Latest from The Spokesman-Review
WATERSPORTS – The Little Spokane River shuttle service for paddlers will resume this summer with an expanded season that starts on Saturday July 4 and runs Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., through Sept. 5.
The shuttle is operated by Spokane Parks and Recreation Department to reunite river paddlers with their vehicles.
The van will run between the Nine Mile take-out and the St. George’s put-in. Cost: $8 per person. Vehicles parked at either of the access points must have a Discover Pass.
Note: No inner tubes, rafts, dogs or alcohol allowed on Little Spokane River. Life jackets (PDFs) required for all. Under 18 parent must accompany child.
Register for shuttles at spokaneparks.org.
Registration on-site with CHECKS or CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS ONLY, NO CASH.
WATERSPORTS — The Little Spokane River shuttle service for paddlers will resume this summer with an expanded season starting on July 4 and running Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., through Sept. 5. The shuttle is operated by Spokane Parks and Recreation Department.
The van will run between the Nine Mile take-out and the St. George’s put-in. Cost: $8 per person. Vehicles parked at either of the access points must have a Discover Pass.
Register for shuttles at spokaneparks.org.
PADDLING — A video of a man's canoe ballet is a peaceful end of the week and a reminder of what a little practice with a paddle can accomplish.
The video is from the 2007 Mid-West Freestyle Canoe competition.
American Freestyle canoeing is the art of paddling a canoe on flat water with perfect control of its movements. The canoe is usually leaned over to the side to help the boat turn sharply and efficiently and paddle strokes are taken on either side of the canoe depending on the individual move. Balance, paddle placement and turn initiation are a few keys to this control. Since the movements seem dance-like, some practice this art timed to music, which is the ultimate in control.
PADDLING — In case you think winter's over, check out this field report from a pair of canoeists who thought they'd take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow last weekend to beat the boating crowd to Upper Priest Lake.
"OK, sooooo… We were really keen on canoeing into Upper Priest, but Old Man Winter is still in full control there," writes Mike Wootton, who posted a photo of Kristina Kripaitis posed along the ice-covered north end of the the main Priest Lake.
Kripaitis and Wootton had set out to paddle their gear and camp at the Upper on Saturday and Sunday. But they found main Priest Lake completely frozen over at the Beaver Creek put-in.
"We were thinking run-off and wind would have been our challenge through The Thorofare, but finding ice really caught us by surprise," Kripaitis said.
"What a difference a couple miles on the lake can make," she added, noting that most of Priest Lake has been ice-free.
Not to be deterred….
"We drove back to Reeder Bay and launched there to paddle out to Kalispell Island," she said. "Had the entire Island to ourselves over the weekend so that was pretty awesome."
Kripaitis and Wootton, by the way, are experienced paddlers and that was a good thing as the couple launched their canoe into the open waters of Priest Lake. Even with their skills, they still wore dry suits, which would have been essential to survival in the cold water on the chance that they would capsize.
"We were sitting pretty low with the extra dry firewood we opted to haul over," Kripaitis said, noting that the wind picked up and whitecaps formed. "We were happy when we reached the shore!
"Our paddle back on Sunday afternoon was smooth as glass…just the sparkling rain droplets decorating the surface!"
Despite the blustery weather, "We had a great weekend and stayed dry and warm with the right gear!" she said.
"A rainy day camping on Priest is better than a sunny day in town."
- Forest Service info on Priest Lake.
PADDLING — The Ins and Outs of the Pend Oreille River Water Trail will be detailed in a program for the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club, 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 24, at the Mountain Gear Corporate Office, 6021 E. Mansfield in Spokane.
Pend Oreille County Community Development Director Mike Lithgow will team with Ray Entz, the Wildlife and Terrestrial Resources director for the Kalispel Tribe, to present a travelogue on the newly established water trail.
The 70-mile route includes historical, cultural and geological features in addition to access points and recreational opportunities between Newport and Boundary Dam.
- See a gallery of photos from a SCKC paddling trip along the Pend Oreille River.
