Sunday, November 23, 2008

Part 9: The End: Orifino Idaho to the
Pacific Ocean. Oh the joy! Sept 2004.

Above: Me with Ocean vessel along the Columbia River.

Sept 27, 1805"All the men able to work comenced building 5 canoes, several taken sick at work, our hunters returned sick without meet." Wm Clark ( Canoe Camp at Ahsahka, Idaho)

Oct 2, 1805"We have nothing to eate but roots, which give the men violent pains in the bowels after eating much of them." Wm Clark

Oct 5, 1805"had all our horses 38 in number collected and branded…delivered them to the 2 brothers and one son of one of the Chiefs who intends to accompany us down the river…they promised to be attentive to our horses untill we should return." Wm Clark

Oct 10, 1805"having passed two islands & six rapids several of them verry bad after viewg this riffle two canoes were taken over verry well; the third stuck on a rock which took us an hour to get her off which was effected withour rececing a greater injurey than a small split on her side which we repaired in a short time." Wm Clark

Oct 15, 1805"passed thro narrows for 3 miles where the clifts of rocks juted to the river on each side compressing the water of the river through a narrow chanel…" Wm Clark

Above: Evening along the Clearwater River.

I put my boat back in on the Clearwater River in Orofino last Wednesday. The 40 mile section to Lewiston was extremely fast and intimidating. The current moved along about 10 mph in places and I could see the boulders underneath me go speeding by. Almost every bend contained some sort of riffle or rapids. At times the waves crashed into my bow and washed over top my boat and myself. Large standing waves seem small from a distance but upon cutting through them I realized these were some of the biggest waves I have ever been in. I was very nervous as I worked my way downstream for fear of upsetting in one of the tall waves. The rapids were difficult to scout ahead since steep banks lined both sides of the river. One set of rapids lasted for 1/2 a mile with large boils and whirlpools swirling around the edges of the current. I was careful to avoid getting drawn away from the main current and into them.

Above: High hills along the Snake River.

After two days of fast water I began to feel the presence of the slack water above the first dam. Between Lewiston and Clarkston (notice the names) the Clearwater meets the mighty Snake River. The river lacks any noticeable current and becomes 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide. Giant hills and bluffs border both sides of the river some rising over 1000 feet in places. The high hills and banks are void of trees; in fact I can count the number of trees that I have seen in 5 days on two hands. Layers of black columnar basalt make up most of the hillsides. These ancient lava flows are the only reminder of the Snakes ancient pre history. Lewis and Clark encountered many Indians along the river all were very friendly and eager to trade salmon for whatever they could get. When they passed through here in 1805 there were many rapids which are now drowned out by the dams. They had a difficult time handling their large dugout canoes often tipping over or slamming into rocks causing them to leak.

Above: Sunflowers and fall temperatures greeted me.

It feels good knowing I'm within a few weeks of reaching the Pacific but sad in a way knowing this incredible experience is drawing to a close. It may take me a long to before I can ever describe my feelings fully on paper. It often seems like a dream when I look back at the start of my journey. In fact I do believe it all began as one such dream over thirty years ago as a child growing up in Northern Michigan. I guess for some of us it takes almost 1/2 a lifetime to make them come true. My late friend Verlen Kruger once told me " If you can dream it, you can do it". I guess you're right Verlen.

Above: Dam (damn) portage along the Snake River.

Above: Portaging a mile around this dam in the heat.

Oct 19, 1805"passed 20 lodges of Indians scattered allong the Stard. Side drying fish & prickley pear to burn in winter. I went on shore in a small canoe a head, landed at the first 5 lodges, found the Indians much fritened..." Wm Clark...
"P. Crusat played on the violin which pleased and astonished those reches who are badly clad, 3/4 with robes not half large enough to cover them..." Wm. Clark
Oct 23, 1805"I preceeded on to the river and struck it at the foot of a verry consdierable rapid, here I beheld an emence body of water compressd in a narrow chanel of about 200 yards in width, fomeing over rocks maney of which presented their tops above the water..." Wm Clark

