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Paddling, cycling programs presented by local adventurers

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — I'm having a difficult time deciding which of these free programs I'll check out on Monday evening:

 Bicycling under the Midnight Sun on Norway’s Lofoten Islands, program by Chuck and Wendy Huber for the Spokane Mountaineers, Monday, 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear Corporate Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield.

Canoeing the South Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories, a video look back at an epic 360-mile club trip in one of North America’s more remote waterways, by Dick and Kathy Spencer for the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, 7 p.m., at Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland.

Waterfowling by canoe is budget hunter’s dream trip

HUNTING — John Roland retrieves my duck while we were waterfowling by canoe today. 

Who needs a dog?

Best of all, after the hunt I sent him back to his master and let her feed him.

Paddler program features trip down Georgia’s Chattahoochee River

CANOEING/KAYAKING – Long-distance paddler Jim Payne will give a presentation on his trip down Georgia’s Chattahoochee River to the Gulf of Mexico on Monday Oct. 24, 7 p.m., at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland.

The free program is sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club .

A clear vision for the future of paddling

CANOEING — Finally, we're getting transparency in the sports of canoeing and kayaking.

Denver based See Through Canoe offers the clear alternative to your canoeing and kayaking needs with the Transparent Canoe/Kayak.

Comprised of transparent Lexan the Transparent Canoe/Kayak from Denver, Colorado based See Through Canoe is 11 feet long, weighs 40 pounds and can carry two people snuggly.

The manufacturer says the Transparent Canoe uses the same clear polycarbonate used in jet-fighter cockpit canopies and is fastened to a lightweight anodized aluminum frame that helps keep the weight down.

Cost: $1,475 with two double-headed paddles, water bailer, and two polyurethane floatation bags. Bikini-clad model not included.

But you'll have no place to hide in this see-through canoe if you hit a rock and rip a hole in the bottom.

Meet local paddlers for feast, films, gear swap

CANOEING/KAYAKING – Get a flavor for the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club as members gather for the annual potluck, awards and gear swap plus a filmfest of videos from recent club trips.

The free event (bring a potluck dish) is Friday Sept. 23, 6:30 p.m. at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland.

Info:  Ken Stallman, 991-8494, goldcreekbuilding@comcast.net

Drawdowns begin at Inland Northwest reservoirs

LAKES — Avista Utilities and the Corps of Engineers are beginning fall drawdowns that change the look of the lakes and rivers downstream.

Lake Coeur d’Alene’s annual drawdown began Tuesday to gradually take the summer level of 2,128 feet down to 2,127 by the end of September. The winter level of 2,122 feet should be reached by the end of December.

Priest Lake’s drawdown begins in the middle of October, marking the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on the Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.

Priest Lake is lowered relatively quickly by 3 feet to its winter level by early November.

Lake Pend Oreille’s slow drawdown is set to begin soon, but not until Idaho Fish and Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration meet this week to negotiate a target level. Idaho Fish and Game mainly is concerned about maintaining water levels for optimum kokanee spawning. 

Preliminary results from late summer surveys indicate the lake’s kokanee continue an encouraging recovery from their crash, officials said Friday.

Multi-sport race to debut at Plante’s Ferry

EVENTS — A new multi-sport race in the Spokane Valley will put three-person teams to the test of paddling on the Spokane River, mountain biking on Beacon Hill and running on the Centennial Trail.

The Plante’s Ferry Adventure Race is set for Sept. 18, sponsored by the Spokane Valley Junior Soccer Association.

PFAR is open to teams of three or individuals. Participants must be age 14 or older. Categories include Youth (14-18),

Friends, Family, Ladies and Corporate. Cost: $99 per team or $49 individual.

Register and get more online.

Idaho’s invasive species sticker not transferrable from boat to boat

BOATING — Idaho’s $7 invasive species sticker, which is required on all boats and inflatables longer than 10 feet, cannot be transferred from one vessel to another, Idaho Parks and Recreation officials say.

A story in the Sunday Outdoors section (Aug. 7) suggested otherwise, noting that some boaters were laminating the stickers for more practical attachment such as a cord or zip tie, especially in the case of their rafts.

