Monday, May 27, 2013

Flowers From Tillamook

Flowers From Tillamook

I went on a nice rainy hike up the Elk Creek trail this morning. This is one of my favorite exercise hikes. It is medium steep, mainly rock (so not that muddy or slippery) and can reward with some nice views if you make it the 5 miles to the very top. But today I was just working up a sweat on the very green and drizzly slope. I was using a hiking umbrella, not my usual gear. It worked out pretty well, it keeps you dry, at least in moderate rain, without getting you so overheated that you are drenched in sweat. But then my legs were soaking wet, not from the rain but from the water on the Thimble Berry leaves that were crawling over the trail in gay perfusion. (At last, I have completed my life goal of using the term “gay perfusion” in an international publication)

View Elk Creek Workout in a larger map

There were a lot of little spring wild flowers out and I thought I would share them with you instead of telling you local history. One of the nice things about flowers is you can learn their names and stop to admire them while hiking. This gives your fellow hikers the impression that you are a learned amateur botanist, or perhaps just someone that knows everything, when in truth you are using the flower admiring and picture taking to catch your breath whilst slugging up that damn hill.

Enjoy: (oh, and I am guessing at some of these names)


These looked more orange in person

Elk Creek
Huckleberry on Stump

False Lily of the Valley (?)

Thimble Berry

Salmon Berry
Common Monkeyflower

Indian Paint Brush

Maidenhair Fern


Couldn't find this one in my book. Please leave a comment if you know.

My little waterfall. That log is new this season. Usually has drinking water until August.

The trail gets crowded by Alder
a protected lunch nook

Sword Fern

False Solomon's Seal (why is everything false?)

Brush and Sword

The Rocky Hills over Elk Creek.

Cute Tiny Fern (CTF)


Wild Rose

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nehalem River to Aldervale

Nehalem River to Aldervale

This is actually a kayak of the North Fork of the Nehalem River. This isn't the one that my train line follows. Which means I have another paddle to do in the future !!

View Nehalem River to Alderdale in a larger map

This was a dual Meetup trip. Half the group went up river to explore, half went down river to find the ocean and play in the surf (or as I call it “die”). I elected to take the up river jaunt. We up-river-ers met at the public boat dock in the little town of Nehalem (pop. 371). I like this town because of the amount of schtick per square foot. It is very close to Nehalem Bay State beach, a big summer camping destination, so it has a lot of things to cater to people passing through. There is a nice little mom and pop grocery where you can get a sandwhich, beer, and aluminum foil. There is a antique's store that more resembles a yard sale. A drive-up coffe place. A store that seems to specialize in “Tarps, Ropes, and Tie Downs” (I bet they do a brisk buisness out there on the rainy coast or Oregon). There is also a public bathroom and a little public dock. No ramp. Just a tie up or a place to launch boats that you can carry down the foot ramp. Hey, I just happen to have a boat like that on the top of my car!! Let's try it out.


We pushed out from the dock around 10:45. The water was glassy. The wind was still. The tide was on the make. We had a perfectly lovely pre-noon paddle just floating in land and enjoying the quiet of the day. These kind of trips make it easy to move around the pod and meet and greet other kayakers and hear their stories. This section of the Nehalem is tidal. Lots of old dead trees have floated downstream and the water just sort of winds lazily around. The banks are high and we didn't have much of a view except of the grass and mud.

At one point some of the local cheese makers (AKA: Cows) came over to give us a stare. They were very inquisitive as long as no one made a sudden move and freak them out. I was expecting to see a lot of birds, but we really didn't see many. A few Osprey. A Kingfisher. Some little tweeter birds.

Everyone has a red Tsunami except me.

Cow prowling the Veldt

We passed several little “by the water” communities. One was built up of these little camp trailers. They appear to be travel trailers or 1-wide's that have been framed over by a carpenter to look like little cabins. Very pretty little things. And sort of funny to see lined up 20 at a time.

Little pre-fab community

This was a longish paddle and our arms and legs were getting strained by the time we found the boat ramp at Aldervale. Not much of a ramp, just a road going into the water. At the top there is what might be a parking lot. At least the brass was mowed. While we ate lunch the owner of the nearby house came over. I thought he was going to chase us off, but no, he was just coming over to introduce himself (Dave), say hi and tell us the history of the area. Turns out that the location is called “Aldervale” not because of the Alder trees (my guess) but because of the old barn on the property that used to the “Aldervale Cheese Factory”, one of the original Tillamook cheese making locations. Personally I still think that the Alder trees in the area might have had something to do with it. He also warned us that the wind was going to be picking up soon and would be blowing on our nose all he way back to Nehalem. (He was right. I suspect witchcraft).

The Bustling Boat Ramp at Aldervale

So with that in mind we got back in our kayak's and took off. I was having a particularly bad time of my entries and exits today. I like to enter and exit in shallow flat water close to the shore. But I didn't get those today. Even at the boat ramp, the lay of the ground was rather steep, which means if you boat is floating, you are standing in knee deep water, which makes my usual sit down entry harder and tipier than usual. Fortunately one of my kayaking buddies was there to help me out. We always help each other out. Well, unless you are the last to get into your boat. I wonder what ever happened to that guy.....