Above: Self portrait.
His voice called out "can you come over here and help me?" The lone fisherman was seated in his boat as I paddled over towards him. Our boats bobbed up and down in the waves as the evening sun was nearing the horizon. I couldn't imagine what kind of help I could offer. At first I thought he had engine problems but as I paddled up next to his boat I could see he was in an unusual situation. He had a fairly large fish still hooked to his large florescent green lure and also his forearm was hooked by the other triple hook at the opposite end of the lure. He couldn't remove the fish since he had only one free hand which was used to keep the fish from moving and causing the hook to get embedded deeper into his arm. The hook was completely buried and was obviously not going to be removed by him or myself. He handed the fish over to me and then handed me a pair of pliers to remove the hook from the fish while he held the buried hook steady to keep it from moving. I managed to remove the fish and tossed it back into the river as both of our boats bobbed about in the steady waves. Once the fish was free, the large lure dangled freely from his forearm. I told him he should probably have a doctor remove it since it was obvious it had penetrated through some of his tendons. I think he was in a mild state of shock since the paid no attention to me as he sped away at full throttle creating a wake that nearly flipped me over. I think that this situation was the 1st time in my entire journey that I was able to help someone instead of people always helping me. I was glad I was able to save his day.
On Thursday I finally reached the mighty Columbia River. It's this body of water that will carry me to my final destination. It is the largest river so far excluding the reservoirs on the Missouri. I am very apprehensive about paddling it too. High winds constantly blow along the wide channel creating large waves which could easily capsize a small craft. These high winds welcomed me on Saturday as I tried to reach Boardman, Oregon where my friend Todd Hanna was to meet me and camp for the night. Large breaking waves were hitting me from the side and I became fairly wet in a hurry. I never made it to Boardman but was within walking distance. I set up my tent and put on some dry clothes and headed towards town along a nearby dirt road to meet Todd. The route took me 2 hours but I managed to find him after being there only ½ an hour. I had not seen him in 3 years so it was good to catch up on life. I will be staying with him, his wife Deb and daughter Madison once I reach Hood River about 100 miles away.
Very few trees align the banks of the Columbia. The hills have turned a golden yellow giving the landscape a texture of autumn. I remember back in March and April when the vegetation was just beginning to bud out as spring arrived. The drab colors soon became greener as each new day arrived. Now, after 6-months I can begin to feel the chill in the air, see the dieing flowers and grasses, and notice the shortness of each new day. Those long days of paddling till 8pm are long gone. I am typically setting up my tent about 6pm and ready for the sleeping bag about 7:30pm.

Above: Locking through a damn dam.

Above: Looking back where I just left from. Glad those huge doors didn't break
and come crashing down.

Above: It was great when I was allowed to lock through the dam.
Nothing like wasting 40-million gallons of water to lower me and my little boat 90 feet.

Above: Somewhere U.S.A.
A shower of rain early this morning kept me from departing till 8am. The river looked promising at being able to make 30-miles. After a few hours the wind instantly began to howl. Within minutes the entire river was foaming with whitecaps as I struggled to maintain my speed. As my bow lifted high in the water as a new wave approached it would soon slam down into the next incoming wave. I felt like I was riding on a titter-totter. I quickly spotted a small sandy bay and worked my way to its protection. Just above the beach was an ample flat space large enough for my tent, even though it was exposed to the high winds. Broken chunks of basalt rock lay about like giant chess pieces intermingled with dead grass and brush. From my vantage point I can see entirely across the mile and a half wide river. Huge waves roll upstream and I am glad to be in a safe dry place. All the along the river Lewis and Clark encountered my friendly Indian lodges. Today there is no evidence of their villages only the Union Pacific Railroad on the north side and the Burlington Northern Railroad and the Interstate highway on the south shore.
Along a faint deer trail I saw what looked like an ancient hiding place for a lone Indian hunter. This tiny rock enclosure would easily conceal a hunter in pursuit of game. It now stands as a reminder to the people who once lived along this mighty river. Three more dams separate me from the rivers end and my journeys end. It's been a long event filled 6-months. I've met so many great people, seen beautiful landscapes, experienced a wide variety of weather conditions as well as experienced many mental and physical challenges. Each day there was something new to overcome and to experience. I have a much better appreciation for the members of the Corp. of Discovery. We both have shared the extreme elements, wind swept rivers, rugged mountains, and sun baked plains together. I have seen hundreds of geologic and geographic features that they mentioned in their journals and can almost imagine what it was like for them to experience seeing them for the first time. Their journey at this point was really only just the beginning. Once they reached the ocean, they were only 1/2 way. After a difficult and wet winter spent at Ft. Clatsop they headed back to St. Louis in the spring of 1806. At times I too wished I was heading back down the trail in the spring seeking better understanding in the journey. In a way I will be, for the Lewis and Clark journey is engrained deep inside of me and I know I will be with them in spirit, dreaming once again about their long journey home.

