Category Archives: Washington

Wenatchee River – Leavenworth, Washington

 

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The Wenatchee River is located in Washington state, between Leavenworth and Cashmere. Our friends from BC have been coming here for years so we thought it would be a great stop on our journey northwards. Lucky for us Chester decided to join us so we had a knowledgeable person to lead us down the river and around the area!

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The Wenatchee River is known for some of the best play boating in Washington State. Prime flows are between 8,000 – 12,000. We made the decision to come when the flows were sitting around 8,000 so were quite surprised to arrive on the 21st and have them well above 14,000!

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We paddled twice a day for 3 days and didn’t have the same flow for any run, which definitely made it more interesting. Unfortunately at flows this high most of the play features were washed out. The upside was that the wave trains were SUPER HUGE – around 10-12 feet, which certainly made cresting the wave exciting!

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Rodeo wave was one of two play features that was still in. It was pretty thrashy the first two days but once the levels dropped below 13,000 on day three it became fun and Tim had 3 play sessions in one day.

He described it as fast and bouncy and it was tough to get the smile off his face!

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The rest of our play time was spent at a wave called Turkey Shoot. Unfortunately it was a favourite of many and at times the eddy had up to 15+ people in it. We got lucky for a few of our sessions and were the only ones there for a period of time, which was fabulous!

The water was surging a fair bit as the water level was constantly changing. This meant you had some amazing rides and some not so amazing rides when the wave would just green out and disappear. Lots of fun to surf and spin, not really strong enough for much else.

DSCN3529The best part about the Turkey Shoot wave was that it was big enough to surf and spin in our big boats as well as play boats! I was pretty excited to back surf in my Zen…

The town of Leavenworth is in the Washington State side of the Okanagan Valley and is surrounded by orchards and vineyards. The area has a history in the gold rush and as a timber town until the 1960’s when they redesigned themselves to take advantage of their location and they developed the region around the concept of a Bavarian town. It is now a top tourist destination in the Pacific North West with numerous festivals to attract people year round. We were pretty impressed with the kayaking, biking and climbing opportunities but that seems to come well behind the Bavarian charm and christmas tree ornament shops for most of the visitors.

tumwater scopingWe took the time to check out Peshastin Creek and the Tumwater Canyon while we were here. Peshastin looks like a fun little run when the water is high enough – no room for eddies so just get in, stay centre and stay upright! Tumwater Canyon was a definite NO for all of us – road scouting showed some doable lines and some really munchy holes that did not look fun. We’ll stick to watching others run it via youtube…

It was definitely a fun visit and a place we would come back to. We stayed at the KOA in Leavenworth which had good amenities and was an easy place to put in for a long river cruise day.

Hobuck Hoedown – Take Two…

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One of our favourite experiences two years ago was our unplanned trip to Neah Bay to attend the Hobuck Hoedown. It was a last minute plan and we were blown away by the location, the waves and the incredibly welcoming festival group. The event went into hiatus last year and came back again this year as a non-profit event run by a passionate group of local volunteers. We knew we couldn’t miss a chance to attend a second time and luckily it fit perfectly with our fairly vague schedule!

 

We got to Hobuck a few days ahead of the competition and had a great time surfing and generally playing around on the beach and in the water…

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On our last trip Hunter and Tim were zen surf masters in their kayaks – Tofino, Hobuck and California. I just didn’t find it that fun, mostly because I wasn’t crazy about the cartwheel crashes in my kayak, and opted to stick with my surf board most of the time. Two years later and I’m a stronger kayaker with a smaller boat – WOW… I get it!!! It was sooo much fun that I didn’t want to get out of the water and you couldn’t get the smile off my face. I would only quit each day because I was exhausted.

We have spent the summer talking with Hunter about competition and how it’s about going out and trying your best and just having fun, especially at his age. He has poked at both Tim and I to ask why we aren’t choosing to compete so I decided to enter the competition with Hunter as a fun togetherness thing. We both entered into the “skookum” class which was a mixed boat class for those that were not looking to collect points as part of the race circuit.

All week the waves had been around 2-3 feet and I was having a lot of fun. Saturday morning we arrived at the beach to see 3-5 ft waves in very tight sets. Getting out was the hardest part and probably consumed 80% of the 19 minutes that you get in the heat! My first paddle out I got pummelled twice with waves landing directly on top of me and just cartwheeling my boat backwards and upside down. If it wasn’t for all this “role modelling” stuff I probably would have bailed after the first 5 minutes as 2 other competitors did. I ended up third in my heat but had a fairly low score due to my lack of ability to get out to catch the green breaking waves vs the foam pile.

I got off the water feeling somewhat concerned for Hunter. The waves had dropped a little bit as the tide was coming in but were still quite a force to be reckoned with.  He got tossed around a fair bit but luckily did not end up getting pummelled as much as I did. Hunter had a couple of strong surfs in the last 2 minutes and came in 2nd in his heat. Top 4 went into the finals on Sunday and Hunter made it into spot #4!!!

Sunday was almost the exact opposite of a day. We had an offshore vs onshore breeze and the waves were few and far between, with most being in the 1-2 ft range. The difficulty in the finals was actually finding waves to catch! Hunter was against 3 adult men who were all paddling sea kayaks, which made it much easier for them to get some propulsion going to catch a green developing wave. We came up with a bit of a strategy by watching an earlier heat and decided that his play boat advantage was being able to catch the waves closer into shore just as they are about to break and this worked out well. He ended up 2nd overall which was pretty fabulous and well earned!

