Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekend on the Clackamas & Clark County Fair

This weekend Chris came up North to the Portland area to visit with a pair of inflatable kayaks from the ORC.  On Saturday Emily joined Chris and I for the lower part of the river which was an easy 9 mile float with class II rapids from Milo Mc Iver Park to Barton County Park.  Chris then joined us for Clark County Fair that night before he and I set out on Sunday to meet up with his brother Eric to tackle a 10 mile stretch of the Clackamas further upstream with class III rapids.

We met up with Chris at Barton State Park Saturday morning around 11am.  Em and I were a little late as she was concerned she would be cold so we stopped at REI for a top for her to wear.  When we arrived at the park and paid admission we could tell we had nothing to worry about as there were literally hundreds of people in bikinis and swim trunks headed to the river with walmart blow-up tubes and other crazy floatable contraptions.  We felt a little over dressed and I ditched any notion of wearing my farmer john wetsuit.  

By the time we shuttled the vehicles and put in at the upper End of Milo Mc Iver it was around noon and the day was really heating up.  It took no time to blow up our IKs and for Chris to haul his new kayak down to the river.  For most of the day Chris was the only one on the river, among many other floaters, to be in a hard shell, non-inflatable boat.  It was good he wore his helmet incase he flipped as he was stuck in his kayak and would rail his face on rocks but after a while he recognized how odd he looked around everyone and that the rapids were really mostly just ripples.... It was a wonderful 4 hour relaxing float down the river which was at very low water level in mid-August.  In a couple spots Em and I had to walk our IKs over some rocks to get through.  I don’t know how the other people around us made it without popping their tubes!

There were a few rapids that may have been called Class II+ but they were of little concern to us.  It was more fun to watch all the amateurs with beer coolers by their sides flip through them.  All afternoon we had ospreys and herons flying around us.  We reached the take out just before 4pm making it a 3hr 15 minute float.  We loaded up the boats, drove Holm back to his car and headed north to Ridgefield to get some dinner at our place and clean up.

Saturday night Chris, Emily and I headed to the Clark County Fair after we ate some grilled steaks, salad and potatoes, stuffing ourselves before hitting the rides.... It was the typical fair and we walked through a bunch of barns of animals ranging from goats, to chickens to cows and bunny rabbits.  We then found that, as usual, tickets for rides were ridiculously overpriced.  Five tickets were required for any of the good rides and tickets were $1 a piece!  Em and I put down $30 so we could get 3 rides and Chris put in $15 to join us.  The first ride we hit was the Zipper which flips you around in carts that you can also flip around while you remain standing up.  Em and I went first as Chris needed a partner and I spun us until she begged me to stop.  Then I ran back and joined Chris at the front of the line for another round.  We were able to get our cart flipping while the ride was at a standstill loading people below!  

We checked out the games and I was amazed to see an Apple Prize dart game where you could win Apple Products such as iPods and iPads!  Oh, how far Apple has come.... We then rode the ride that brings you far up on a tower and drops you.  Those 5 tickets evaporated from us in a half second of gut in your throat freefall... not worth it.  I then bought a funnel cake with vanilla ice cream and waited in line for Chris and Emily to use up their remaining tickets on the Ring of Fire ride that was basically a vertical circular track with carts on it that travelled forward and back around it.  By then it was 11pm so we all headed out of the fair back to the house for a nights rest.

On Sunday Chris and I met up with his brother in North Portland at his house near I-5 and after stopping at Safeway for some beer, headed on the long drive out on the Clackamas River to the Three Lynx and Power House area put in.  It took us a while to find a good spot to put on the river but we eventually found a spot down to the river near calm water.  A group of boaters showed up with a raft and asked if we new any beta but we hadn’t been here before so couldn’t help them.  It looked a bit low and rocky for them to raft on once we got on the river though... 

Eric, Chris and I then had a really fun float down the upper part of the Clackamas on Sunday afternoon to the Lazy Bend area takeout.  Upstream the river was very low and it took some negotiating around rocks and good paddling to avoid getting stuck on them constantly.  This time we actually didn’t see many people on the river until we got nearly to the take out and ran into a squadran of rafts hitting some bigger rapids. 

On the way we found a cool cliff jumping spot that required a precarious traverse across a large downed tree over the river.  I guinea pigged it and was a bit nervous as I could see the bottom from the rocks on the other side that I jumped off of.  Thankfully, it was just because the water was super clear in late summer and it turned out to be plenty dep.  Chris and Eric then followed and jumped off the log into the river instead of the rocks.  The only Class IV rapid that was in the Soggy Sneakers guide book turned out to be totally safe as the water was so low.  We could see a metal rung ladder leading into it from the rocks above though, a clear indication that this was a dangerous recirculation zone and was known to trap boaters.  

We then had a few more Class III rapids, two of which Eric and I flipped in before we found our way to the take out.  We ended up giving a ride to a fellow kayaker back to his car that had passed us on the river.  From there I said goodbye and had an hour drive back to Ridgefield.  It was a beautiful weekend on the Clackamas River and it felt great to be on water getting some sun rather than hiking or mountain biking covered in sweat.  Great weekend I look forward to hanging with Chris again!

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