WATERSPORTS — John Roskelley, best know for his mountaineering achievements, is giving a free program on his new guidebook to Paddling the Columbia River at 7 p.m. on Sept.30 at the Spokane REI store.
- Seating is limited. Reserve a spot in advance.
- See my July story Roskelley's efforts in researching the guidebook.
Here's more info:
The Columbia River is a water trail to adventure. Thousands of miles of rugged shoreline, countless sandy bays, and long stretches of remote wilderness make this great river an explorer's dream, whether just for an afternoon on a reservoir behind one of its 13 main stem dams or being swept along by over 100,000 cfs of swift current on one of the Columbia's free-flowing sections. Paddling the Columbia from source to mouth is the extreme edge, a challenge not unlike climbing Everest or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Fortunately, the river is a resource that can be enjoyed in short sections on a weekend or holiday for a few hours to a long day throughout its 1200 mile length. The new "Paddling the Columbia: A Guide to all 1200 Miles of our Scenic & Historical River" by Spokane's John Roskelley provides the paddler with knowledge - the fundamental element needed to take action and enjoy an adventure.
WATERSPORTS — The older Bauer boys know how to make a canoe go fast, and the younger nephews are clearly into the game even at the end of the Spokane River Classic endurance event on Saturday.
Sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club, the event was for all abilities of paddlers with canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
But this boat stood out in the crowd, as you can see by their faces.
Have you ever paddled a canoe this hard — for the fun of it?
PADDLING — Some very fast paddlers streaked across the Spokane River today in the debut of the Spokane River Classic, and they were followed by some not-so fast canoeists, kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders and one rowboat.
But it appeared as though everyone had a blast, as you can see in my photo gallery from today's event.
WATERSPORTS — More than 100 canoeists, kayakers and stand up paddleboarders of all skill levels are registered so far for the Spokane River Classic set for Saturday, Aug. 23.
The event will start at McKinstry near Gonzaga University with participants heading out on a 1.3-mile citizens course or a 5.4-mile endurance course.
The Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club revived the classic this year to emphasize boating participation on the river and the need for public access to the river for boaters.
In addition to paddling, the lawn area around McKinstry is being transformed into a Spokane River party. Fueling the festivities for adults will be a beer garden courtesy of River City Brewery, barbeque from Big Daddy’s, Camargo’s taco truck, and prizes for participants.
Kids will be fueled with a root beer stand, popcorn and an interactive play area that includes making authentic fish prints.
WATERSPORTS — A launch site for drift boats, paddling craft and rafts has been remodeled and reopened at the stateline just downstream from the I-90 Bridge.
The Stateline access site includes parking and native landscaping planted by the Spokane Conservation District and volunteer groups on 800 feet of shoreline, said Andy Dunau of Spokane River Forum.
The forum has details about this access site and others on the Spokane River Water Trail website.
WATERSPORTS — No more worrying about getting a lift back to your car at the put-in on Saturdays in July and August.
WATERSPORTS —The 2014 Open Canoe Slalom National Championship starts today and runs through Sunday (June 29) near Missoula on the Blackfoot River upstream of the Roundup Fishing Access Site off Montana Highway 200.
Spectators can view the American Canoe Association event for free in the designated area upstream of the Roundup Bridge.
For information about open canoe whitewater racing in general, see aca.whitewater-slalom.us.
Saturday features four "Citizen-class" races in which noncompetitive or inexperienced paddlers can run the course in a tandem canoe with an experienced racer.
WATERSPORTS — The Spokane River's flows have subsided enough for the spill gates at Post Falls Dam to be closed, Avista Utilities reports. That has allowed river recreation to open for the season starting today in the area between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boater safety cables that are just upstream of the Post Falls Dam.
The City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park is opening to the public today. The swim beach will open later this week after the parks department removes fencing, installs swim safety bouys and lifeguards are scheduled. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, and on average about June 22.
Upgrades underway this summer at the South Channel Dam adjacent to Q’emiln Park will require visitors to stay out of some areas near the construction.
