Ranch’ and/or around the bay south which is the mouth of the Palix River. I stuck some lines on the map where the trip eventually took me. With the wind coming from the east, there was a bunch of back and forthing but the wind died when I wanted to use it to go back to the dock. The red balloon on this map refers to a boat launch that works well to go up the river.

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Unrestored boats at the port

The boat launch and dock has houses looking over it and a working oyster processor which makes me feel more secure about leaving the car alone. It also has a couple of artistic boats pulled up on shore like we have in Ilwaco.

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Bay Center port with the boat launch at the left and a busy oyster processing plant center.

Here’s a view of the dock and some of the fleet tied up. I could hear some workers shoveling oyster shells into bags and a couple of boats took off while I sorted things out. Anything not bagged up or not put under a hatch will get wet I have discovered. I can put a jacket behind me as it gets warmer but it will be splashed on when I go for it later.

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Orange & green oyster baskets

I saw in the commercial boats a collection of various oyster baskets or, ‘self draining weed baskets’, to a gardener such as Skyler.

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Various oyster bed markers to avoid

After paddling out to the bay there were sticks and floats to watch for while I sorted out ropes and snacks. I figured I’d  meet an oyster farmer in person if I mowed over any of their markers. When the tide was low on a previous trip I saw how shallow and sharp these beds are.

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The Goose Point Oyster plant from Bay Center

I headed across the bay to check out the  ‘Minks Ranch’ area north of Goose Point as the other bridge looked pretty far.

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Pretty splashy but easier than paddling as I headed upwind.

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Highway 101 just south of Goose Point.

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A forklift operator is checking me out too.

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Heading away after I discovering my mast would have hit the bridge.

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Flashing blue lights and an oyster bed marker on left as I approach the Palix River entrance

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A tall enough bridge for even me to clear

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Looking south under 101.

My goal was just to reach the concrete slab boat launch. I didn’t take a picture of the launch as it is about as dull as a…concrete slab. There is a blog that covers these ramps, local boating adventures and fishing advice and more. It’s at: http://www.leeroysramblings.com/boat_launch_observations.htm. For example, did you know that motorboats powering up onto a trailer can swirl the silt away at the bottom of the ramp? The next trailer that backs itself off the end of the concrete slab will drop deep and be very difficult to pull out. Here’s a sample pic. LeeRoy explains the back story on his site.

Not MY adventure

Not MY adventure ( photo from http://www.leeroysramblings.com/ )

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Approaching the Palix River boat launch.

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At the Dike Road intersection, two cows without a field.

This was probably the most memorable event of the trip and it wasn’t really that exciting. I suppose that proves that I was prepared and nothing went wrong,. Not every excursion can be a hair raising Youtube video.

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Nowhere to go and few grassy snacks.

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A bored cow and its friend and not much room to play in.

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A familiar farm on the highway to the beach.

 This is where the boat ramp turn off is looking south east.

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A view of Bay Center about 2.4 miles away

 

The wind has died, Bay Center is near the gap on the right. It’s 3 o’clock and I’m hoping to be back by 4.

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The Mollusk heading for the port.

An oyster boat left the dock so I immediately turned away from shore

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The telephoto gave me a blotchy picture of the crew checking me out.

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Back to Bay Center at 3:30.

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The Mollusk left to get more oysters after quickly unloading.

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Its little feet churning the water as a shy bufflehead duck didn’t want its picture taken

Several large flocks of Canadian geese (‘honkers’) flew overhead at a distance but there were few opportunities for wildlife pictures as I was mostly in the middle of a bay and after all, it is January.

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A heron watching the Mollusk return again after I had pulled my boat out.

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A good tide for late risers.

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A final view of Willapa Bay off the Bay Center road on the way home

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