“Vendors that offer convenient solutions to affixing them to inflatable rafts with rope rigging are doing just that – providing a convenient solution to affixing them to a designated vessel,” said Jennifer Blazek, department spokeswoman in Boise.

But she advised, “The rules are still the rules. The sticker is non-transferrable.” Here's the Idaho Code to prove it.

She acknowledged that nothing on the sticker says it can’t be transferred, but said it’s stated in the rules.

Beyond that, she said the fee is for a good cause dear to the hearts of all boaters.

“Contributions to the Idaho Invasive Species Fund are put to service protecting our coveted waters from invasive species that can devastate a recreational hotspot in a year or less,” she said. “It’s an important program that should be taken seriously.”

Cast your opinion on Pend Oreille River Water Trail plan

BOATING — Officials pondering the Pend Oreille River Water Trail Concept Plan are seeking comments through the month in an online survey.

The plan would help develop and promote water access, activities and tourism on a 70-mile stretch of the river from the Newport area downstream to Boundary Dam.

The PORTA website  includes a summary of the plan along with an interesting map and description of the Water Trail. 

Public comments and suggestions about the project can be directed to Mike Lithgow, Pend Oreille County Community Development Department or Susan Harris, Executive Director, Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance (PORTA) until Sept. 1.

The Water Trail has been a three-year project. 

Agencies and organizations participating in the Water Trail development currently include the USFS, BLM, National Park Service, Towns of Newport, Cusick, Metaline and Metaline Falls, Ione, WDFW, DNR, PUD, Pend Oreille County Community Development Department, WSU Extension Office, Map Metrics, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Kalispel Natural Resources Department, SCL Boundary Dam Project, and Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance.

PDO Water Trail to be unveiled at open house

BOATING — Three years in the making, a Pend Oreille River Water Trail plan covering 70 miles of the river in northeastern Washington will be served up — along with snacks and beverages — at an open house meeting Thursday (Aug. 4), 5 p.m.-7 p.m., at the Camas Center, 1821 N. LeClerc Rd., northeast of Usk, Wash. (See map.)

This the plan focuses on the Pend Oreille County stretch of the river, including Z Canyon and Peewee Falls. The entire river is 130 miles long originating from Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho Panhandle flowing northwesterly — unusual for a major U.S. River — until it joins the Columbia River in southeastern British Columbia.  

Maps of the Water Trail will be on display and smaller maps will be shared.

Kayaks will be displayed by Bear Naked Adventures of Newport, Wash..

Other exhibitors include U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, PORTA, WSU Extension, Map Metrics, National Park Service, Kalispel Tribe and Pend Oreille PUD — all partners of interest to future Water Trail users.

The concept plan for the Pend Oreille River Water Trail will be available.

Take a survey during the August public comment period.

Info: Susan Harris of PORTA (509) 447-5286, email susan@porta-us.com.

New event gives kids a shot at the good kind of paddling

PADDLING — A boat-load of fun is awaiting youngsters during a new free event that will let them paddle canoes, whiewater kayaks, sea kayaks, invlatable kayaks — as well as the latest rage: stand-up paddle boards.

Paddle, Splash and Play is set for on July 30, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Nine Mile Recreation Area in Riverside State Park downstream from Nine Mile Dam.

The equipment and assistance in using the boats will be provided by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club, Mountain Gear and Spokane Parks and Recreation.

Visitors who have their own life jackets are encouraged to bring them, as there could be a shortage at times on site.

CURIOUS about Stand Up Paddling?

The photo above shows Rob Casey, author of " Stand Up Paddling: Flatwater to Surf and Rivers," recently published by Mountaineers Books.

Pend Oreille Poker Paddle postponed

RIVER RUNNING — Due to high water and related health and safety issues, the 30th annual Pend Oreille County Poker Paddle has been rescheduled from July 16-17 to Aug. 27-28.

Info: Greater Newport Area Chamber and Visitors Bureau website.

Little Spokane River moves paddlers along

PADDLING — The Little Spokane River's flows are still unseasonably high, but they've dropped to a pleasant level.  I joined a group of canoeists Sunday at flows of 300 cfs and we effortlessly floated from St. George's School to the takeout near the confluence of the Spokane River in 2.5 hours — that includes a little slough exploring.

