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Day: September 4, 2016

Paddling and Planning

September 4

Several mule deer went trooping by my camp first thing this morning. “What was I doing camping on their trail?” they seemed to be thinking.

The valley had widened out since a couple of days ago, at least temporarily. The wind varied today from hour to hour. For a while it was breezy, then the water was quite smooth, smooth enough so that I noticed dozens of honey bees scattered on the water over a mile or so of paddling. I plucked a few out of the water as I passed. One by one they flew away as they dried out. How had they ended up in the water?

There were some barges, but only two or three. There were a few fishing boats out as well.


Five of the next seven days look like strong headwinds, with the other two being light headwinds. I was slightly stressed today. Near the end of a big expedition anything that slows you down, things beyond your control, tend to be stressors.

I am planning to walk at least the last day of the trip to avoid paddling the mouth of the Columbia which can have dangerous waters. I was thinking today about starting walking earlier than that. I was even thinking about if it would make sense to stash the boat and walk from somewhere near here.

I’d originally wanted to finish by mid-October,  so I’ve got plenty of time to play it by ear.

I paddled over to the little town of Arlington. There was a small store there where I resupplied.  I topped off all my water bottles in town, too. A sign said it was the birthplace of Doc Severinsen! A rainstorm was threatening and the wind was blowing pretty good. Back at the boat there were some big whitecaps. I sat at a picnic table where I noticed my sunshade for my cap was missing. Did it blow away when I set my pack down at the store?

I walked all the way back to the store and found the sunshade blown down the street. Nearby was a little restaurant so I ate a late lunch. Nice bonus!

When I got back to the boat it had calmed, but it got a little rough again after I launched. My shore paralleled a rocky bluff and a railroad track again, with big rip-rap all along the river. About seven I saw a bridge under the railroad track and used it to escape the big waves and find a camping spot. I managed to do about 30 miles today.

Clark: October 20th Sunday 1805… makeing from the Stard. Side and nearly Chokeing the river up entirely with hugh black rocks… On the upper part of this Island we discovered an Indian vault) our curiosity induced us to examine the methot those nativs practicd in diposeing the dead, the Vaut was made by broad poads and pieces of Canoes leaning on a ridge pole which was Suported by 2 forks Set in the ground Six feet in hight in an easterly and westerly direction and about 60 feet in length, and 12 feet wide, in it I observed great numbers of humane bones of every description perticularly in a pile near the Center of the vault, on the East End 21 Scul bomes forming a circle on Mats-; in the Westerley part of the Vault appeared to be appropriated for those of more resent death, as many of the bodies of the deceased raped up in leather robes lay on board covered with mats, &c we observed, independant of the canoes which Served as a Covering, fishing nets of various kinds, Baskets of different Sizes, wooden boles, robes Skins, trenchers, and various Kind of trinkets, in and Suspended on the ends of the pieces forming the vault; we also Saw the Skeletons of Several Horses at the vault 

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

40 Mile Day

September 3

I carried all my gear to the river in one trip. Waves were still lapping the rip-rap so it was a challenge loading the boat.

It was windier than I’d expected, a solid headwind with enough waves to splash over the bow occasionally.

After a few hours I got cell coverage. I walked through the willows dodging spider webs with unusually big spiders. I sat on a rock and updated my journal. I’d gotten a couple more emails asking about when I’d get to a certain place ahead. Those are really tough questions. Too many variables I don’t control with wind being the big one.

Big Spider

At noon I arrived at McNary Dam. I’d just got the cart on the kayak and pulled it out of the water when Chris Hansen drove up. He’d brought a sock I’d overlooked in his washing machine along with some burgers and drinking water. Thanks Chris!

It was an easy pull to the put-in point downstream. We shook hands and I was off again.

There were a number of fishing boats out this Labor Day weekend, and I saw an unusual sight: two jet skis going at less than wide open!

I’d hoped to do 40 miles but a steady headwind was making it unlikely. And contrary to what one might think, there’d been virtually no current to help me since Lewiston, due to the dams.

Finally at about 4 the wind let up. A barge was coming up from behind me. Unlike the Mississippi where the shipping channel is clearly marked, I had trouble identifying the channel. I paddled over near an island as the barges passed. The island was a favorite of mule deer, many fed along the shore amongst the geese.

The sunset was both orange and pinkish red. A mountain appeared ahead, Mt Hood I think. It was a thrill to see one of the Cascades.

Columbia River Sunset

It was nearly dark when I reached the treeline at 40 miles. I pulled the boat into the reeds and waded ashore, soon finding a decent campsite.  By headlamp I waded back out through the reeds to my boat, which I tied to a fallen tree, then set up my tent.

It was a luxury to crawl into my warm, dry bag.

Clark: October 19th Saturday 1805… I… entered a lodge which was the nearest to me found 32 persons men, women and a few children Setting permiscuesly in the Lodg, in the greatest agutation, Some crying and ringing there hands, others hanging their heads. I gave my hand to them all and made Signs of my friendly dispotion and offered the men my pipe to Smok and distributed a fiew Small articles which I had in my pockets,-this measure passified those distressed people verry much,They said we came from the clouds &c &c and were not men &c. &c. this time Capt. Lewis came down with the Canoes rear in which the Indian, as Soon as they Saw the Squar wife of the interperters they pointed to her… they imediately all came out and appeared to assume new life, the sight of This Indian woman, wife to one of our interprs. confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter…

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

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