The other day we tried stand up paddle boarding. The temperature was mild, it was cloudy, and wind was fairly constant, creating a little chop on the water. Add to those conditions our novice nature, and the standing up part was more difficult than I imagined. Did I mention Jackie Chan came with us? He started on Denise’s larger board, but when we got far apart at one point, he jumped off and tried to swim to me. Keystone Kops complications ensued. Luckily, all ended well, and I got more confident standing by the time we finished. I will happily try this again, preferably when it’s sunny and calm. Photo courtesy of Jeff Briley at Cascadia SUP. He rents locally in Portland if people are interested. Now I’m off to a hike in the sun.
Contrary to popular belief, I enjoy many pursuits besides hiking. Many of them involve creativity, eating, or nature. So it was that my lovely wife and I took out our new kayak the other day for a quick spin. It is a Swedish kayak that comes in three pieces which ratchet together. This means we can stuff the pieces in the back of a modest-sized vehicle or easily carry them down a path to the river. (The modular nature of the boat is also crucial for ease of storage). With all three pieces assembled, it’s good for two people (and a dog), while if you take out the middle piece, it works for one person. The trial run was on a gorgeous day in the Willamette Valley. We paddled upstream to Elk Rock Island, where we debarked and played around for bit on a beach. An osprey soared over the channel, and I longed to see it dive for a fish, but it was not to be. On the return leg, we passed a large sightseeing boat, the Portland Spirit, and we were concerned about its wake after ski boats had rocked us a tad, but because of its relatively slow speed, we were fine. I’m looking forward to more kayaking adventures in the future. Time for sunscreen and flotation devices!
Ross Island sits in the middle of a river in the middle of the largest city in Oregon. Knowing a company has long dredged the island for sand and gravel, I’d never before considered it as an outdoor adventure destination. Yet walking part of its shore after a short kayak trip, I found plenty picturesque scenery evoking 19th century landscape artists. Paddling from Sellwood Park in our inflatable kayak did not take us too long, but onshore, it quickly assumed the guise of an older, more natural world. We opted to leave the kayak and walk around the eastern short, not understanding how large the island is, and we were wearing only water shoes on our feet.
After rounding a corner, we navigated among exposed gravelly shoals along a channel between Ross Island and East Island. In a couple months, the water level will likely preclude walking there. As it was, the shallow water and gravel made for unique walking. Eventually, we passed a few boats anchored in the deeper parts of the channel. They appeared to be residential in nature. Someone called out about needing to go shopping. I wondered how they survived long term.
Meanwhile, paddle-boarders and kayakers meandered along the channel toward the point at which Ross Island opens into a large bay where the dredging still occurs. There is much industrial machinery on the east side of the bay. We tried to find a path into the heart of the island to cut back to our staring point but it was too brushy. There were walls of blackberry bushes
twenty feet high. Truly, this was a good little adventure. Next time, we will kayak further up the west side and check that out. Our kayak trip upstream was a little tougher, especially because we had developed a slow leak in the kayak. I’d brought the pump and had to keep re-inflating. That effort added to the adventure, but we were glad to be done.