Cabins at The Cove Palisades at Lake Billy Chinook 2012

13 11 2012

13 friends rented all three cabins at The Cove Palisades State Park on Lake Billy Chinook the weekend of November 10-11!

The Cove Palisades State Park closes in October but its cabins are available for rent all winter long. The cabins feature a living room with kitchenette and futon and a rear bedroom. Heated and with running water and with lovely views, they each sleep five. One can paddle the lovely canyons of Lake Billy Chinook from then until winter sets in.

Why go? For us human-powered recreation junkies, the thought of summer on the lake makes us cringe. Party boats, wave runners and speed boats ply the lake, their noisy exhausts reverberating off the canyon walls. There are over 100 boat slips at this marina alone! But once closed, the lake is very pretty in its quiet solitude. Further, if you reserve all the cabins, you can have the lake just for you and your friends!

I’m a happy camper with my morning cup of Joe!

This weekend, we drove over snowy Government Camp pass – in fact it was snowing on and off the entire way to the destination. Laura and I had made plans for Friday dinner – we’d grill steak on the cabin’s propane grill, and enjoy baked potatoes and salad as well as grilled veggies. These turned out delicious!

Later, Jessie, Mike and Joel, our cabin-mates for this weekend, showed up. Then we saw April and Jim. I drifted off to sleep – and yes Laura and I were up first in the morning.

Laura and Jessie by the fire.

The cabins share a five-foot diameter fire pit with a lake view. Saturday morning, we shared a fire to warm us up and had a breakfast. Jim and I each brought bins of wood.

As the sun rose and began to warm up the area a bit, Jessie, myself, Mike and Joel gazed upon the lake.

Although gray early on, it was to be a beauty of a day!

Soon it was time to paddle. Thirteen paddlers. Rod, Jim D., Jim H., Jessie, Joel, Laura, Becky, Bob, Andrea, Kristi, April, Mike and George. Getting a group of that size going doesn’t always happen in a snap.

Andrea and April almost ready…but some cars are still on roof racks!

Laura and I get our boats down to the dock early,
and she is ready to go. But as I look back toward the parking area, there are lots of kayaks remaining on roof racks! It’s going to be a while.

Last to go are Kristi and George – so Mike and I help things along by carrying their boats down to the docks.

Today is Becky’s first paddle! So we pay extra attention to her needs.

Jessie lends a hand at the dock, stabilizing Becky’s boat, which she rented from Portland State University’s Outdoor Program.

The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid 40’s and light winds, less than 10 mph. Once on the water the sun comes out and I began to believe I was over dressed! I didn’t bring a baseball hat, figuring it was too chilly. Lucky for me Kristi loaned me a sun hat she brought along.

The dominant features of Lake Billy Chinook are sky and canyon walls. The sun’s arc across the sky changes the glow and colors along the walls.

Jim D. about to head into Crooked River Canyon.

I’m not a geologist, though I took Geology 101 in college. What I can say is that examining these canyon walls tells a story. It is a story of violent volcanic activity taking place over millions of years. Layer upon layer of rocks and ash reveal the episodes. Basalt columns formed as the rocks cooled – some dozens of feet thick. Other layers are softer – ash from distant eruptions. Rain and thermal warming/cooling cracked the structures, sending rocks, sand and boulders down the sides.

We search for a lunch spot. One drawback of this lake is the few sandy takeouts. Mostly the drop off from lake shore goes straight down. We find a narrow area to disembark, but most of us just take lunch in our boats.

During lunch we see a potential change in weather dark clouds back toward the cabins, so most of us head back. But Bob, Jim D., George and April continue upstream.

Once back on shore, we retreat to our cabins for snacks, naps and getting ready for dinner.

It’s not long before dark! Tonight we have a great party by the fire pit. No shortage of firewood! The stars are out! It’s dark enough to easily spot the Little Dipper and the North Star. The Milky Way glides overhead.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!





2011 Clackamas River Cleanup presented by We Love Clean Rivers!

20 09 2011

All photos by Mark Gamba.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the 9th annual Down the River Cleanup on the Clackamas River took place. Organized by We Love Clean Rivers, the event mobilizes an array of groups in a collaborative effort to clean 15 miles of the Clackamas River. I’m on the board of directors.

With a Staj Pace as our new event coordinator, new branding initiative completed including logo, new website, stationery, etc., we hit the ball out of the park this year! Participation was up over 60% with a record 421 registered volunteers. We also removed record amounts of trash from the river – 3.4 tons!

