Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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.
PADDLING — A free program on a British Columbia sea kayaking journey from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island will be presented at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, for the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club at Mountain Gear's corporate office, 6021 E. Mansfield.
The two week adventure of paddling along the exposed coast of Queen Charlotte Sound will be detailed by Roy Massena, who has kayaked extensively in Pacific Northwest waters and has encountered more than his share of challenging conditions.
NOTE DATE: The date for this program was incorrect in today's print version of the announcement.
PADDLING – Four Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club members who survived a close call with a freak flash flood event while kayaking the Green River of Utah will present a free slide and video program on the trip Monday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Mountain Gear Corporate Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley (go north on Fancher Road from Trent and turn right just before the tracks).
Debbie Pierce, Lisa Helmbrecht, Marlene Landis and Susan Luchesi were trapped on a quickly disappearing sand bar out of reach of rescue-attempting park rangers until the flood formed a temporary dam that gave them a short window for escape.
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.”
PADDLING — A kayaker's body was recovered this morning from the Palouse River, according to the following statement released this afternoon by the Whitman County Sheriff.
Alison Webb, 54, who was on the Palouse city council, was found dead early Friday morning, her life apparently claimed by hypothermia after capsizing in the freezing cold.
COLFAX, WA- Authorities have recovered the body of a kayaker who was reported missing late Thursday evening.
At approximately 8pm on Thursday evening, Deputies from the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office were notified of an overdue kayaker near the town of Palouse, WA. The kayaker, Allison E Webb, 54yoa of Palouse, WA, reportedly set out on a late afternoon kayak trip on the Palouse River. When she failed to arrive at her destination, family members became concerned, conducted a brief search and later notified 911.
After Deputies determined that Webb started her float trip near Wellesley Road in Latah County, officials from Idaho were also notified. Due to the extremely cold temperatures search crews from both sides of the border immediately began a ground and aerial search of the river and terrain. Officials from Latah and Whitman Counties searched through the night and into Friday Morning.
At approximately 8:30 Friday morning, search crews from Fairchild Air Force Base (36 Rescue Helicopter) assisting in the effort located the body of a deceased female, later identified as Allison E. Webb. It is believed Webb died after capsizing her kayak and being exposed to the extremely cold overnight temperatures. The exact cause and manner of death will be determined by the Whitman County Coroner’s Office.
Crews from The Latah County Sheriff’s Office, Latah County Search and Rescue, Whitman County Emergency Management, MedStar, Fairchild Air Force Base, Whitman County Sheriff’s Office, Palouse Fire and EMS, Border Patrol, Whitman County Coroner and the American Red Cross all assisted in the search effort.
The edited package of 11 new action-packed films featuring free-skiers, longboarders, snowboarders, mountain bikers, kayakers and rock climbers will be shown:
- Friday, Oct., 11, 7 p.m., at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint. Advance tickets at Outdoor Experience.
- Saturday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m., at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane. Advance tickets at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division, 325-9000.
Films include “Being There,” about fun loving free-skiers taking their sport into the stratosphere. “Endless Roads” follows seven female longboarders winding down in Spain. “La Dura Dura” features rock climbing superstars Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra vying for a first ascent the world’s first 5.15c grade climb.
PADDLING — Sea kayak outfitters are leading paddlers out of the San Juan Islands as well as Bellingham Bay on night-time excursions to see one of the bright little wonders of the sea.
When conditions are right, the stroke of a paddle paints a swath of bioluminescent light that resembles a swish of Tinkerbell's wand.
“When we accidentally paddled over a school of startled juvenile herring, they jumped out of the water looking like kamikaze lightning bugs,” writes Tan Vinh in a story for The Seattle Times.
The natural spectacle of bioluminescence is caused by single-celled planktons that emit light.
Outfitters offering bioluminescent night tours include:
• Community Boating Center in Bellingham will hold its next tours on Sept 5 and 6. $50 per person. 360-714-8891 orboatingcenter.org.
• Discovery Sea Kayaks in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, does tours around Griffin Bay. $99 per person. 866-461-2559 or discoveryseakayak.com.