Some trees were down on the water, but we found big gaps and easy maneuvered past them.

Remember, Washington's new Discover Pass is required for parking at facilities along the Little Spokane River and other state park facilities.

The Little Spokane River is a natural area with additional rules beyond those at most state parks.

1. All use of the river must be by a device that keeps passengers out of the water. In other words, canoes, kayaks, and rafts are acceptable; inner-tubes, air mattresses, or swimming are not.

2. No alcoholic beverages are allowed on the Little Spokane.

3. Keep your pets elsewhere. They do not belong in the Little Spokane Natural Area.

4. Of course, please take home whatever you bring. Do not litter. Isn't that obvious?

5. Because it is a natural area, please do not disturb the wildlife in any way. Fishing is allowed (guess they aren't considered wildlife…) but not from shore.

6. Wear your personal floatation device at all times.

Don't have your own canoe or kayak? Here are sources for renting them:

  • Mountain Gear, 325-9000.
  • REI, 328-9900.
  • Riverside State Park, (509) 465-5064.

Royal honeymooners resort to paddling

CANOEING — Prince William and wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been muscling their way through the Prince Edward Island portion of their Royal Tour of Canada this week.

First they competed against each other in Dragonboat races, digging in with paddles in time with large teams of 15 other paddlers in 50-foot-long canoes.

Then they launched on a more peaceful a canoe tour with elder Francois Paulette, above left, from the Fort Smith area at Lake Blatchford, Canada, lodge on Tuesday.

Local paddlers offer canoe-kayak clinics

Sea kayaking, July 13 evening indoor class followed by July 16-17 session at Medical Lake, for beginners as well as seasoned paddlers.

Whitewater kayaking, July 16-17 on Spokane River.

• Cost for all clinics: $55 per person per class, plus $20 club membership.

• Preregistration required: Diane Adams, 448-9214 or email dianecadams@asisna.com

Canoe Classic moves from Spokane River to flatwater

PADDLING — The annual Spokane River Canoe Classic, normally set on its namesake stream, has been moved to Liberty Lake this year because of the dangerously high river flows.
The event is set for Saturday, beginning with registration at 9 a.m. followed by the race start at 11 a.m. at Liberty Lake County Park. The race will be followed by a free post-race barbecue, said Phil Bridgers of Mountain Gear, which has sponsored the event for more than two decades.
Paddlers in canoe and kayaks will have a choice of paddling one or two loops on a course to be set up on the lake, Bridgers said.
Known for awarding plenty of ribbons in various divisions as well as for lottery prize drawings, the classic is a popular way for families to kick off their Fathers Day weekend.
Cost: $20 a person.
To preregister, download a form.
Info: Mountain Gear, 325-9000.
See a slide show from a few years ago when the event was held on its normal route from Corbin Park in Post Falls downstream to Plante's Ferry Park.

Riverside State Park plans forest thinning

STATE PARKS — Preliminary plans to thin some forest areas in Riverside State Park to reduce fire danger and the spread of bark beetle infestations will be presented at a public meeting tonight, 6 p.m., at the Shadle Park Public Library. 

Park officials say the plans will be formalized before work would begin this fall and winter.

Stand up paddling opportunities coming this week

PADDLING — Catch the new wave of paddle sports with my Sunday Outdoors feature story about the sport than combines elements of canoeing and surfing.

Then consider signing up for one of the special presentations or classes to be offered in Spokane this week by Seattle Stand up paddling instructor Rob Casey.


Free stand up paddling presentation at REI

What: Free presentation on stand up paddle boarding, dealing with gear, launching and basic techniques.

Who: By Rob Casey, author of ‘Stand Up Paddling Flatwater to Rivers and Surf’ (pictured).

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Where: REI, 1125 N. Monroe St.

Sign-up:rei.com/event/22959/session/28402 (space limited)

On-water lessons offered

Author Rob Casey is offering three-hour stand up paddle boarding lessons on local waters Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during his book tour through Spokane.

