Paddling from Sportcraft Marina
to the Falls
August 28, 2011
Dan W bought the Chuckanut 15 we made at the Toledo Community Boathouse
and has been happily paddling it around ever since. He asked if
anyone wanted to go paddling up to Willamette Falls from Oregon
Dan had said Sportcraft Marina, but the ramp is closed there from
June through October (seems like a poor time to close a boat ramp)
so I went down and launched at the public ramp at Clackamet Park.
I tried calling Dan to tell him my plan, but he wasn't answering
his phone (cue ominous foreshadowing music.)
Keely dropped me off and away I went - on a somewhat longer slog
than I had originally intended. You have to admit, they made some
pretty garish canoes in the '60s.
A small codgerie of Coots today, just Dan (in the back) and Jim.
Dan seemed oddly damp - then he admitted he'd fallen in at the docks
- lost his camera and his phone was probably dead.
We took off upriver to see what we could see. That Chuckanut is
a nice looking Skin on Frame boat, innut?
The Willamette Locks are historical wooden locks that, until budget
cuts, used to be available to the public. You can read more about
the locks here,
and you can read when Keely and I attended
Lockfest in 2007. Since the locks aren't being operated any
more, I thought I'd paddle in to take a look around.
Jim and Dan stayed back at the exit. No sense of adventure.
There is a defunct paper mill on the east side of the river and
this functioning, operating mill on the west side. It doesn't look
like anyone is spending money on maintenance, though.
Jim as he approached the Line of Death below the falls.
We turned around and headed back, Dan'l taking full advantage of
the current. You powerboaters be careful - there are some HUGE unmarked
rocks out there - both Dan and I hit 'em with our paddles, and a
few seconds after I took this picture, we saw a powerboater had
run aground on them.
We had lunch on a sandy strip of beach on the west side, just downriver
from the locks. The big, tourist Willamette Jet Boats came by, kicking
up monster wakes and nearly carrying off our boats. After some chow
and some blackberries, we headed back downriver.
This wake was kicked up by the Sheriff's boat as he rushed out
to check on that family in the powerboat. I know water cops do important
work and I should be more welcoming of their attention, but . .
Dan convinced me to pull out at Sportcraft Marina and he'd help
me carry my boat up the catwalk. We got to paddle past these Stand
Up Paddleboards on the way in.
Back at the dock, Dan found a gaff and did some fishing. Wouldn't
you know it? He hooked his camera!
That was a very nice short paddle in a very historic part of the
river. The launch at Clackament Park is free, so there's no reason
not to go.