We had LOTS of FUN! Folks met up at Barton Park before 9:00 a.m. for coffee and bagels, registered, then organized into 15 pods (each cleaning one river mile), and after safety briefings, set off to clean the river.

Pod pre-launch briefing

Pods are made up of kayaks, drift boats, rafts, and some divers. It was a HOT day, over 90 degrees. I saw more red neck flotillas of inflatable mattresses and beer coolers going on the river than ever.

Cleaning in the river means collaboration amongst different recreational groups. Divers go below. Snorkelers are utilized. And bank-based cleaning is performed, too!

The emphasis is all about fun. Participants set off in a festive mood. Kids are definitely part of the collective cleanup muscle!

Youngsters taking ownership

Each pod rides the river to its assigned section and begins to clean.

Some rafts or drift boats are designated “garbage scows,” and folks bring trash to them. Some become quite laden with tires or metal objects.

By far the most numerous items are beverage cans. There is no question that cans are being dumped by river runners into the river.

Just look at this dumpster!

Holy Garbage!

The garbage is sorted by kids and recyclers. Further, it is picked over by artists, who will convert some into art or jewelry. This stuff will be sold at the RiPPLe PDX event on October 6th!

The day is book ended at the conclusion by a party/picnic celebration! Participants enjoyed music, a catered, organic picnic, three bands, Sierra Nevada beer, and the chance to win outdoor gear at the silent auction!

Nice job everyone! THANK YOU!

We enjoyed some really upbeat music!!!

60 feet of deliecious catered food!





Lumpy Waters Symposium 2010 Sunday – Three Arch Rocks

25 10 2010

OK Sunday morning at Lumpy Waters Symposium I was feeling the effects of three days on the Oregon coast. Definitely a bit worn out.

Badge of honor-dry suit rash from NRS and Kokatat...1 per day

And showing the effects of a tight fitting neck gasket! Gotta do something about that.

I was scheduled to do a Three Arch Rocks tour, and I knew several paddlers had to be rescued there Saturday and one guy threw up seasick. On the other hand the weather had calmed somewhat. But I just had to be there because two of the instructors would be Leon Somme and Shawna Franklin of Body Boat Blade! They are two of the best instructors in the country and I couldn’t miss a chance at experiencing instruction with them! And Mark Whittaker of Columbia River Kayak School was also teaching. In fact, Rob Avery of Valley Sea Kayaks and Karl Cohagen of Kokatat were paddling.

Coaches Leon, Shawna, Rob and John

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge is a really special place. It’s an Oregon landmark. Home to cormorants and gulls, it’s also a nesting site for tufted puffins, storm petrels, common murres, and pigeon guillemot.

It’s also a pupping site for the 2,000 lb stellar sea lion. It’s rare to get close to the rocks, because Federal regulations prohibit watercraft from coming within 500 ft of the rocks from May 1st to September 15th – the time when it’s calmest!

It was spectacular weather! As dawn broke frost covered grass and windshields. But the day was to warm to near 70 degrees! At breakfast everyone was talking about how crazy incredible the weekend’s weather was turning out! THREE days in a row of clear, pleasant weather in OCTOBER on the Oregon Coast? And, no fog whatsoever! WOW. It’s so unlikely especially as those of us who were trying to practice the weeks before the event kept finding the coastal conditions big – swells often over 10 ft and smOur destination comes into view!all craft warnings. We couldn’t get over our good fortune!

We headed to Oceanside, about 30 minute drive north. The route winding along the coast revealed vista after vista of fabulous headlands and gentle seas! Here’s what I saw as I neared the town.

The Three Arch Rocks tour had 24 students signed up. So it was split into three classes, and I got Shawna and Mark Whittaker! I was so excited not only to watch Shawna paddle, but to experience how she teaches.

Yeah, I knew the dry suit was open. I just threw the PFD on while carrying stuff to the beach!

Since there were so many students and coaches it took a while to get organized, but it was such a lovely morning. Everyone was in great spirits. They put some rocks on the beach and drew some lines representing Three Arch Rocks and the wave energy surrounding. Sunday’s swell was 5-6 feet max, and there was calm wind when we started. There would be some reflected waves on the north side.

Launching was pretty basic, except that once a little beyond the beach the surf was breaking in two directions, meaning you’d punch through one and then there would be another coming right at a 45 degree angle – so you’d need to quickly turn the kayak into it. Once beyond the small breakers it was nice!