Above: Sunset near Umatilla, Oregon.

Above: Can't get enough of scenes like this.

September 19-21, 2004
Does the wind ever stop blowing along the Columbia River? I have wondered about this since I reached this huge river over a week ago. Paddling this can be very dangerous due to the sudden and constant winds which whip the water into a foaming torrent of whitecaps. Over the past week, I have experienced near constant winds including three days in which I stayed put in a small cove along the river due to the large waves and headwinds that forced me to shore. The river resembles a large lake more than it does a river. Lewis and Clark had to also battle the wind as well as many large rapids along the entire river. Luckily for me the rapids are no longer present due to the construction of several dams on the river which have now drowned the rapids under a hundred feet of water or more.
A couple of days I was able to experience the river in a state of calm that resembled glass. There was not even a slight ripple on the water. Of all the days I have paddled since March I have only had 6 days of calm winds in which the river appeared like glass. Yes only 6 days out of 5 months of paddling! I have gotten to the point where I can live with the constant blowing and think nothing of it although after several days of being "wind bound". I get bored and tired of waiting and watching the days pass hoping the water will calm down enough that I can make progress without having to worry about capsizing in the huge waves.

Above: I was windbound for 4-days in this little cove while the wind
rocketed 50+ mph and created huge seas on the river. I was
glad I had a cheap dime store novel to read, and reread.

Above: Along the windy and mighty Columbia River.

Above: Me and friend Todd Hanna with our college alum banner.
Go Lakers! I've known Todd for years and stayed with he and his family while in
Hood River, Oregon.

I arrived in Hood River, Oregon friday afternoon. The last few days have been very rainy as I approached the mighty Columbia River Gorge -- Wind Surfing Capitol of the World. Once I arrived in The Dalles, Oregon the geography makes a sudden change. The hills and bluffs are now covered with old growth fir and pine trees giving the area the feeling of being in a tropical rain forest. Bluffs close to 1000 feet line both sides of the river. All consist of volcanic basalt. Several volcanoes are located close by including Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood. The clouds and fog have blocked any chance of viewing these massive peaks, but I hope to see them as the weather is suppose to clear up later this week.
I am looking forward to the final 170 miles of my journey even though it could prove to be the most challenging due to the high tides and nasty weather the area receives. I have to make sure that I camp above the high tide line or I could experience getting really wet from the incoming tidal waters. The tides rise and fall as much as 8 feet near the mouth of the Columbia which is also called the "Graveyard of the Pacific" due to the hundreds of ship wrecks that have occurred here over the last two hundred years. One can only imagine a storm that could sink a 300 foot ship let alone a 17 foot kayak!

Above: Columnar Basalt above Hood River.

Above: Native American petroglyphs along the Columbia River.

This morning I had the pleasure of talking with Ms.Schends' 4th Grade class at May Street Elementary School in Hood River, Oregon. Her class will soon be studying the Lewis and Clark expedition. I had a great time talking with these great kids who seemed very interested in my journey. I was about their age when I got the idea to follow the Lewis and Clark trail so maybe one of them will someday depart from St. Louis in their very own kayak or canoe and paddle to the Pacific. With determination and the desire to do this trail I'm sure every one of them is capable of such a long journey of discovery. Keep Dreaming Kids!
I plan to be in Astoria on Monday the 27th of Sept which will complete my journey. I hope to post a few more updates and more photos of the final week once I've completed the trip. Sometime during the fall or winter I will post hundred more photos from the trail to give you a better idea what is out there. I will have a period of adjustment once I arrive home in Montana that will take awhile to overcome. Life becomes so simple on the river that once I get home, I will begin a new routine. This may be as difficult as portions of the journey which I must overcome each day as a step by step process.

