Thursday, September 12, 2013

Urban kayaking: Oregon's Tualatin River

After a slow start this morning (coffee, walk the dog, breakfast, read the news on line) we went to the Tualatin Riverkeepers, an organization working to protect and restore Oregon's Tualatin River.  We were looking for someone to explain what kind of permit we needed to kayak in Oregon, and the manager at our campground thought Riverkeepers might be able to help.  

Riverkeepers told us to go to REI and buy a permit. They also gave us a great map of the Tualatin River Water Trail, a 38.4 mile stretch of the 83-mile Tualatin River with 12 boat launches along the shore.

So it was off to REI to purchase two permits (good through the end of 2014) for $9.99 each. I was surprised that the only requirement was to pay up.  Oregon is one of just five states in the western half of the US not infected with quagga and zebra mussels, so I thought they'd be stricter. We clean our boats and know the rules about preventing invasive species, but no one asked us how we care for our boats. 

After getting our permits and a sandwich from Whole Foods, it was 1 p.m. when we got in the water.  Our paddle was pretty and mostly quiet -- 80 percent of the time you’d never know you were kayaking through a heavily populated area just south of Portland.  But at one point I thought I heard a speed boat coming up the river, then realized it was a nearby lawn mower.  Another time Jim said “Can you hear the rapids ahead of us?” but later realized what we'd heard was a building's air conditioning system.  But urban kayaking is fun, too, and we had a great time floating on this river.

  We paddled a small slice of the 38 mile water trail -- a five mile round trip from  the Tualatin Community Park to the Route 99 Bridge and back.  Here Jim paddles below a train trestle.   I read on line that "Tualatin" is Native American for "sluggish" or "lazy" and the river is very slow -- so slow that most of the time it seemed like we were on a narrow lake.
These river pilings were once part of a wooden covered bridge.  Now they look like flower planters. 
Per the Riverkeepers, the Tualatin River was once an Oregon family vacation destination, but abuse turned it into the most polluted river in the state.  It's on it's way back thanks to volunteers and conservation efforts.
Besides this heron we saw lots of ducks, geese, a king fisher that seemed to be following us, and about 8 other canoes and kayaks.
And a bonus:  After kayaking we went to daughter Season and SIL Lee's house in nearby Tigard, OR, where we visited with them and grandsons Connor, 20 months, and Owen, four. Sweet boys.

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