Class size: five or less

Costs: $80-$100 depending on level

Sign-up: (206) 465-7167, salmonbaypaddle.com

Stand up resources

Spokane: Mountain Gear, 325-9000; moutaingear.com

Coeur d’Alene:Coeur d’Alene Paddle Board Co., (208) 292-4156; cdapaddleboard.com

Missoula: Strongwater, (406) 721-2437; strongwaterkayak.com

Paddlers: keep eye out for thirsty trees at Barker Bridge

SPOKANE RIVER — With a $3,500 boost from the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club's "access fund," the City of Spokane Valley has made improvements to the boater access area on the north side of the new Barker Road Bridge, as our S-R staffer Nina Culver reported last week

Club members have left a few buckets at the site and they encourage river visitors to scoop water from the river occasionally and irrigate the trees and shrubs planted at the site. The new plantings will need some nursing to help them get started and keep growing when the summer weather heats up.

Landscaping nears completion at Barker Bridge river access site

SPOKANE RIVER — When the spring runoff subsides and more paddlers turn their attention to the Spokane River, they'll be pleasantly surprised to see the improvements the City of Spokane Valley has been making to the Spokane River access site on north side of the new Barker Bridge.
The site has been regraded, erosion measures taken, trees and shrubs planted.
"All that's left is to have it seeded and put up signs," said Terry Miller of the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, which donated $3,500 to the access project.

Experience Riverside State Park event set for Sunday

STATE PARKS - Although Riverside State Park is a stunning gem of recreational opportunity along the Spokane River on the west side of Spokane, most people don't know half of what if offers.

That's why the Riverside State Park Foundation  and park staff are inviting the public to sample more than a dozen organized activities at seven park venues during an ambitious free Experience Riverside State Park event Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

The list of activities includes horse and pony rides, orienteering, fun run, guided bike rides and hikes, kayak and canoe rides, ATV rides, kids activities and fur-trader encampment tours.

Venues are the equestrian area, Bowl & Pitcher, military runway, ORV park, Spokane House, park headquarters and the Nine Mile Recreation Site.

Check out a map and complete list of activities.

If you're game for it all, you can get a punch card stamped at each site and be eligible for prizes.

The sites also will have educational opportunities, such as water safety tips, Centennial Tail information, and a look at proposed park renovation plans. 

Paddlers, rafters cancel 2011 Spokane River Kickoff

RIVER RUNNING — The annual Spokane River Kickoff event for paddlers and rafters set for April 16 on the Spokane River has been canceled for lack of sponsorship and liability coverage, organizers say.

Many of the participants say they’ll just have an informal gathering to play in the river at Dead Dog Hole at Stateline.

Read on for the announcement and detals by organizers.

Hangman Creek flows ideal for weekend paddlers

RIVER RUNNING — Seven canoeists wearing dry suits had a wet and wonderful trip Sunday on Hangman Creek.

We all agreed that a flow of 1,200 cfs was about as good as this trip would get," reported Dan Hansen. "I’m really glad I didn’t try running it that day it was flowing at 3,400."

"Chris Haralam and I did some more scouting Saturday and felt humbled by a big series of waves about 1.5 miles below the (Qualchan) historic marker. So we moved Sunday’s put-in to the Keevy Road bridge, which is the tail end of those rapids. Still, there was plenty of whitewater.

"It took us almost two hours to go the first two miles because we were doing so much scouting of routes. After that, it was smooth sailing, with quick water and rapids that quickened the pulse without being a real threat. And the canyon is beautiful.

"No one swam, but we all had to make frequent bailers."

Overloaded kayakers tell tale of surviving Grand Canyon

PADDLING — Typically the Grand Canyon is floated by raft because of the length of time it takes to boat the roadless stretch of the Colorado River.

Most trips take 12-21 days to negotiate big whitewater and long stretches of flatwater.

All the skills requirements are amplified for the few self-supported kayakers who attempt to carry all their gear – including the required “groover” and fire pan.

But Scott Sills and Mike Copeland proved it could be done in a 16-day December adventure they launched in creek boats stuffed with 250 pounds of gear.