Like Saturday it took me a few minutes to settle in. One problem was the paddle. I figured since it was a “tour,” and calmer I’d use the low-angle Werner Kalliste paddle. But right away, getting out through the surf zone and into the moderate swell, it didn’t feel right. Right then Shawna was talking with another student about using high angle for dynamic conditions and with that, I switched to my high angle Werner Cyprus. I should have loosened my thigh braces out a click, though!

It was 3/4 mile to the rocks. Very pleasant paddle, and as the rocks drew closer we saw there were some caves and smaller outcroppings. Plus, various birds and some small sea lions about. The sea lions, probably pups, watched us closely and once we got too close they jumped in the water and made their escape! I witnessed a brutal struggle amongst sea birds. A cormorant came up out of the water and swallowed a fish – then flew up 30 feet onto a steep ledge. Almost immediately two gulls began harassing the cormorant, until it eventually regurgitated its hard fought catch – and one gull immediately wolfed it down. So, even a swallowed fish is still in play! Not fair!

Here’s a video by Chris Lockyer, one of my Saturday instructors, of what it is like paddling in the area! Kind of hard to watch.

Watch the video by clicking on this text.

Shawna and Mark Whittaker were my coaches. Watching Shawna paddle, and experiencing her coaching was like watching a symphony performance. No matter the rocks or water surging around – every stroke/rudder movement was smooth, and all the while smiling, remembering the students’ names and giving everyone personal attention. She’s very re-assuring, calming nerves, telling students to breath deeply. We made some moves in and around the rocks near one of the big arches.

We found a small sea cave too!

Then we moved out to the weather side of the arch. There, the conditions were different as the swells reflected off the arches. But it wasn’t as unsettling as off Cape Kiwanda Saturday. Shawna suggested we paddle the surge in between two of the arches. That was fun and exciting! The swell surges in between, squeezing through the arches, and you kind of get “pushed” along as on either side of you it crashes along the rocks.

The group paddled through the arches. Randy tried to do a re-enter and roll in the swirly conditions in between the arches, but after several attempts gave up and got an assisted rescue from Mark Whittaker. Laura, back behind the arches did a nice cowboy self rescue! I didn’t feel like it because I already did that the day before. But now I regret not doing a roll out there just for kicks.

We played around the rocks for another 45 minutes, and then heard one of the other groups needed to head back because they had a sea sick paddler. We eventually decided to head back to the Oceanside beach, too.

I was one of the first to try the landing, and I picked up a little surf and rode it in, only to capsize and get thrashed in knee deep water. No matter. I forgot my Feelfree Kayak Snap Pack was hung around my neck with my non-waterproof camera inside! I dreaded opening it but was excited to find my camera 100% dry inside!

Well, the day was done. I was really stoked to have Mark and Shauna as my coaches, and maybe I’ll just have to take a session with Body Boat Blade. What a great weekend of ocean paddling!

Here is a 14 minute video of some of Lumpy Waters 2010!





RiPPLe Effect PDX 2010

9 10 2010

 

Crowds build!

 

If you know me, you know I’m a river steward. I actively put my life’s energy into restoring rivers like the Clackamas and Willamette. I’m an Advisory Board Member of We Love Clean Rivers. So for them, I work HARD to get donations for the silent auction, their main fund raiser, and I also work other events like Willamette Riverkeeper’s Great Willamette cleanup. But one event that gets special attention is the follow on event to the Clackamas River Cleanup – it’s called RiPPLe Effect and there, we sell art created from trash collected from the Clackamas River Cleanup!

 

Clackamas River Basin Council Crew!

 

RiPPLe 2009 was a bust because the location wasn’t ideal, and even worse, the date changed – all causing dwindling attendance. There was resentment amongst the artists. Bringing it up again this year was uncomfortable for Jenn Reilly, the RiPPLe organizer.

 

Jenn Reilly with Chris Enlow of KEEN

 

But I wanted it to succeed, and hatched a plan where I brought in KEEN Footwear, one of our primary sponsors and located in the Pearl District, into the scene. I’d been to events at KEEN Footwear’s Great Room – it’s a wonderful, fun, appealing, fully configurable open space available for events! Further, every first Thursday in the Pearl is “First Thursday Art Walk” when thousands of Portlanders are out looking at the galleries in the Pearl.