Above: Mrs. Schends 4th-grade class in Hood River, Oregon.

Above: The Columbia River Gorge: The birthplace of the wind.

Above: Along the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River Oregon.

Above: Gotta love the morning sunrise and fog!

Above: Morning fog below Beacon Rock.
In the Wake of Discovery!

(Text Below was sent to my website during the trip and written by John Haide from Oregon. He was the only paddler in 6-months to paddle with me. It was great to have some company during our short 30 mile day. Thanks John too for your photos of me.)
I sent Norm an email a couple weeks ago when I figured he would be nearing my area. I live just outside of Portland. I got a phone call from Norm when he was in Hood River and we decided to hook up on Thursday the 23rd, 6 months from Norm's departure from St. Louis, to paddle the section of the Columbia from Government Island, just east of Portland, down to St. Helens, Oregon. It turns out this is just a little over 30 miles. It turned out Norm actually camped on McGuire Island which was only about 1/2 mile from a boat launch where I could easily put in. I paddled my 1985 kit built skin-on-frame Folbot Sporty from the launch to find Norm out on by his boat. I pulled up on shore and we had a quick introduction before heading down the river. It was very calm as we departed and the sun was just coming up over the Columbia Gorge to the east.
We had good current and made our way along the south side of Government Island, Under the Interstate 205 bridge and past the Portland International Airport. Norm was a little surprised that you cannot see the city of Portland from the river. It is actually around 6 miles from the Columbia River. We passed under the Interstate 5 bridge between Portland and Vancouver, Washington, now getting into a more active commercial port area. We started seeing tug and barge traffic and large freighters at port docks or anchored in the river waiting to load or unload. We stopped for lunch at Frenchman's Bar Park on the Washington side of the river. It was pretty calm up until this point and the sun was now out making for a nice stop on the grass at the park. Leaving from lunch we were just past where the Willamette River enters the Columbia and the Columbia makes a bend to the North at this point. As we left, the afternoon winds came up and wouldn't you know it, they were right out of the North. The rest of the trip was along Sauvie Island, the largest river island in the country. It stretches for about 15 miles, all the way down to St. Helens, Oregon. After fighting the headwinds and wind waves up to 2 feet, we finally arrived in St. Helens just a little after 5:00PM and Norm set up camp and started dinner while I made cell phone calls to get a ride back to pick up my truck at the starting point of the day.
It was really great meeting Norm and getting to know him as we traveled down the river. I enjoyed telling him about the area and learning more about his trip. We will keep in touch as my plans come together for my Lewis and Clark trip a little over a year from now.
John Haide Hillsboro, Oregon.

Above: Pilings along the river with Mt. Hood in the background.

Oct 27, 1805 "a verry windy night and morning wind from the west and hard." Wm. Clark
Nov 2, 1805 "Made a portage of about 1 1/2 miles with half of the baggage, and run the rapid with the canoes without much damage, one struck a rock & split a little, and three others took in some water... Wm. Clark
Nov 3, 1805 "A mountain which we suppose to be Mt. Hood is S. 85 E. about 47 miles distant from the mouth of quick sand river. This Mtn is covered with snow and in the range of mountains which we have passed through and is of a conical form but rugid." Wm Clark
Nov 5, 1805 "the day proved cloudy with rain the greater part of it, we are all wet cold and disagreeable…" Wm Clark "Great joy in camp we are in view of the Ocian with great Pacific Ocean which we been so long anxious to see. And the roaring or noise made by the braking on the rockey shores may be heard distinctly." Wm Clark
Above: Me on the Columbia.

Above: A nice private camping place along the Columbia River.

