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.

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