The classes are taught by qualified instructors as follows:
May 18 – Flatwater solo and tandem canoeing.
June 21-22 – Beginning whitewater kayaking.
June 28-29 – Moving water canoeing.
July 16, 19, 20 – Sea kayaking.
Cost for each class is $55 per paddler and participants must become club members.
Sign up: 448-9214, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WATERSPORTS – A chiller and a thriller will be shown at a double-feature program at 7 p.m. tonight, April 28, at Mountain Gear Corporate Office, 6021 E. Mansfield in Spokane Valley.
Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club members will give a program about kayaking in Costa Rica, with head-cam video that captures more excitement than they’d planned.
Also featured is a screening of Cold Water Boot Camp, a must-see video for anyone who recreates around water.
Brave volunteers who jump into frigid water graphically demonstrate the risks of cold water immersion and what boaters and anglers can do to improve their odds of survival if in a similar situation.
PUBLIC LANDS — I've made a few classic canoe and kayak trips in Yellowstone National Park over the years, including the Lewis River to Shoshone Lake (see photo) and on Yellowstone Lake.
But even though I'm a long-time paddler and co-author of the guidebook, Paddling Washington, I can still clearly see a reason to restrict paddling in national parks, where the priority is on preserving natural ecosystems.
It's shocking to see that a Wyoming Congreswoman has introduced a bill that would REQUIRE Yellowstone and Grand Teton national park officials to allow more paddling in the parks.
Here's the scoop from High Country News and a person who knows and write's eloquently on the potential ramifications of the legislation. Check it out.
Called the “River Paddling Protection Act,” the bill has already passed the House of Representatives. It gives the National Park Service three years to change its regulations barring non-motorized boating on rivers and streams. If the agency fails to act in that time, then boating in the two parks will be considered unregulated.
RIVER RUNNING — Every local veteran rafter, kayaker and canoeist knows the recipe: Snow followed by warm temperatures and rain are the ingredients for the brief surge of flows needed for whitewater action on Hangman Creek.
Brownwater action, I mean.
The river spiked from under 200 cfs yesterday to more than 6,000 cfs this morning after last night's downpour on the snowy landscape.
Rafters love these conditions.
Canoeists would be safer to let the flows settle. I personally like paddling the level around 1,200 cfs (see photo).
But it won't be long before Hangman settles down and once again becomes too low to float.
PADDLING — For the 19th year, paddlers from the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club bring in the New Year with an outing on the Little Spokane River. Wednesday was no different, although the temperatures were more on the mild side compared with other years.
Eric Erickson, above, is pictured by canoe partner Juile Titone during the float in 2000. As Titone said, he was "looking determined to reach the potluck-and-wood stove part of the day."
ANGLING — We pause current events for this Landers family fishing flashback….
I just stumbled onto this 1998 photo (above), which brings back fond memories of fishing Badger Lake with my favorite youngest daughter Hillary, and her pal, Emma Scherer.
They were elementary school classmates at the time, but underneath those cute, innocent exteriors they were fish-hooking maniacs.
Advice to parents: Don't miss out on the fun of taking kids fishing.
But doctors treating Marco Lavoie after his rescue in the wilderness of northern Quebec say he may not have survived his four-month ordeal had he not killed and eaten his dog.
Some fascinating points to the story:
- Lavoie, 44, was close to death when a rescue crew found him last week.
- His canoe and vital supplies were destroyed by a bear at the start of a planned two-month trip in August.
- Lavoie's German Shepherd may have saved Lavoei's life by chasing away the bear in the initial attack.
- But three days later, facing the possibility of starvation Lavoie, killed his doting companion with a rock.
- The first words Lavoie reported spoke to medical staff: 'I want to get a new dog.'
Lavoie had lost 90 pounds and was suffering from hypothermia when rescuers found him Wednesday. News reports from Monday indicated he was still in critical condition.
Could you kill your faithful canine companion if you thought it would be the difference between your life and death?
BOATING — The Spokane Parks and Recreation Board apparently has reached an agreement with the Spokane Public Facilities District that may assure maintaining a viable boat take-out point under the Division Street Bridge after the voter-approved $55 million Convention Center expansion project is finished.