Read on for Vinh's first-person experience.
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 — Local rafter Tanner Grant compressed his recent six-day whitewater rafting trip on Idaho's main Salmon River into this 11-minute video, listing all the rapids in the 80 miles from Corn Creek to Carey Creek for river runners to view.
He also succinctly shows some of the attractions along the River of No Return from pictographs and hot springs to Buckskin Bill's Museum.
Note that when they launched on July 24 the river was running at about 2,800 cfs, which is considered a low-water run.
PADDLING — Emily Jackson, 23, — severely pregnant with her first child — conquered whitewater three weeks before she's due to have her water break.
Jackson, a two-time world champion from Rock Island, Tenn., won the women's freestyle whitewater kayaking title last weekend in the Payette River Games.
The event was held at Kelly's Whitewater Park in Cascade, Idaho.
Jackson's freestyle performance in the video above starts at 2:18 minutes.
PADDLING — Spokane kayaker Brian Jamieson and some friends had a hoot paddling the slick granite slides of Lion Creek near Priest Lake on Saturday, as you can see in his helmet-cam video above.
Lion Creek is a popular destination for Priest Lake visitors, who have worn out the bottoms of many swimsuits slipping down the slides on their butts in lower water.
KAYAKING — Here's a wet glimpse of North Idaho's Lightning Creek at flows of 3,100 cfs on Thursday through the lens of Celene Olgeirsson, who was with a Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club group.
WHITEWATER — A 22-year-old North Carolina man has died in a kayaking accident on the Payette River in Idaho, north of Boise, the Associated Press reports.
Boise County officials say Eric Weigel of Asheville, N.C., was kayaking the North Fork of the Payette with two friends on Wednesday afternoon when he apparently flipped over and hit his head, losing consciousness.
The sheriff’s department tells KBOI-TV that Weigel was upside down in his kayak for several minutes before friends could get him to shore. He died at the scene.
The sheriff’s office says Weigel and his friends were on the final day of a 21-day whitewater rafting trip when the accident happened.
The North Fork of the Payette is known for its challenging Class V rapids.
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.
ADVENTURE SPORTS — Fitness junkies who enjoy trail running, mountain biking, paddling and other outdoors sports will love the big event coming up based out of Farragut State Park.
Adventure Sports Week Idaho features 14 different races and clinics over eight days, June 2 - 9. Racers are traveling from long distances to join locals at this event, said North Idaho organizer David Adlard.
Trail runs include a June 2 Beaches 2 Boulders with 5k, 10k and 9 mile fun runs and the
June 8 Deepwater half marathon, marathon, 50 k and 52 mile races.
Mountain bikers can zero in on the Mad Dash races, 4 or 6hours, on June 2.
Adventure races set for June 8-9 combine a variety of sports and skills on June 8-9.
Kids are offered their own adventure race, plus a clinic on orienteering and adventure racing.
The week includes prizes, barbecue and other treats.
Plus, “Farragut is beautiful,” Adlard said.
Info: (208) 664-0135.
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
The dark water of the New River slips silently downstream, continuing to carry my kayak forward whenever I lift my paddles, allowing me to float quietly for a few minutes absorbing the sights and sounds and the lush North Florida landscape around me.
Tall Tupelo trees, with their bright green leaves and graceful branches, reach out over the orchid-like blooms of flowers that bloom along the riverbanks.
The air is heavy with moisture but the morning is cool, the sun hidden in the low clouds. The sound of birds is all around us.
We put in at a bend in the river at Tate’s Hell State Forest, near the small town of Carrabelle, beside a narrow steel bridge that rumbles and whines when vehicles cross on Gully Branch Road. Knobby cypress knees poke up out of the thick black mud that sucks at our sandals as we step into our kayaks.
We push away and the world immediately closes around us.
When most people think of Florida, postcard images of broad white beaches, high rise condominiums and crowds come to mind. And that is certainly true for most of the state. But the northernmost part, the panhandle of the peninsula, is a unique blend of pinewood forest, smooth sandy coastline and fertile estuaries. Green, lush, forest gives way to sandy beaches and streams and rivers, like the New River, feed fresh water into surrounding watersheds and eventually into Apalachicola Bay. This part of Florida, Franklin County, is sometimes called 'the forgotten coast' and it does feel as though the worst of progress—the noise, the crowds, the congestion and careless treatment of the natural world—has raced past. A blessing, I think, in this case.