Above: Paddler John Haide near Portland. John was the ONLY paddler
I shared the water with in 6-months! Can you believe that!
I got to paddle with John in his Folboat all the way to St. Helens, Oregon.
Above: Portland Oregon. I camped near the end of the airport runway.

Above: Looking at my map.

Above: Paddling through industrial Portland. A piece of cake!

Above: Me and John Haide somewhere below Portland.

Above: Old Nuclear Power Plant on Coffin Island.

Above: Me and the big boats.

The disturbance in the water just ahead of my boat caught my attention as I began to drift off into my usual deep paddling mode. At first I thought the splashing in the water was caused by an Osprey diving for one of the many salmon that were heading upstream for the fall spawning season. I stopped paddling for a moment and noticed a large dark object appear from underneath the water and thrash about once again. This time I noticed that whatever it was had a very large chinook salmon in its mouth and was shaking it like how a dog shakes a sock in its mouth when playing .I paddled a little closer as the animal broke through the waters surface and shook the fish once again. This time I could not mistake the large animal for that of a sea lion. It must have weighed close to 300 lbs and was eating a salmon it had caught. I was thrilled to see this animal not only because I have seen few in the wild but because it was a sign that I was close to the Pacific and an end to my long journey. The sea lion had traveled over 70 miles from the ocean when I saw it on a very placid evening along the mighty Columbia River.
Seeing the sea lion brought me relief in knowing that the end was near, but also a sadness in the closing of what has become a way of life for the last half a year. Over the last several months I have become use to all the discomforts that once nearly drove me over the limit. The constant heat, wet, wind, blowing sands, mud, aches, sun burns, cramps, and uncertainties have become such an everyday occurance that one begins to think nothing of them, and at times I often wonder where they are when they don't show up after a day or two. Life as I have known it for the past 27 weeks has become very simple. Your days are basically divided into eating, sleeping, and paddling. Nothing more.
My days are often so routine that each simple task is engrained in my mind that I go through a mental checklist each morning upon setting out to make sure everything has been packed correctly. The waters along the lower Columbia have been some of the most peaceful of my entire journey. Not only has the water been nearly calm but the landscape is very beautiful. Large bluffs line much of the water, all covered with dense fir and spruce trees.Many islands provide shelter for the abundance of bird life that seems to be getting ready for the fall migration. Not only do I share the river with water fowl but also with large tugs and ocean going ships many of which are well over 600 feet long. These large ships travel at such a fast rate of speed that they seem to be almost on top of you before you can descide which side of the shipping channel you need to be on. Many create large wakes that could toss you about if you are not careful enough to position your boat to receive the least amount of wake wash. If the wind is blowing away from you it is sometimeshard to hear the low droan sound of the large diesel engines as they approach.
The only bad day of weather I've had was when I left Hood River, Oregon last tuesday. The Gorge is the wind surfing capitol of the world and I seemed to hit one of the better days for wind. I managed to get about two miles outside of Hood River when a 20 mph gust began to blow upstream causeing large waves to form. I managed to find shelter in several small bays as I inched along the shore. The waves got so large after awhile that I had to pull completely off the water in hopes that it would die down enough to continue. Unfortunatly it did not die down and I was forced to camp across from the town of Stevenson, Washington for the night. I got an early start in the morning to beat the wind and made it to Bonneville Dam. This dam is the last one on the Columbia River and has the highest security of them all. My friend Todd Hanna was kind enough to help with the long portage around the dam where I put back in below the dam on water that was as calm as glass. The river was fogged in and I could hardly make out many of the land features that were on my map. I made great time in the downstream current covering over 30 miles in about 5 hours.

Above: Sealion about 70-miles from the ocean.

