Believe or not, I’ve never been kayaking, although it’s been on my bucket list for some time now. A friend of mine rounded up a couple kayaks and lucky for us, this past weekend was unusually dry and sunny for Portland. With conditions ideal for a crisp fall day of kayaking, we headed east, toward Benson Lake, reputed to be good for a newbie kayaker such as myself. Once we got there though we discovered that the Columbia River Gorge wind was particularly strong and was creating large, choppy waves on the lake. Seeing as this would not make for an enjoyable first kayaking experience, we decided to try another spot on the Columbia Slough by Kelly Point Park in North Portland and luckily, conditions there were perfect.
Also lucky for me, our access point was on a gentle incline on the shoreline. This made getting in the kayak fairly simple, although getting out was a bit harder, I am happy to report that I did not fall in the water! At my current level of kayaking skill, if I had to enter/exit from a dock, I don’t know if I could say the same thing. Due to this fear of falling in the water, I left Cole and my good camera at home and only brought my iPhone, snug in a Ziploc bag, with me to document the experience.
Once in the water, we first paddled up the slough toward where the Willamette River meets the Columbia River. Then we turned around and went the other way, passing under a bridge and railroad tracks. We stopped to explore a waterway that went inward a bit from the slough where I proceeded to get stuck on a couple of rocks lurking just below the surface of the water. Fortunately, I was able to get going again fairly easily. We continued down the slough for awhile longer and decided to turn around and head back at a fork in the waterway.
Going back toward our launch point, we worked against the current and my arms got got a good work out. All along the way, lots of Great Blue Herons and ducks frequently flew over our heads. It was so quiet that we could hear the sounds of their wings cutting through the air. The entire time, we were surrounded by the beautiful fall colors of leaves that still remained on the trees, all reflecting perfectly in the mirror like stillness of the waters surface. The sun peaked through the trees that lined the shore and beams of light streaked down to the water. At times, I just sat in silence and enjoyed the warmth from the sun, the silence and the slight bobbing that came from floating on the slowly flowing body of water.
Meanwhile, during this exact same time, I saw reports via Facebook from friends back home that it had snowed in Wisconsin. In Portland, it hovered right around fifty degrees but despite having slightly chilly hands and feet, I was quite comfortable the entire trip. It was one of those wonderful moments when I realized, yet again, how happy I am with my Oregon life and how lucky I am to call this magnificent state home.
I truly enjoyed my first kayaking experience and am thankful for my new friend and his kindness for making this trip happen. If done slowly, it seems very feasible to attain the various items needed to incorporate this type of recreation into my life on a regular basis. In the meantime, I will have to rely on the generosity of friends to keep getting out on the water. My hope is that by next summer, I’ll have my own gear so Cole and I can do a weekend camping/kayaking trip with friends. Cole looks quite good in a doggy life-vest and I think he would be just as thrilled with the kayaking experience as I am.