Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cedaroak Park to Willamette Park, Kayak

Willamette River – Cedaroak park to Willamette Park.

I recommend that all young inspiring technical engineer types go into the weather prediction sciences. God knows there is a LOT of work to be done there and a lot of money to be made by someone that can do the hard stuff, like predict if it will rain tomorrow.
As it happens, Chip and I cancelled our epic overnight trip down the Multnomah channel of the Mighty Columbia river because of the not quite super storm that was predicted to roll through here on Saturday. Yes, Yes, why would a transplanted Oregon boy be afraid of a little rain, don't you have the gear? Of course I have the gear. It was the wind and possible waves on the exposed river that freaked me out. And Chip was gracious enough to let me cancel without an over abundance of abuse.
And then....... nothing. A little water. Oooops, storm now coming on Monday !!

So, we decided to do a day trip on Sunday.

We picked up Kayaks at Portland Kayak (right in front of Willamette Park) left a car there and used my Subaru to transport our boats up river (also up tide and up wind) to Cedar Oak Boat ramp (usually written as Cedaroak. But Apple red underlines that. And what could a Cedar Oak possibly be, anyway?). I got to reserve my new (and hopefully ongoing) favorite kayak, an Eddyline Journey.

From the kayak store, you just drive up the road by the river until you get far enough away for your tastes. Since we are still trying out this whole trip thing and since the weatherman was still making some nasty (and wrong) wind predictions, we chose 7 miles. (Thus Cedaroak). There is a nice 2 dock launch ramp there and just one other Subaru in the parking lot. (by the way, my little Forester did great carrying the 2 kayaks on my new roof-rack and thule stacker) We loaded up and took off.
One amusing start to the trip was a sign way up at the top of the posts that moor the floating docks. It was at least 30 feet over our heads and it read “High Water, 1996”. Explains why the huge expensive houses are set so back from the river.

The River at this point immediately starts off being ….. interesting. This must be a rocky area where the river is compressed. Not only is the current greater (perhaps a knot or so) but there are a lot of cross currents and strange upwellings that cause eddys and mini-maelstrom. The consequence is nothing drastic but in a little (mostly flatbottomed) kayak, you do find yourself gently but firmly pushed around in unexpected directions. Just don't fight it and relax. Most of the current seems to be going down river.

And no matter where you look, there is a house that you wish you could afford. Or maybe that your best friend could afford and would let you keep your kayak there; perhaps next to his yacht and float plane.

Not much traffic on the river today. A few kayaks. A stream of yachts that were so identical we thought 1 guy was circling us (how did he get back upriver so fast), and , just beyond us as she turned around, The Portland Spirit (largest boat on the river. A dinner cruise ship).

Lake Osswego Park

That would be a great Kayak Boat House.

Float Boat

The predominant wildlife was Mallard and Cormorant. Lots of those. Cormorants do make lovely pictures as they pose up on the poles, especially when you can put the sky in the background.

One nice house to comment on, we hit it just after we passed the Lake Osswego park area. It is a huge beautiful house, with another huge beautiful house attached to it and its own little Vineyard. And behind it, he has his own Railroad bridge !!! We even saw a train go by while we were waiting. So much noise!! I wonder if he knew about the train when he bought the place?

My little place on the River.

Da Train !!

At the halfway mark, we can to Elk Rock Island, where we set up a little camp for lunch. Elk Rock Island is a park with people out walking and fishing. It is really only an Island when the river is up, This time of year it is a peninsula. Back in the 30's (perhaps Prohibition?) it used to be a very hot night spot. I guess people would tool up in their boats, or perhaps walk out to the island where there was a Pavilion setup for Dancing and drinks. I was told that it was a substantial building and very famous at the time, but I could see no sign of it. Perhaps I need to explore the depths of the 100 yard wide island a little more.

The Beach on Elk Rock Island

A little Rain. No Big Deal

Our lunch View.

Continuing on down the river. When ever you pass a bridge or get close to the shore, you can tell how fast the current is running. I am glad we are not trying to go in the other direction. We could do it, but we would be doing 2 knots instead of 4. And it is calming to stop and rest on your paddle while you watch the shore slip by. Gives you a chance to take some pictures. I believe that if you want good pictures of yourself, you have to spend some time taking pictures of the other people in the group. (well, in this case it was just Chip, but we are working on adding more to the team).

The controversial construction on the Sellwood bridge is underway. When ever I see these things I wonder what we are doing, letting our infrastructure get so worn down. Don't we aspire to the works of our Grandfathers?
Construction at Selwood Bridge

We did a water takeout at Willamette Park, just because I didn't want any embarrassing pictures of me doing a Dock exit.

Total Paddle Time, around 3 hours (with an hour or so lunch).

Some things to consider: We had an outgoing tide. It is unclear if an incoming tide would have changed the current. It has rained a bit lately. The river was up, but my no means high. I could see how a spring flood could make some things much more exciting. I can also see how it could be pretty glorious on a nice summer day. There are put-ins listed up and down the river at various mile marks. I like the idea of leaving a car at either end of your trip and traveling mainly downriver.

(KAYAK UPDATE: I ordered a Journey)

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