I camped on the edge of Government Island which sits right on the edge of Portland. A busy highway full of cars sat on the opposite shore while 747's lifted off the nearby runway and roared upwards through the sky. It was had to imagine a city of over a million people had sprung up in just two hundred years since Lewis and Clark passed through. The next day I had the pleasure of paddling with John Haide from Hillsboro, Oregon. John had contacted me the week before and had been following my journey online the entire summer. He was hoping to paddle with me and to get some vital information on the upper Columbia and Snake Rivers since he is planning to to paddle from Orofino, Idaho to the Pacific next summer or fall.John arrived just as the sun began to lighten the area enough to make out more than just shapes and forms along the water. He was paddling a Folboat Kayak and I joined him as we traveled through Portland and beyond to the small fishing community of St. Helens, Oregon.
It was a nice casual pace the entire day even though the wind picked up a little in the afternoon. I had been traveling my own pace for the past 6 months it was hard for me to slow my rate down enough as to not get so far ahead of John. It was great to paddle with someone who enjoys being out on the water as much as I do. John provided me with many valuable facts and navigational information to help boost my confidense in traveling the lower Columbia River. Dealing with tides, ocean currents,and a large shipping channel were all new territory for me. I was very nervous about this entire section of the river especially the last 15 miles. John was kind enough to give me a tide table and show me how to read it. I was suprised to learn that there are two highs and lows each day. Learing how to read the tables were actually much easier than I had thought which boosted my confidence even more. John and I paddled over 30 miles to the small town of St. Helens where I set up camp on an island directly across from the town. I think I had the entire island all to myself. John departed just before the sun dipped below the horizon while I pulled my boat far up on shore so as not to let the tide take it while I slept.
I got up in the middle of the night to check on the boat and was suprised to find the stern partly in the water. The river rose nearly 4 foot during the night. In the morning, the river was shrouded in thick fog so I was very careful as to not get out too far into the shipping channel and become a "speed bump" for a large ship. I made good time since the tide was on its way out to sea and it pulled me along with it. I passed the large outcropping of rock known as Coffin Rock. Lewis and Clark made reference of this feature and noting that many of the Indians had buried their dead around its base. Along the edge of the rock now sits a Nuclear power plant giving the island a sense of doom which fit its name.
I managed to make it to County Line park and camped in the small campground situated along the river and highway. Jim and Arlyce Ross were kind enough to invite me over to their camp for dinner. They were from nearby Longview, Washingtion and come to the campground often to get away from town. We had a nice evening watching the huge boat wakes crash into shore, one of which nearly flipped my boat onto the pile of rocks along the waters edge. I was glad to move it to higher ground since several more ships passed by during the night. The view up the river gave you a nice view of Mt. St. Helens and its blown off top. It would be hard to imagine the day back in the early 80's when she blew 1000 feet off of its height with its huge eruption.. I made good time to the small village of Skamockawa by noon on Saturday.

Above: Me downstream of Portland, Or.

Above: Falls near Skamockawa, Wa.

As I was approaching town, I could see the outline of over a dozen sea kayaks all heading my way. I was suprised by the large numbers of paddlers since I had seen very few since leaving Montana two months prior. I briefly chatted with a few of the paddlers. They did not seem at all suprised by my presence as I was of theirs since they see so many paddlers in this part of the river. Skamockawa has a paddling center which is very famous. It sits right on the waters edge and one can paddle up to the dock, tie off and walk into the shop, small grochery, restaurant and post office all in one building. People come from all over the country to paddle in this beautiful area. As I approached the beach which looked like as ideal place to camp for the next two nights, two paddlers stopped by and asked about my journey. They said they were with the Oregon Ocean Paddlers Society (OOPS) out of Portland and were having their fall Salmon Bake party. They invited me to join the group for dinner. I had thought I would be eating the final dehydrated meals I had brought along and getting to bed by sunset but I was wrong. Two other members named Katherine and Gary also invited me to the dinner and asked if I would be willing to tell the group about my journey. I told them I would be delighted to and thanked them for the invite. Gary and a few others were very helpful in providing me with key information about the final 30 miles of my trip to the mouth of the mighty Columbia. Dinner was soon served and a feast it was. Salmon, salads, desert including ice cream filled my stomach to the brim.
After dinner I talked to the paddling club about my journey for nearly an hour.It was probably the longest period I have talked to anyone the entire 6-months. I had grown accustomed to talking to myself a lot over the last few months so it was nice to actually converse with other people. My voice grew tried after awhile due to my lack of conversations over the last months. It was nice to talk to fellow paddlers who can relate to spending time on the water in a boat. Sometimes when I would have a conversation with someone about my journey they often could not relate to doing what I was doing. Many people I have encountered seemed like they never understood what it was like to follow a dream. This group of paddlers seemed glued to my conversation which was a nice change of pace.I was very envious of their club since there is no such club like that where I live back in Montana.
This was the largest group of people I had talked to since departing from St. Louis. I had such a great time with this group of people it was hard knowing I would be departing soon and may not see most of them again but one never knows. Thanks OOPS for the fantastic Salmon Bake dinner and extra Salmon filet you gave me for the following nights dinner with my girl friend Dee Dee. Speaking of Dee Dee, she arrived in town the following morning about 9am when I wasn't expecting her till late afternoon. I was so happy to see her drive into the campground the next morning.

