Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Around Ross Island

Around Ross Island

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It is nice to have a couple of easy local hikes and paddles in your hip pocket for those days where you just HAVE to get out, but you don't really have the time or will to make a major affair of the entire thing.

I guess you could argue that anytime you have to put a rack and kayak on the top of your car, you have something bordering on a major affair, but today, at least, I had the added incentive that my new spray skirt was in at Portland Kayak and I needed to pick that up (oh, and a waterproof box for my valuables).

Portland Kayak  is where I bought Journey and much of my other gear. Annie, Mike, and John are a nice crew and they usually remember my name, so I like to visit. They also have the nicest selection of high end kayaks for sale and demo that I have seen in the area. They have a shop right next to Willamette park across the river from Ross Island. So I stopped by for my spray skirt (oh, and a waterproof box) and then I drove the 2 blocks to the landing. This park has a 1$ an hour parking fee, but if you want over 3 hours it is 6 hours for the day. Go figure. At least the machine takes plastic.

The day was trying to decide whether to be dark or sunny. I could see dark clouds and blue sky couming in from both directions. But I was here, so I carted my boat down to the shore and set out. I like to paddle quickly across the bulk of the river to the side channel and then enjoy the beautiful little floating houses that sit right in that corner of the river.

I guess recent changes in the rules have made the East side of Ross Island a no wake zone. This means that pretty much all of the power boats stay away from that side. This must be a new thing because I remember the willamette jet boats taking my son and I up inside the bay of Ross Island one time, and they sure didn't do no wake that entire distance.

I am going counter clockwise around the island, and I am pretty much alone on the water. I see a lot of bikers out, though, cycling their way along the bike route that is up high on the bank on the East side. I wave, but no one waves back. Darn stuck-up bikers.

Lot's of old construction detritus along the banks of the Willamette. Remains of old docks and piers, abandoned boat ramps. Even abandoned boats. Some very large water pipes, but nothing coming out. Sewer overflow? Charming.

I didn't go into the bay of Ross Island this time around. Ross Island is an old rock quary and much of the island has been hauled away over the years. The owner has been trying to give the place to the city for a while, but I guess there are a lot of problems, like he wants to the city to assume unknown cleanup costs. Anyway, the bay in the middle is where they island has been dug up and carted away, such that the sides of the island are all pretty much thin strands. Still a lot of excavation equipment setting out there and I presume they are still in operation.


As I turn the corner on the North end of the island, the skyline of Portland opens up. It is a pretty city, lots of bridges and more and more glass buildings going up. Many new tall condos. And there is the new Light Rail and Pedestrian bridge. Should be a nice looking suspension bridge when it is done. It will complete the loop around the inner city and also prove light rail out to Milwaukee.

And What is this? Someone has been doing some very extreme tagging. Lemur Creep Indeed !!

The wind starts to blow up as I round the turn and head back up river. Some ripples on the water. And here comes Portland Spirit, the biggest boat on the river. You can take a lunch or Dinner cruise up the river. I think it comes close to the falls at Oregon City during high water. Right now it just makes some additional ripples for me.

After she passes I decide to head over the city side, so if the wind blows up I can always bail and walk back to my car. There are a few yacht clubs over on that side. I see some people putting sailboats into the water. They probably read the weather reports. I should really do that. As is, I power my way back to the landing getting back to park at just about 1 hour and 15 minutes paddle time. I think I spent longer getting the boat on and off my Subaru !!

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