They’ll present a program on the trip (and tell whether they could Eskimo roll a kayak that heavy in the canyon’s huge water) Monday, 7 p.m., at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland, sponsored by Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.

Paddlers trying to assure Spokane River access

RIVERS — Members of the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, pictured above unloading their boats at the popular Spokane River Centennial Trail access at Mission and Flora on Sunday, are working to assure that the access won't be gobbled up by development plans.

The access is important for Spokane River paddlers using the Sullivan Rapids area as well as for all Valley users of the Centennial Trail.

Club members have received assurances from city officials have said the access will remain open this summer during the construction of the planned extension of Indiana Ave., where a roundabout will be built.

The club also is optimistic that plans can be drawn up to assure the access will be improved rather than degraded by future development.

Get Spokane Whitewater Park updates by e-mail

PADDLING — Supporters of the proposed Spokane River Whitewater Park in Peaceful Valley are still plugging along at getting approval for all the various permits.

Spokane Parks and Recreation Department had organized an e-mail list to help people stay up to date on progress. 

Click here to sign up.

Incidentally, the Friends of the Falls website hasn't been updated in a long time.

Spokane River Water Trail discussed

RIVERS — Andy Dunau, Executive Director of the Spokane River Forum, will discuss the effort to develop the recreation potential of the Spokane River Water Trail in a meeting with the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club Monday, 7 p.m., at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland.

According to Dunau, the proposed trail incorporates the following principles:

  • Environmental river stewardship.
  • Honoring historic and cultural resources.
  • Supporting community development and healthy living.

Paddler shares Hangman Creek scouting report

PADDLING — Spokane paddler and guidebook author Dan Hansen couldn't find a scouting report for a stretch of Hangman Creek at high water, so he set out  by foot on Sunday to find out for himself.

Hansen hiked the 10-mile stretch from the Qualchan Historical Monument site downstream to Valley Chapel Road and found excellent paddling water — with a few big rapids to be aware of — at a flow of 3,500 cubic feet per second.  Hansen figures skilled paddlers could negotiate that stretch of Hangman Creek down to about half of that flow.

"This time of year, Hangman Creek generally flows at less than 200 cubic feet per second. But rain on snow can make the water spike, presenting an opportunity for paddlers," Hansen said.
When last week's rain-on-snow event caused the creek's flow more than double to 4,000 cfs in just a few hours the evening of Jan. 13-14, the river was particularly dangerous as it spewed ice chunks up on to the banks and into fields.  Two days later, it was muddy by good for paddling.  In a few days, the rush will be over.

See Dan Hansen's Facebook page video report of Hangman Creek at 3,500 cfs.

River runners rev up to soggy forecast

PADDLING — The rain-on-snow event that's making Inland Northwest roads and landscapes a mess is an opportunity to behold for paddlers and rafters. 

E-mails were buzzing today with the possibility of a rare opportunity this weekend to run boatable flows down Hangman Creek and the Palouse River.

If the forecast hold true, the rivers will be running big, brown and ugly with runoff, perfect for skilled paddlers properly dressed in dry suits and PFDs.

Barker Bridge squanders river’s potential

SPOKANE RIVER — The City of Spokane Valley and the entire region apparently got short-changed in the $11 million Barker Road Bridge construction project.

City officials turned their backs on citizens and agencies that tried to work from the beginning of the project to improve public access to the river.   As these photos show, the post-construction site is eroded and the river access is even worse that it was BEFORE the city spent $11 million.

Anglers can forget launching a drift boat here.    Now that the City of Spokane Valley is walking away from the project, you need courage just to launch a canoe at Barker Bridge.

Currently there’s room to park on the sides of the bridge, but as the population grows and traffic increases, it’s likely that those parking areas could be eliminated and access rendered virtually impossible.

Is this a way to take advantage of the potential the Spokane River has for improving quality of life and promoting this area as a place to live, work and visit?

I covered this more thoroughly today in my column, Valley’s new Barker Bridge erodes soil, high hopes.   

However, there’s much more to this and the chronic way the city and state agencies – and maybe Avista? —  fail to improve the river and access and the way they fail to even protect what it gives us naturally.

Read on for more details.