Above: My last day: Fog so thick I could hardly see in front of me.

I had not seen her since Three Forks, Montana two months ago. We spent the day together going to the coast and Astoria to check out a landing place for me the following day. At one time I was originally going to paddle across the bar of the river into the Pacific but what a fool I would have been. Upon looking out over the mouth of the river from the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse one sees nothing but a huge expanse of wicked water. The mouth is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. It has claimed over 1000 ships and hundreds of lives over the years. Waves as high as 50 feet has been known to form in minutes. William Clark even wrote in his journal how aweful this body of water was. The Lewis and Clark Expedition stopped paddling before they reached the mouth due to the heavy seas which nearly detroyed their canoes. They eventually retreated back upstream nearly 20 miles and crossing to the south side, following this around past the present site of Astoria into a small bay and river now called Lewis and Clark River where they wintered over at a newly constructed fort they called Clatsop. My final day was uneventful.

Above: Last night out.

The waters were calm but the fog was so thick I could not see more than 40 feet in front of my boat. With careful navigation and a little luck, I managed to paddle from Skamockawa to Astoria in about 6-hours. As I approached the final 1000 feet of my journey I could see Dee Dee standing on the shore smiling my way. I found out later she almost didn't make it to see me come in since her truck would not start back at camp after I left due to moisture in the gas tank. It was great to see her standing there watching me. She had been such a big help over the last 6- months,I probably would have had a hard time logistically without her help.
Several people also stood near her and snapped a few photos as I pulled my boat into shore. Jim from OOPS along with several of the people from the Maritime Museaum stood and applauded which was by far a bigger greating than Lewis and Clark received. Several sea lions swam near and surfaced near my boat while others barked loundly from a nearby bouy. A Great Blue Heron flew overhead and headed out towards sea. Was this the same Heron I saw every day that seemed to follow me waiting at every bend as I apporached only to fly away to greet me on the next bend? I felt releaved that my final week went smooth and that I didn't have a grand finale Coast Guard Helicopter rescue at sea. I was tired, thankful, and happy to be alive. Ocean in view, Oh the Joy!

Above: Fog setting in for the evening on the Columbia.

Above: Sunset at Skamakowa Washington, my last night out on the water!

Above: Arrival at Astoria: Sept 27th, 2004 1:15pm
Ocean in view, Oh the joy!
Above: Wading in the salt waters of the Pacific. It seemed sureal
having left St. Louis Missouri just over 6-months ago. Wow!

Above: Cape Disappoinment at the mouth of the Columbia.

Above: Rusting remains of a ship. One of over a 1,000 ships
that have sunk at the mouth of the Columbia River. Hence why it
is called the Graveyard of the Pacific.

Above: This is what I envisioned might happen if the weather
got bad at the mouth of the Columbia. Coast Guard rescue scene
at the MaritimeMuseum in Astoria, Oregon.

Above: A bananna slug. They sure are big!

Above: Looking down on Astoria, Oregon and
the wide mouth of the Columbia River.

Above: Reconstructed Fort Clatsop where Lewis & Clark
and the Corp of Discovery wintered-over during
Above and below: Evening sunset over the Pacific on the evening of the completion
of my 6-month journey chaceing the ghost of Lewis & Clark.

"Bad things are not the worst thing that can
happen to you; nothing is the worst
thing that can happen to you" Richard Bach

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