I realize the rest of my group has moved ahead, around the next bend, and I am alone. There is a sense of mystery in the moment. Paddling along the surface of the water, even though the morning is cool, I watch for snakes at the edge of the river. On the drive to the park I caught sight of an alligator in a small stream beside the road and I know alligators can be found in the water but I’m relieved that they stay out of sight while I am there. I see an eagle flying overhead, one sharp eye trained on me, I’m sure. Black bear, cats and countless other wild creatures call this place home and I wonder what they make of the people who come to play.
We pull out of the water just as a soft rain begins to fall. After the kayaks are loaded and we are back in the river guide’s van, I look out the window. Already there is a break in the sky and a patch of bright blue shines through. And the black water of the river, relieved again of the weight and interruption of interlopers, moves silently on.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
FISHING — Men paddling kayaks are putting to shame the myth that you need a big boat, diesel fumes and and a big run from a port to catch a halibut.
Check out this story by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine about a Seattle angler who landed a 'but of more than 80 pounds from his 14-foot kayak.
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 — Whitewater river runners, anglers and other groups and agencies in Idaho and Washington that rely on streamflow gauges maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey are breathing a sigh of relief.
USGS had announced that as of today (May 1) operation of “up to 375 streamgages nationwide would be discontinued due to budget cuts as a result of the $85 billion across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. Additional streamgages may be affected if partners reduce their funding to support USGS streamgages.”
But agency managers worked out ways to keep the immediate closures down to three in Idaho and none in Washington. One closure of note to anglers: 13337500 South Fork Clearwater River near Elk City.
Click “continue reading” below for the explanations I received to my queries.
Streamgages are used nationwide to predict and address drought and flood conditions by monitoring water availability. The USGS and over 850 Federal, State, and local agencies cooperatively fund the USGS streamgaging network, which consists of more than 8,000 streamgages.
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.
RIVERS – Lynn and Stan Mrzygod will recount their recent 30-day, 300-mile, self-guided winter excursion through the wild rapids in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in a slide program sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club on Monday, 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear corporate offices, 6021 E. Mansfield in Spokane Valley.
This ought to be an excellent way to chill out after a busy weekend.
RIVERS — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a new 42-year license for Boundary Dam on the Pend Oreille River downstream from Metaline Falls. Boundary, built in 1967, is the largest hydroelectric dam owned by Seattle City Light and produces 25 percent of the city's electric power.
Recreationists will benefit from several conditions of the relicensing process and negotiations, underway since 2004. Kayakers in particular are applauding the concurrent federal approval for removing Millpond Dam on Sullivan Creek, a tributary to the Pend Oreille River.
Millpond Dam is a 134-foot-long, 55-foot-high concrete dam with an 850-foot-long, 10-foot-high earthen dike that creates a 63-acre reservoir just downstream from Sullivan Lake. Millpond Dam has blocked Sullivan Creek since 1909.
The Washington Department of Ecology approved a permit for dam removal last year.
Removal should be completed within the next five years.
Dam removal settlement talks began in 2008 when American Whitewater, the US Forest Service, and the State of Washington successfully challenged a federal decision to give up jurisdiction over the dam, which had not generated power since 1956, according to Kevin Colburn, writing on the American Whitewater website.
Seattle City and Light eventually agreed to a settlement in March of 2010 to fund the removal of Millpond Dam as a condition for relicensing Boundary Dam.
- New recreational trails on the east side of the reservoir.
- New non-motorized boat access with parking and facilities at the Metaline Falls Portage.
- Upgrades to six dispersed recreation sites along the Boundary reservoir, including sanitation systems, picnic tables, fire rings and watercraft land and tie-up areas.
- Improvements to Metaline Park in the town of Metaline.
- New interpretation and education sites throughout the Boundary project area.