 

Creative paddler!

 

I put forth the idea that we put on RiPPLe PDX at KEEN Footwear on First Thursday in October. Jenn totally went for it. KEEN also went for it. One challenge we wrangled with was the fact that KEEN’s Great Room is on the 2nd floor – and it might hinder attracting street walkers. The hallway on the first floor was end to end of the building and empty.  We got permission to use the ground floor of their building – closest to the street walkers – for the event. It is just perfect. Jenn worked HARD to get this event going – and it paid off. Way to go Jenn!

 

Kristin talks about the Clackamas Cleanup...

 

We busted out all the works for RiPPLe PDX 2010! 14 artists, 5 bands, slide show of 8 years of river cleanup photos, a YouTube video contest, three kegs donated by Sierra Nevada, food, and the KEEN Garage, where they sell shoes, would be open right next door, and KEEN would donate 10% of all shoe sales that day to We Love Clean Rivers!

 

River trash now art!

 

Set up, the show, and take down was an all day affair. OMG a ton of work went into the event. But it was a blow out success!

I hatched another plan to send out a team of people onto the First Thursday street scene to generate buzz and attract guests! The idea was to dress up in brightly colored paddle tops, life jackets, helmets, festooned with KEEN stickers and grab attention to get people to come!

 

The street crew heading out

 

I even had us tow my Pyranha Burn whitewater boat, with lots of KEEN stickers on it, and fill the cockpit with beer cups and fliers for the event. It was perfect. People stopped and stared and we used that as an ice breaker to tell them about the show!  I had NO idea that 13th, their street, was the main closed off street for First Thursday! WOW.

It was so much fun – music, art, even the KEEN Garage was fun. They even had a little keg of beer in there! Chris and I were in there and he actually sold his first pair of shoes to a guest!

Their “Garage” retail shop is a good example of branding. The KEEN brand is about using both new and recycled materials in everything, and the Garage follows that idea. They have used high school bleachers for seats and used library ladders to get to shoes.

This event pulled in a wide demographic. Art lovers, executives, seniors, kids! It was terrific and a win win for everybody!

The “graffitti wall” leave your mark!

 


Interactive art!

 





Daniel Fox / Wild Image Project Presentation

24 09 2010

Please join me and Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe in hosting National Geographic / BBC / Argentine government sponsored wildlife photographer Daniel Fox in a presentation in Portland, September 29th, 2010!

Daniel just returned to Portland after more than six months on an expedition in Argentina documenting its rarest and most endangered wildlife and habitat. Daniel is known far and wide for his gift at capturing emotive images from the world’s wildest places.

He’s also a talented copy editor. His work is highly honored. And he has agreed to give us a presentation! I have engaged Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe to allow us to do the presentation at their boathouse location.

When:        September 29th, 2010

Where:      Alder Creek Kayak Canoe Boathouse, 1515 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR, 3rd Floor

Time:         6:30 p.m.

Refreshments provided by Alder Creek! Beer, wine, snacks!





Waldo Lake – Labor Day Weekend – Sunday…

17 09 2010

All the prior week the forecast was for the weather at Waldo Lake to turn cloudy and cooler for Sunday. Forecast high was 53. So those of us heading down there Friday were expecting to just make Sunday breakfast and leave! But April checked out the forecast using her Android phone Saturday evening and all changed for the better.

Sunday broke beautiful and the weather was blue sky! Warm! Nice! No longer in the mood to rush home – we lingered instead! Saturday evening I had even put away some stuff that I didn’t want to pack wet, like my hammock. Hahahah. It came right back out Sunday morning and I re-set it between two trees where it gave a fabulous view!

South Sister looked fabulous from our campsite peninsula. From another vantage point Middle Sister is also in view as well as Mount Bachelor.

Sunday breakfast for ten was quite the production. We used four stoves…one for coffee…we kept it coming…one for bacon…one for pancakes…one for omelets! Nobody went hungry!

We made pancakes topped with huckleberries we gathered Saturday. The food kept on coming and we chowed down!

The sun continued to rise in the eastern sky, warming our hearts. Some of us would depart in the afternoon but nobody was hurrying – we slowly packed up and took in the view and the sun. My hammock was never empty. Canoes plied the waters in front of our site.

April and Phil stayed on to Monday as the forecast called for even warmer weather! The rest of us left, choosing to take Monday to clean up and unpack. It was the best Waldo Lake trip ever!