Columbia River. See the early morning fisherman.
John and I continue to "dead head" towards Oregon and ended up camping on the Columbia River in the Columbia Gorge on Thursday evening. We were able to find a perfect campsite right on the river without too much road noise or train noise. The evening brought lots of hot wind, but by morning the winds calmed down and it was very pretty.
Early morning on the Columbia Gorge
Mt Hood, Oregon as seen from the Columbia Gorge
The next day we had an easy day with less than 300 hundred miles to go so. The truck wash beckoned John and his rig became instantly clean...after paying $1.00 per foot for scrubbing and washing and then some more $ for washing the roof and then some more for spray waxing. It was a lesson for me as I have been putting off taking my rig to a truck wash, but now I see it is relatively painless as well as effortless and not that expensive. John also opted to do a little maintenance and get the oil changed. As you can see life on the road is not all about fun...there are some chores that must be done. This little stop didn't take all that much time and we were on our way to Sandi's in no time and arrived at Sandi and Bob's campsite on the Umpqua River mid-day. Wow were we in for a treat.
Sandi and Bob were located on several acres next to the river with no neighbors and noise. The only thing around was a pasture of sheep. We chose to camp several hundred yards from Sandi so as not to disturb them with our generator due to the heat, so we were near the near the sheep pasture. What fun to wake up in the morning and listen to the baaa of sheep. Made you feel like you were out in the middle of now where. However, the best was yet to come.
The next day, we loaded the kayaks up and Bob drove Sandi, John, and I up the river so we could do a float down the river. The plan was to float all the way back to camp. We had ideas of paddling all the way back to camp thinking it was going to be a 10-15 mile float. Up riverthe river front property is on private land and public access is limited. We did find a nice put-in place on private land which charged $10.00 and was part of an organic farm. We all launched and began our journey down the river, which none of us had paddled before. The Umpqua winds around, and around, and around. I think five miles on the road is probably 15 miles on the river.
Paddling down the Umpqua River
The river is absolutely gorgeous! There are very few houses or signs of man a long the river, except for the "Keep Out" signs posted by the Big K Ranch. We talked we several groups trying to find out mileage back to town and camp and the best information we could get was that it was "18 miles down to the second bridge and to watch out for the rapids just before the bridge". We were told we would probably have to portage around at least two sets of Class III rapids and that it was at least ten miles past the second bridge back to town. I'm thinking, its a good thing I brought the cell phone because we may need to call Bob to come get us andthat an over night float of 28 miles wasn't in the plans.
Sandi and John enjoying the Umpqua River
As we talked to more people (all Big K Ranch guests and guides, I'm sure), information on the rapids varied as did the mileage. We encountered lots of Class I & II rapids and then we came upon the last set of Class III. We had been told early on by one group you could paddle around the rapids to the right. But by the time we got to the rapids it was too late to take the alternate route. We got out of the kayaks and looked at the situation. This was not a short rapid. It appeared to be several hundred yards long and really fast. If we dumped at the beginning it could be bad. I volunteered to paddle back up river a little ways and see if we could find a way to paddle around the rapids. There was a clear route on the right, as one of the locals had indicated and with a few little fast shoots which we elected to take. The thought of a 1/4 mile portage just wasn't very appealing.
The heron wanted us to believe he was ignoring us.
We all made it though the shoots and to the second bridge. It this point, John's GPS indicated that we had been paddling for 14 miles and we were told by a fisherman it was probably another 10 miles to town. We landed and called Bob to come get us. The next challenge was to get the kayaks up the steep, sandy, narrow, over grown trail to the pull-out near the bridge. With the assistance of the local sheriff(on duty a performing an local assist...bigs thanks to him) a fisherman, Bob and ropes, we pulled the kayaks up the trail, loaded them on the car and were merrily on our way to get some well earned local burgers and tell stories of shooting the rapids.
John coming through the rapids
Lesson learned: Always talk the locals before you put-in. Always load the GPS with the appropriate maps.
The two days we spent with Sandi and Bob were great, but time wa ticking and we decide to head up north a little ways and catch up with the WINs near Logsden, Oregon before heading back to California. On the way we stopped at the Sea Lion Caves and visited the Umpqua Lighthouse. The coast is beautiful and at this time of year it is also very crowded, even on a weekday. The caves were really interesting and suppose to be the largest of its kind in the world. It was worth the visit.
Sea Lion Caves
The King! He is huge! Amazing how he gets up on the hill.
The caves are located 200 feet below us.
Umpqua River Lighthouse
Oregon Coast, near the sea lion caves