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 City.

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.