After dropping my girlfriend off at the airport the other day, I stopped by my buddy Bryce’s house for breakfast. He’s a random dude, and I’m a spontaneous guy, and somehow this combination ended up with the two of us paddling in kayaks down the Columbia Slough in the rain. To date, I’d never actually paddled a kayak, (always wanted to try) but as a former Boyscout with my Canoeing merit badge, it wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me. The Slough is a good spot to paddle around for a first timer, and I was able to dial my paddling technique in pretty quickly, which allowed me to really look around and appreciate the experience.
For those unfamiliar with the Columbia Slough, it’s a narrow waterway about 19miles long. It twists and turns west through Gresham and Portland dumping into the Willamette River, about a mile from where it joins the Columbia. I’ve seen it, driving through town over the various bridges over it, but never really looked at it.
There are eight launch sites for boating along the slough. We set in near the airport.
Being the camera geek that I am, I rarely go anywhere without a camera of some sort. As I’m pretty focused on bikes, I don’t do a lot of water sports, so I have yet to pick up any type of waterproof camera encasement. Fortunately for me, Bryce had a waterproof iPhone sheath, which he graciously gave up for my use.
It was an interesting experience, traveling under the bridges. Taking a slower place than the world directly overhead left us free to observe nature while only being a stones throw away from it all. The habitats in the watershed support a wide range of wildlife which one doesn’t always see due to the hustle and bustle of day to day existence. I think the most dramatic part of our trip was passing through a culvert that went under a highway. The tide was low enough that we were able to pass through, but it did require ducking for the duration.
It not something one does everyday, and it ended being a nice way to spend the morning. The occasional showers of rain made us thankful for Goretex fabrics, and not only did I get my first time in the water with a kayak, but I got a nice workout as well. We paddled about 60 blocks or so one way before coming to a point where we would have been forced to portage, where we elected to paddle back and get some lunch.
On top of it all, it was a good way to test out and really experiment with my phone as a camera.