Back down the river we go. The tide was super high by now, with many live tree branches showing green leaves under the water on the sides of the river. Our Pod lead wanted to go exploring one of the side canals and so I followed down a tree overgrown area and we paddled back a few hundred yards till it bottomed out at a little manicured lawn. I am thinking beaver.


The Secret Way

There be Elves about, I am thinking. And Skunk Cabbage.

Back to the main channel, and we started getting that wind that the weather witch of Aldervale had predicted using his eldritch spells and special links to the spirits of Nehalem. The river kicked up a bit and we had some swell to play with. I may have taken a few small waves over my bow. When you have to paddle into the wind the work gets a lot harder. I don't think you go much slower, but you have to push more to got he same speed and you can't glide and relax anymore. So we pushed over to the north side of the river, tried to stay out of the wind, and paddled harder.

So we were glad to get back to the dock. I had brought my little bilge pump I have been trying to design and had worn my dry suit, so I flipped over and activated the pump. I have a little film I made from the bow. Not sure I will attach it. The main thing you see is the absolute look of horror on my face when something grabs my leg (turned out to be my paddle). Bilge pump is still not reliable enough to be able to use in a non-test situation. I need to think more. I may have to bite the bullet and drill some holes in poor Journey.

Can I stick a video here? Will Google charge me extra?

Afterwards we met up with the surf group and went to a very nice little restaurant called the Big Wave Cafe in Little Apple (oh, sorry, I think the town goes by the Spanish name: Manzanita). I had a delicious plate of Salmon Fajitas and some Marion-berry pie with Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice-cream. YUM.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

North Fork Reservoir, Clackamas River.

North Fork Reservoir, Clackamas River.

I have never been on the Clackamas river before. I have seen it from the road and even boated past the mouth while on the Willamette, but never actually been on the river. Come to find out, it is a great river for swimming, boating, and fishing. Amongst other things, it is much cleaner than the Columbia or the Willamette. It is also very cold.

View North Fork Lake Kayak in a larger map
On this particular perfect Sunny Saturday afternoon I set out with two new kayaking friends to have some fun in the North Fork Reservoir. This is a lake made by a small hydro-electric dam, The North Fork facility, which generates enough electricity to power more than 4,500 homes, went into operation in 1958. The project created a 331-acre lake, with which PGE controls river flows at North Fork, Faraday and River Mill” (From PGE page)

There are a couple of public places to put in and one private launch area. The private place was closed, so we went to a little side road right up at near where the river dumps into the lake, emptied our cars there and then parked along the road. Not a lot of parking there, I am betting it is hard to find a legal place during the summer. But it was only a 100 foot portage down a paved road to the water and it was easy to launch from there.

We first headed up stream. The South side of the lake is sheer too and I found a pretty little lily that looks like an avalanche lily, but the location and time of year is a little wrong for that. Take a look at the picture and let me know what you think. Plenty of beaver sign over in that part of the lake also.


Next we headed up the steadily strengthening current till we got to the actual flow of the river. A few little white rapids were present. When we just didn't feel like fighting the current anymore, we turned and ran quickly down stream. Back past our put-in and down to the very slow moving and deeper waters. Lot's of fish to be seen. And many aquatic foul. We saw quite a few Canada Geese and Common Merganser ducks.

A mile or so down the lake and there is a place where the road bridges a side finger of the lake and there is this cool large culvert that you can easily paddle a kayak through. Hell, you could motor a small fishing boat through. On the other side is a shallow protected area of the lake. Perfect for swimming and fishing and practicing rolling our kayaks.

The two lovely ladies I was with are much better kayakers than I (another good reason to hang around with them) and they changed into wet suits and practiced doing rolls. I have to learn how to do that. If you can't roll, you have to do a wet exit and self rescue. I was in a dry suit and I was practicing that. I had also brought along this little battery powered bilge pump I have rigged up. I am trying to figure out a good way to connect it up to my kayak without having to drill any holes in my poor Journey.

Now if I can just get my feet in.

I am glad I wore the Drysuit. The water was much too cold to be spending any extended time in it. My partners were very cold after a couple of rolls and we soon were all sitting up on the banks taking in some sun and having a little meal. One of the nice things about a kayak trip is that it is pretty easy to bring a lot of supplies with you. Fortunately for the cold ladies, this was an incredibly beautiful spring day. Temperature was over 80 and not a cloud in the sky. This is the type of weather where people die in Oregon because they dive from the hot bank into the cold water and pretty much die from shock. There are signs to that effect posted in many swim holes.

We left our little Thistle and Blackberry encrusted beach just as the sun dipped down below the far tree line. A very hot wind was picking up but the other side of the tunnel was not churned up (as it often is in the early evening). We had a very pleasant paddle back. On the way we passed a 10 foot or so deep area where we could see to the bottom, there were a lot of fish down there. I am thinking trout. (PGE says they stock the lake with Rainbow). Most over a foot long. If I had had a reel I could have caught us dinner.
Still at the close of the day

As it was, we loaded our stuff back on the cars and drove into Estacada for a pleasant dinner with a view of the river. All of the specials for the evening were mexican dishes, which seemed strange to me until my paddle friends reminded me that it was Cinco De Mayo.