But here's a message received tonight from Parks Board member Andy Dunau of the Spokane River Forum:
I’m pleased to be able to share what I believe is good news. Today, the Spokane Parks and Recreation Board passed a resolution that the PFD has agreed to. The resolution addresses items needed to move forward this fall with development activities on Centennial Trail and Spokane River shoreline that are part of the convention center expansion. The section of the resolution that is essential to a put-in/take-out for the water trail reads as follows:
“The Park Board approves the Access in principle and subject to further review and approval design of the Park Board, and further authorizes the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department to be the lead agency in getting the Access permitted, conditioned on the District’s acknowledgement that it will bear all costs and expenses associated with permitting and construction of the Access, including any expenses ordinarily assigned to the City as lead agency for any permitting and/or construction of the Access, up to an amount not exceeding $47,000.”
The PFD verbally agreed to the resolution at the Park Board meeting, and will memorialize their agreement to it in a letter being sent to the Park Board.
We now have in writing a commitment of funds from the PFD, a design that has received broad support (also funded over the summer by the PFD), and Parks and Recreation agreeing to be the lead agency to develop the access. We can now get to the fun part: creating the Spokane River Water Trail Division Street Bridge Access.
Over the past week, intensive hours were committed by both PFD and Parks and Recreation staff and Boards to take this critical step forward. We are very appreciative of their time, effort and support. The Forum would also like to thank Spokane City Council for amending the municipal code last spring to allow this site location to move forward; Avista for their support in developing the design; Spokane Riverkeeper for providing important policy and regulatory guidance; and the many individuals and user groups who are the lifeblood of helping make good things happen.
UPDATE: Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.: Tentative agreement reached on Spokane River boat access at Division Street.
RIVERS — Plans for the voter funded $55-$65 million expansion of the Spokane Convention Center are advancing to the construction stage, but Public Facilities District officials continue to suggest that maintaining viable public river access at Division Street Bridge for rafts, kayaks, paddle boards and outfitters is not their priority.
I wrote about this in April when the designs were being approved.
I wrote about it again today as the PFD readies to begin digging without giving a commitment to a viable boat access when the construction is complete.
RIVERS — An expedition of canoeists and Native American students is leading an upstream effort to advocate construction of a fish ladder to reintroduce chinook salmon runs in the Columbia River above Grand Coulee Dam.
On Aug. 2, five salmon-inspired dugout canoes started their journey up the Columbia River to pay tribute to the salmon no longer able to reach their historic spawning grounds of the Upper Columbia River since the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.
The boats have made it past Chief Joseph Dam last week, paddled up Lake Rufus Woods and completed the portage around Grand Coulee Dam on Saturday. They expected to paddle up Lake Roosevelt to Keller Ferry by Saturday night and then leave there today, headed for Two Rivers at the mouth of the Spokane River by Monday night.
From the confluence of the Spokane and Columbia Rivers, the paddlers will head up the Spokane River to Little Falls — the first dam that blocked salmon from migrating up to Spokane Falls in 1910. Spokane Tribe schoolkids (who helped build one of the dugout canoes) will join the paddle. A public event of some sort is planned at the end of the week. See blog updates here.
The “Sea to the Source” expedition left Astoria, Ore., in an upstream voyage toward Canal Flats, the source of the Columbia River in British Columbia.
The crew consists of five river guides who oversee a river-based environmental education program called Voyages of Rediscovery. They are enlisting the muscle power of Indian Tribes, youths and other supporters along the way.
“The idea behind the canoes and the river expedition is to bring the salmon back to the upper reaches of the Columbia River,” said Adam Wicks-Arshack a guide with Voyages of Rediscovery and environmental educator. “We carved these canoes with thousands of students who’ve had the salmon removed from their culture by Grand Coulee Dam.”
The five dugout canoes were carved at various schools over the past year. For most of the trip they have been paddling two canoes, the “Salmon Savior” a 21-foot ponderosa pine, carved at the Wellpinit Middle and High School on the Spokane Reservation and a larger 33-foot cedar canoe, the “Crying Salmon,” which was carved by the students of Inchelium School on the Colville Reservation.
As the expedition arrives at each school that carved a canoe, Inchelium, Wellpinit, Kettle Falls, and Medicine Wheel Academy of the Community School in Spokane, the canoes will be gifted back to the school and young people who carved them.
“These canoes represent the Salmon,” said Xander Demetrios, a river guide with the expedition. “They have traveled through many hardships from the Pacific Ocean and are nearing their former Spawning Grounds. These will be the first salmon to pass Chief Joe and Grand Coulee in a long time.”
The expedition has canoed more than 545 miles up the Columbia River to Chief Joseph Dam, the first dam without a fish ladder and is approaching Grand Coulee Dam.
The river guides and environmental educators anticipate another 1-2 weeks of paddling to reach the international border between the United States and Canada.
John Zinser, boat builder and river guide, proudly praises the young carvers (see video above). “The students worked every day on these canoes and it is an honor to paddle these salmon canoes which were created with so much energy from so many young people,” he said.
When the expedition arrives at each school the crew is giving presentations about their journey and the importance of salmon and the Columbia River. Most importantly each student will have the opportunity to paddle in the canoes they carved.
This expedition comes in the midst of preparations by the United States and Canada to renegotiate the Columbia River Treaty that governs one of the great rivers of the world. The 1964 Treaty failed to consult with Tribes, First Nations, and the residents of southern British Columbia. The Treaty built 3 treaty dams in British Columbia and the Libby Dam in northwestern Montana, forcing 2000 people from their homes. The Treaty contains only the two purposes of hydropower and flood control.
Tribes and conservationists want a third purpose added to the Treaty: restoring the Columbia River to ecological health including bringing salmon home to waters blocked by dams.
“The Grand Coulee Dam was once considered to be the greatest engineering project the world had ever seen,” noted Wicks-Arshack. “Now let's get started with the greatest eco-engineering project—a fish ladder at the Grand Coulee Dam.”
Voyages of Rediscovery is a program of The River School, a non-profit river based environmental education not for profit. They have been offering educational canoe trips and canoe building opportunities on the Columbia River for the past five years. If you would like to follow the Sea2Source expedition, you can follow their blog and/or facebook page.
FISHING — No vehicles were parked at the Whitman County road pullouts near the bridge put-in for the Rock Creek that gives access to Bonnie Lake the other day. That was our first clue that fishing for perch, crappie and bass could be a little off center of perfect.
My buddy Jim and I paddled my canoe upstream for nearly a mile of serpentine creek, narrowed by summer vegetation growth, and came to a beaver dam just before reaching the lake.
After dragging the canoe over the dam, we paddled into the lake aided by a brisk wind that made uplake travel brisk, but suggested the return could be interesting.
Our first casts revealed we couldn't see our jigs until they were retrieved to about 18 inches or less from the surface. A bloom was on and water clarity was severely compromised.
We caught some perch, crappie, bluegill and bass, but never more than a couple in any given spot. We wrestled with anchoring to stabilize in the wind and we just couldn't dial in a consistent bite.
The only notable catch was one 14-inch crappie; the rest were small.
A beaver ushered us out at twilight, with nighthawks swooping in the sky above, as we paddled pack down the outlet stream past its lodge and dam as if to say they would be enjoying the solitude after we left.
POACHING — State wildlife agents are investigating after a video surfaced showing a group of people in a canoe killing a deer in the waters near Squaxin Island, in southwestern Puget Sound.
KOMO-TV reports the killing of the buck was captured on a 12-minute video, which shows a man swinging at the animal with an oar. The buck swims away but a couple minutes later, a paddler jumps into the water and attempts to drown the deer before another man dives in to assist.
The video ends with the deer being paddled to shore aboard the canoe.
Squaxin Island Tribal Council member Ray Peters says he was disturbed by the video, because that’s not how the tribe harvests deer.
