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Posts Tagged ‘Wallicut River’

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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