Tuesday, July 23, 2013

CedarOak and Up to the Clackamas

CedarOak and Up River.

Here is a nice little paddle. We started at the public (and free) boat ramp at CedarOak Park on the West Bank of the Willamette, just south of Portland. This time of year the river is low water and warm and this section of the Willamette is teaming with speed boats, Jet Skis, and Bikinis. My Partner and I were looking mighty low tech in our people powered boats, but I think people were still amazed to see us out in all of the chop that was being stirred up by the stink pots.

View CedarOaks to Clackamas River in a larger map

Just up river (South) of the CedarOaks boat ramp is a little lagoon where lots of people park their boats and catch some rays. We tooled up that way to see what was what. Some nice houses on one side and this peninsula on the other. We ran into a mommy duck with her like 7 very friendly ducklings. Never have seen ducks that let you coast up to them like these guys did. We hit a dead end this time, but I think that during the rainy season (or maybe just high tide) the peninsula is an island and we could have paddled through.

Back out in the main channel the surf was up. There were 10 or 20 ski boats tooling back and forth in that area. Most of them towing some sort of raft toy with a few kids on it. They made lots of waves and wake. It was a noisy America only play area sort of thing, but good wave practice and sort of fun once you got into it. My partner commented that I was very quiet today. I was sort of low energy. So I flipped over. Nothing like cold water and a little rescue practice to wake people up and get the blood flowing. After she emptied my boat and got me back in she jumped out too, just to cool off.

Now we were ready for some fun. So we crossed the channel to the East side. Had to cross past a bunch of boats and I took two waves over the bow that actually put liters of water into Journey. What fun. We now were opposite a beach and boat ramp. There were maybe 20 trucks with trailers parked out on the rocks and sand. They all had jet ski's they were putting in the water. Lots of Jet skis around. We paddled up through them getting tossed around a lot.

My partner and I were arguing about the inlet I could see up ahead. I thought it must be the Clackamas, but she said that the Clackamas was near the 405 bridge. She knew, she used to go swimming there. We paddled up another hundred yards to find that we were both right. There was the 405 bridge and sure enough, there was the Clackamas river.

The confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette is a funny place. Lots of very white Oregonians on the beach and out in the 2 foot deep water. Many sporting tatoos and cigarettes. Then a few $50K boats rafted together in the middle of the little channel, evidently waiting for their jet skis to come back. All swimming all around it are hundreds of water foul. Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, one real goose....a barnyard escapee?

The Clackamas, as it dumps into the Willamette, is a running river. That is, you can see the current and the water looks something like you would expect a mountain river to look. Not like the Willamette, which is slow, dark, and deep. So as we paddled up the Clackamas, we were quickly getting into some current. Right in front of us, just a couple of hundred yards from the confluence, we met up with a fun set of rapids. There was a deep fast area over against the far side and then a large wide area where the water was sort of just spilling over the rocks. We got out here and pulled our boats through the shallows to the nice pool right above the rapids. From here we could see the old railroad bridge. We watched some rafters coming slowly down river and running the rapids. At this point my partner and I were planning on running the rapids ourselves, but I was just as rapidly talking myself out of it. She wanted to run them wearing our skirts to keep the water out. I was thinking that if we tipped over we would not be able to get out quickly and would be banging our heads on the rocks as we zipped down the channel. Not fun sounding. We opted for just eating our lunch on the beach and then portaging back. We got a little fast water work but not what we were originally thinking. I need to find out what a long boat would do in water current conditions like that. I am thinking that it would really want to turn sideways.

Get someone young and strong to carry your boat.
Oh, and Cute.

That white is the fall line. It is more impressive floating up to it. But not much

We we got back to the slow water near the confluence we had a surprise. The little rock shoal that had been in the middle of the river on the way up was Gone! Submerged ! In just an hour the tide must have come in and covered that little outcrop. I had no idea that we were still that tidal this far up river from the ocean. I guess that means that both the Clackamas and the willamette are tidal up to their first falls.

On the way back my partner wanted to cross right over to the west bank of the willamette and avoid all of the nonsense with the jet ski people and their boat ramp. We did that, but it didn't save us too much nonsense. The motor boats, and the Willamette Jet Boats were out in force and we got plenty of big waves. Still, good practice. And good fun if you are ready for it.

So Fast it was blurry.

Jet Boat does a splash Spin for my Partner.

We got back to the boat ramp in good order and then did some rolling practice. I really need to get some lessons in how to roll. Right now I can only do the part where you turn upside down. I think I also need to rig some sort of easy outrigger. Perhaps the paddle float thing on a spare paddle and attached somehow so I don't have to hold it. Hmmmmmm.

This was a fairly exciting and people filled paddle. Very much the american summer urban adventure. So cool to have such a nice river running through the middle of your city.

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