The removal of Millpond Dam also is expected to benefit native redband and cutthroat trout, as well as mountain whitefish, by improving stream temperatures, restoring sediment to the areas downstream of the dam, and likely restoring fish passage.
In addition, the dam removal will expose whitewater rapids not seen for over a century. American Whitewater produced images predicting what the restored area might look like.
“Our re-licensing process was unique,” said Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. “We undertook a process of close collaboration with all stakeholders to reach an agreement for the protection and enhancement of native fish and wildlife; the expansion of recreational and cultural amenities; and to ensure the water quality of the Pend Oreille River and its tributaries.”
- Began generating power in 1967
- Cost to build: $94 million
- 740’ long and 340’ tall
- A thin-arch structure, it is 32’ thick at the base and just 8’ thick at the crest
- Produces up to 1,040 megawatts of power
- Details can be found on the gage description secion of the AW Sullivan Creek webpage.
RIVERS — Photographer Gary Lane of Riggins, who does Salmon River rafting with Wapiti River Guides in Idaho, captured this image of a rare natural phenomenon that occurs in slow moving water in cold climates, such as January in the River of No Return Wilderness.
Ice circles are thin and circular slabs of ice that rotate slowly in the water. Generally they form in eddy currents. In fluid dynamics, an eddy is the swirling of a fluid and the reverse current created when the fluid flows past an obstacle or disturbance to the flow, such as a bay.
Some mystics have seized on the “power” of ice circles. Some wackos connect them with UFOs.
See other instances of ice circles:
RUNNING RIVERS — My wife and I and a dozen friends in our would-be rafting group feel your pain if you didn't draw a coveted permit to reserve a launch date for one of Idaho's four famous wilderness whitewater rivers.
We bombed, too.
The competition is stiff for the annual drawing to run the Salmon, Middle Fork, Selway or Hells Canyon of the Snake. But it's funny how some groups never get drawn and others seem to luck out and draw a permit every year.
Everyone who applied this year has received a query from the Forest Service, which is considering a weighted lottery for river permits roughly similar to that used in most states for issuing hunting permits. In other words, every time you apply and don't get selected, you gain chances that give you better odds in the next year's drawing.
It' a good idea? If you have a stake in this, read these details from the Forest Service and email them your thoughts.
North Idaho outdoorsman Todd Hoffman said he's already replied the Salmon-Challis National Forest with these suggestions for a weighted lottery:
- Cap preference points to five.
- Limit trips to one per person per year.
- Allow pooling of applications and preference points.
- Set preference points to zero for any one who draws a permit or who participates in another permit holders trip.
- Release any unused commercial launches to private boaters.
- Create an online follow up lottery for cancellations.
- Implement smaller caps for trip sizes, but create more launches.
ADVENTURE TRAVEL – A program on kayaking rivers in France will be featured Monday (Feb 25) at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear Corporate Office at 6021 E. Mansfield, Spokane.
The program is sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.
Club members Jim Nelson and Charlene Longworth will discuss their river adventures on Corsica, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea.
WATER SPORTS – A program to create an environment of healthy adventure for healing active duty and veteran service members through paddle sports will be introduced in Spokane on Monday, Jan. 28.
The Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club is teaming with Team River Runner, a national non-profit group, to open canoeing and kayaking opportunities for disabled vets, said Celene Olgeirsson, SCKC spokeswoman.
The program starts at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear Corporate Office, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave., in Spokane Valley.
PADDLING — The artificial wave that has become a fixture in downtown Missoula and attracted kayakers from across the nation needs emergency repairs.
Brennan’s Wave was completed in 2006 and has served as a site for the U.S. Kayak Team’s Olympic Trial and the Montana Whitewater Championships, according to a story in the Missoulian.
Trent Baker, the spokesman for the nonprofit organization that funded the wave’s construction and oversees an endowment for its maintenance, says the wave has a giant crack in its middle chute.
The Missoulian reports runoff flows in the Clark Fork River likely caused the erosion.
Baker’s nonprofit has $20,000 to put toward fixing the crack but the repairs are expected to cost $50,000.
The group is seeking donations.