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
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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!
Oct 27, 1805 "a verry windy night and morning wind from the west and hard." Wm. Clark
Above: Me on the Columbia.
Above: Me and John Haide somewhere below Portland.
Above: Old Nuclear Power Plant on Coffin Island.
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.
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.
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.
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.