Monday, September 17, 2007

Columbia River Water Trail - Trip

This is a multi-part posting related to the paddle we just did down the Columbia River Water Trail. The parts are:

Part 1 - Basics of the trip
Part 2 - the Trip
Part 3 - Animals seen
Part 4 - Resources for others interested in this trip
Part 5 - Some pics of me that Brian took


Part 2 - The Trip:
We started the trip a bit late, as my car had some problems on the way up. That was resolved and we drove to Oregon, arriving late in the evening. Stayed at a hotel and then went to the launch ramp the next morning (after 2 wrong turns), getting there a half hour late (not a great start to the trip).

We loaded the boats, which was a challenge. There is a limited amount of space in the boats, and we made the best of it. This is a picture into Sylvia's rear hatch.

We finally launched at 1 or 2, and enjoyed a strong (5 mph) current heading the direction we wanted to go. This allowed us to complete about 10 miles in the first afternoon, keeping us on schedule for our trip. The currents were amazingly strong, coming from San Francisco where currents down a stream don't really exist (just tides). Here, the tides don't play that much of a part until you get close to the ocean.

This process continued for the first few days - us padding for a few hours and covering a lot of ground due to the current. We would then stop, set up camp, relax and cook dinner.

The campsites were almost all on beaches. Some were semi-developed, and had fire rings, toilets, and/or picnic tables. Others were undeveloped. All were very nice.

The weather was very good for us. We had rain one night (while we slept) and some drizzle the next day, but other than that it was sunny for the first week. The last few days, once we got close to the coast, were foggy. And the winds mostly did not come up.

We did eat well during the trip. The first few nights we had fresh foods. Then after that, we did our best with dried foods (like rice and pasta) and canned foods. We did get lucky one day when Brian was given a large, fresh salmon fillet from a fisherman he helped. And we also found plenty of ripe blackberries just about everywhere we went.

Similar to tides not playing as much of a part, same with salt water. I couldn't taste any salt in the water until our last day of paddling - so fresh until 10 or 15 miles from the ocean. This surprised me, as in the SF Bay Area, salt reaches more than 50 miles.

Tides may not have played much of a part, but ships do. There is a major shipping channel in the river, and we need to make sure we are out of the way of the tugs with barges and open going ships.

The photos shown here, plus more photos and video clips, can be seen

And if you have software that can work with .GPX files from GPSs, you can download our track here. Final stats were 174.7 miles, moving time of 52h 32m 29s, average speed of 3.3 mph, and max speed of 11 mph (I don't believe this one, though I wouldn't be surprised to see an 8 or 9).

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