An Afternoon at Beacon Rock


looking back at Beacon Rock from Ives Island

We’ve been neglecting our kayaks.

Still new to kayaking, we’re slowly gathering our list of trips, finding places we like to go. It’s a lovely afternoon; our summer prevailing into fall, only with that gorgeous, slanted golden light that only fall has… 

We purchase the myriad of confusing, required use fees: the controversial Discover Pass for Washington State Parks and DNR lands (guess I’ll be getting my hike on at Hamilton & Silver Star this winter) plus the required day launch permit fee for boating. Finally, all the monetary boringness out of the way, we put into placid, gorgeous waters near Beacon Rock

placid waters

Andy stands on the shore before settling in, arms crossed, his body relaxed and taking in the view. I love it when he looks like this. 

being a goof

Sheltered by Pierce and Ives Islands from the main body of the Columbia, we explore the tranquil inlet, currently shallow enough to avoid power boats. We stalk myriad of water fowl, herons, and bald eagles, the sun on our shoulders. We float through river plants, paddles occasionally tangling in the greenery. The bones of salmon litter the shallows, picked clean. Elk prints pattern the shores of both islands. 

Checking out the Oregon side of the Gorge

Once in the main body of the Columbia, our bodies engage the river, battling current and wind, the strength of which never ceases to amaze me. The gorge is a powerful place, not to be underestimated, and this river makes you work for it. Most people new to kayaking assume it’s all in your shoulders. Truthfully, it’s more a core activity, with shoulders coming in to play for finesse and technique. Our hips and legs are engaged with the boat, anticipating the movement of the river, how it’s trying to turn us. Torsos are fully engaged for power as we fight against both current and wind. In the end, the entire body feels jello-ish from stabilizing for so long.

We beach the boats, rip out the snacks, and bask in the sunlight on a beach. I lay back, knees propped skyward and it’s lights out, I’m that content. Andy stalks non-existent deer and meanders further up the beach, scouting future trips. 

I found Nelly

Andy's ride

We’re still very, very new to kayaking and make no mistake, the Columbia is not a river to underestimate. Come fall and winter and spring, it is a powerful place with current, wind and temperature in full play: conditions not to be taken lightly. It’s more reminiscent of kayaking in the open ocean than a river. We hope to be participating in future skills classes in the Columbia and the ocean in order to learn how to navigate both more safely. 

heading back home- Beacon Rock & Hamilton Mountain in the background
This day though? This day was perfect. Warm and calm enough to test the waters. And throw in a nap or two.

No comments: