Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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 email@example.com
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.
RIVERS — Proposals for providing public access to the Spokane River under the new Sullivan Road Bridge project will be revealed 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 16) in Council Chambers at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave., Suite 101.
The updated Public Access Plan provisions of Spokane Valley's Shoreline Master Program also include details regarding Shelley Lake.
Public access to the river at Sullivan Road is critical to paddlers, including kayakers, canoeists and rafters as well as anglers.
Copies of the Public Access Plan section of the SMP are available on the city website at www.spokanevalley.org by selecting the Planning & Zoning link on the home page, and then the Long Range Planning link.
To sign up for email updates, contact LBarlow@spokanevalley.org or call (509) 720-5335.
RIVER SPORTS — Members of Northwest Whitewater call their New Year Day tradition on the Spokane River the "Only Fools Float the River on the First," event — and they had no shortage of numb skulls aboard this year.
The 20th annual Fools Float on Tuesday included 19 boats and 32 people braving temps that ranged around 23 degrees, reports organizer Paul Delaney.
RIVERS — Plans for replacing Sullivan Road's deteriorating west bridge over the Spokane River apparently include provision for recreational river access, according to canoe, kayaking and rafting groups that have been meeting with Spokane Valley planners.
"Had a very good meeting with engineers and City of the Valley officials last week and it looks like some new access is in the works when the project is done," said Paul Delaney in an email to members of Northwest Whitewater.
City planners will explain the project in detail during a public presentations at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Jan. 9 at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.
Waters sports enthusiasts should be involved with this process to lend their support to keeping river access on the agenda.
OUTDOOR ADVENTURE – The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour will continue its three-day, sold-out run tonight at the Bing Crosby Theater, featuring a series of two dozen outdoor adventure films brilliantly displayed through the Bing’s new, just-installed, state-of-the art projector and $12,000 viewing screen.
(Coming this month: a new $50,000 surround-sound audio system).
The eclectic assortment of outdoor films has displayed some stellar adventures, including the chilling drama of a kayaker nearly drowning as a wild river pinned him and his boat to a boulder in Flow Hunters, and unbelievable skills, such as mountain biker Danny MacAskill riding obstacles through a steel plant in Industrial Revolutions.
The biggest loser film from the Friday night offerings might be 5 Races, 5 Continents featuring prolonged interviews (largely unintelligible) with ultra-runner Kilian Jornet through the 2011 running season to some of the world's most demanding races, none of which were explained.
If I had not hiked the 110-mile Tour du Mont Blanc in France, Italy and Switzerland this summer, I would not have had any idea what this film was about.
Best quote from Friday night's films came from disabled rock climber Pete Davis of The Gimp Monkeys:
“The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms any day.”
Top films to show tonight (Saturday) include:
Crossing the Ice (Winner of Grand Prize, People's Choice and Best film on Exploration and Adventure at the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival)
REEL ROCK: Honnold 3.0 (The festival's Best Film on Climbing)
On Sunday, viewers will see a documentary, Wild Bill’s Run, about an adventurous 1972 snowmobile expedition — and crime caper — that attempted to cover 5,000 miles of snow and polar ice between Minnesota and Moscow.
Director Mike Scholtz emailed me this information about a local connection:
"Chris White, in particular, was invaluable. He composed the score on a Moog synthesizer (befitting the film's 70s setting) and did the sound design and final edit for the Banff World Tour."
See the lineup of World Tour Films in the Spokane event.
ADVENTURE — The lineup of films for the three-day run of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Spokane has been decided — just hours before the first films will be shown tonight starting at 7 p.m. at The Bing Crosby Theater.
Friday and Saturday night snows are sold out. Only a few tickets remained for Sunday at last check.
Note: The new owners of The Bing have just installed a new state of the art projector and larger screen to debut with this weekend's film festival showing. Also, for the first time, alcoholic beverages will be sold during the festival event.
World Tour host — better known as the World Tour road warrior — Charla Tomlinson and her traveling partner Lorraine Fung from Canmore, Alberta, met with Phil Bridgers of Mountain Gear at Northern Lights Brewery this afternoon to work through the options. Several films Bridgers wanted to show still were not licensed and a couple more were hung up in U.S. Mail.
But they came up with a good lineup of shows for each night. This is the second week Tomlinson and Fung have been on the road. They'll log 60 hours of driving and 4,000 kilometers of travel from Nov. 8-Dec. 10 to show the World tour around the region.
Read on for the lineup in Spokane, subject to minor modifications.
ADVENTURE — When they talk about "action films," these are the real deal. The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour has hit the road and the next stop is the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane.
About two dozen films will be shown in Spokane over the three-night run at the Bing, including Crossing the Ice (above), which won the Grand Prize, Adventure category prize and the coveted People's Choice Award at the recent nine-day film festival in Banff, Alberta.
Here's the schedule for this year's tour in this region.
Spokane: Friday and Saturday (Nov. 16-17) starting 7 p.m., and Sunday, 6 p.m., at The Bing. Different films at each showing. Tickets $15 a show or $40 for all three sessions, from Mountain Gear, 325-9000 or mountaingear.com.
Sandpoint: Jan. 24-26 at Panida Theater. Info: Mountain Fever, (208) 661-3857.
Coeur d’Alene: Jan. 27-28 at Kroc Center, 1765 W. Golf Course Road. Info: Mountain Fever, (208) 661-3857.
Pullman: Jan. 29 at Washington State University. Info: Outdoor Recreation Center, (509) 335-1892.
Spokane film lineup to be announced
Since licensing is still underway for films pegged for the World Tour version of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, the features to be shown this week in Spokane won’t be selected until Friday afternoon.
Outdoors editor Rich Landers will be at Friday afternoon’s the selection meeting to post the film lineup for the three-day event online at www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors
FILMS– Radical Reels, the high-action, adrenaline-packed off-shoot flicks from the Banff Mountain Film Festival are coming to North Idaho this week, including a debut appearance in Coeur d’Alene.
The shows are scheduled:
Wednesday (Oct. 17) at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene. Doors open 5 p.m.; films start at 6.
Thursday (Oct. 18) at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint. Doors open 6 p.m.; films start at 7.
The 11 films on this year’s tour include skateboarding on bobsled courses, kayakers on an adventure from Mexico to Iceland, speed climbing on outrageous rock routes, BASE skiing and a humorous candid look at people using headcams.
Tickets are $13 in advances at shops in the Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene areas. Leftovers will be sold for $15 at the door.
- Info on where to get advance tickets, etc: mountain-fever.com.
PADDLING — The drawdown of Priest Lake to its winter level will begin Oct. 8.
The drawdown generally is complete by early November and brings the lake down three feet from a summer elevation of 3,427.64 feet to the winter level of 3,424.64, said Karl Duncan, the dam operator.
The lake’s drawdown also launches the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.