No hunting season is open for deer.
Officials are still trying to identify some of the people in the video.
PADDLING – Registration is open for the excellent annual paddling classes taught by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club:
- Flatwater canoeing for solo or tandem boats is June 5.
- Moving water canoeing is July 13-14.
- Sea kayaking for novice to advanced is July 17, 20 and 21.
- Whitewater kayaking dates are not set.
Each class is $55 per person, except the flatwater canoeing class is a free pre-requisite for the moving water class.
Sign up: (509) 448-9214.
RIVERS – The best time to float the Priest River comes and goes, but the next couple of weeks will be worth checking out.
At its extremes – up to 10,500 cubic feet per second and down to 165 cfs – the river is basically too high for safe passage except for experts or too low to float without dragging a vessel over the rocks.
- Ideal flows for experienced canoeists are in the range of 1,200-4,500 cfs (recorded at the gauge near Priest River, Idaho).
During summer through early fall, when most people would be lured to portions of the river downstream from Priest Lake, the water generally is too low to float without bouncing and scraping along the rocks.
However, inexperienced paddlers running inflatable boats can have a safer, enjoyable float at flows in the 600-1,000 cfs range in the Eight Mile Rapids stretch from McAbee Falls downstream. (See description below.)
Prime times for experienced paddlers farther upstream are:
- Spring runoff period of May and early June, but be especially ready for cold water and alert for new log jams or strainers.
- Early October, a glorious, fall-color period when mosquitoes are gone and flows pick up to the 1,200 cfs range as water is allowed to flow over Outlet Dam to lower Priest Lake to winter levels.
Read on for more details and notes on flows from Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club diaries.
RIVER SPORTS — The 2013 Wenatchee River Festival, set for June 8 based out of Cashmere, Wash., is among the region's few paddling events that brings a wide-ranging paddling community together.
Organizers of the event that's been around in one way or another for a quarter century encourage participation of all river lovers, whether you kayak, raft, or ride the waves on a board, the festival offers a little something for everyone.
This year the festival has added a few new events, as well as brought back activities that were enjoyed in previous years, including clinics, demos and other events). Proceeds from the Silent Auction go to support American Whitewater. Activities include:
- Downriver Kayak Clinic taught by Wet Planet
- Playboat kayak clinic instructed by Jean Luc Robichaux
- SUP clinic instructed by Leavenworth Mountain Sports
- Whitewater rescue instructed by Wave Trek
Races and competitions
- Rodeo Competition
- Washington Kayak Club's Downriver Kayak Race
- Raft Down River Race
- Leavenworth Mountain Sport's SUP Downriver
- Flip-n-Recovery Event
- Throw-rope competition throughout the day
- Demos given by CrossFit Cashmere and Wave Trek
- Silent Auction and Raffle, BBQ and live music
- Displays featuring festival sponsors, vendors and community groups
PADDLING — Canoeists were rescued from Lake Pend Oreille after their boat — filled with three people and a dog — capsized in high winds that blasted Bonner County on Sunday evening, according to the Bonner County Bee.
One person in the canoe managed to swim safely to shore, said Bonner County Sheriff’s Lt. Ror Lakewold.
The other two paddlers clung to pilings supporting the U S Highway 95 Long Bridge, the Bee reported.
A cyclist heard or saw them and called it in, said Lakewold. The call came in about 5 p.m.
All three went to Bonner General Hospital to be checked for hypothermia and were later released, according to Lakewold.
Perhaps this should be emphasized: They all were wearing life jackets, according to the sheriff's report.
RIVERS – Thomas O’Keefe of American Whitewater will update paddlers on the approval for removing Mill Pond Dam on Sullivan Creek and other river-liberating projects in a program for the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club Monday, april 22 7 p.m., at Mountain Gear Corporate Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley.
O'Keefe, AW’s Pacific Northwest stewardship director, will discuss the national group’s regional river conservation efforts, including recent dam removal success stories, revision of national forest plans and the future of river management for the Lochsa River and the rest of the Clearwater drainage.