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Overall it was a fabulous week at Hobuck. The campground is wonderful with both a general camping area (with washrooms, showers, drinking water & showers) for $20 and an RV area (with full services) for $30, both of which are a bargain. You are right on the beach and have amazing sunsets every night. We were lucky to listen to a Makah Elder storyteller on Saturday night and it was neat to see and hear how similar their culture is to the Coastal Tlingit that we know from home.

Although Neah Bay is fairly out of the way, we definitely recommend it as a stop for any paddlers or surfers that want a low key getaway with great amenities.

Washington State – not quite spring yet…

tim port angelesJust before crossing the border into Washington we stopped at Fort Clatsup – a national site that celebrates the journey’s of Lewis & Clarke. We read all about Lewis & Clark in October in preparation for our drive through Oregon so it was neat to be able to catch this park on the way home. Hunter remembered most of what he had read in the fall and worked through his junior ranger badge quite quickly.

We headed straight up highway 101 from Oregon to Neah Bay, the farthest NW point in Washington State. We had a great time here in early October and had our fingers crossed that we would be able to replicate it… We pulled into the Hobuck Bay campground after a day of driving with intermittent rain. Unfortunately, that trend continued and we had 3 days of winds and off/on rain.

All of the indoor time was put to good use – Hunter decided he wanted to learn to cook and has started making dinners and breakfasts. No fingers lost or major burns yet!

olympic national parkFrom Neah Bay we headed into Port Angeles to visit with Morgan and Steve (the dog). Morgan runs Olympic Raft & Kayak and we met him when we were here in the fall. If you are in the area, you should definitely stop in and experience his tours – fabulous knowledge of water and this area! Steve will play catch forever and this works well for Hunter.

hunter & steveWe grabbed lunch with Morgan, played lots with Steve and then got ourselves parked in line for the 8:10 am ferry the next morning. We got in line at 3pm and were 3rd. The line grew all night long… The nuance is important – we were not camped on the side of the road in downtown Port Angeles, we were parked in line for the ferry!

We spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and exploring the trails of Port Angeles.

Port Angeles is still very much a logging town so it was also neat to see all the forestry operations.

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The Elwha River, Port Angeles Washington

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Morgan and Maggie (& Steve the dog) from Olympic Raft and Kayak invited us to camp in their backyard on Sunday after the Hobuck Hoedown. Their shop is right outside Port Angeles on the banks of the Elwha River, which has an amazing story…

Sunday night the rain held off and we had a wonderful campfire (built by Hunter and Morgan) and breakfast for dinner, thanks to Maggie.

In the middle of the night the rains came again (what a surprise). Tim and Morgan headed out kayaking for the morning while Hunter and I used the time to catch up on some school work.

The rains broke in the early afternoon so we headed out down the road to walk to a former lake bed that used to be a flowing part of the Elwha River. The Elwha River is 72km long and runs from the upper watershed in Olympic National Park all the way to the Pacific Ocean and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. At one time it was the most prolific salmon river in all of the Olympic Peninsula. 2 dams were built on the river in 1912 and 1927 to generate power for the local pulp mills, which significantly impeded the Salmon runs.

After years of long standing debate and battles, the Federal Government purchased the dams in 2000 and proceeded to create a plan for their removal and the re-institution of the Salmon Run. The Elwha Ecosystem Restoration Plan was created and the dam removal was started in 2011.

With the dam removal came 80 years of built up sediment starting to flow down the river along with significant wood and debris from bank erosion due to higher water levels. This has caused changes in the flow and location of the river and is an amazing geography lesson in action.

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The river /lake bed we walked through used to be full of water and may be again some day when the river settles back into it’s natural path. In the mean time, you can see things that have been under water for over 100 years which is really cool! All of the stumps we are standing on used to be well under water.

 

Hobuck Hoedown – Surf Kayak Event

 

The Hobuck Hoedown is an annual surf kayak event held in Hobuck Bay in the furthest corner of Northwestern Washington state. It is organized by Olympic Raft and Kayak and Morgan and Maggie are the passion behind it.

It is an old school event that is all about community, competition and fun. It was a wonderful place for our first Surf Kayak competition experience with a low key atmosphere and incredibly supportive people (organizers, judges, and participants).

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There were multiple classes within the event – High Performance, International Class, Waveski, Whitewater, Stand-up Paddleboard and Raft. We initially entered Hunter into Whitewater, Stand-up paddleboard and Raft. After testing out the Stand-up paddle board he opted out of that event as it was a bit too wieldy for his size.

Hunter and Tim surfed throughout the morning while waiting for his heat just after lunch. Tim managed to demo about 6 boats over the course of the weekend but never found “the one” that would justify buying yet another boat because it was that much better than using his Jackson whitewater boats.

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Hunter had a bout of nerves just before his heat, announcing that he didn’t want to do this “as it was really competitive – they give out medals just like the Olympics!”. We managed to get through the tears and into his boat just as the flag turned to green as he was off in the water. I was on camera duty and Tim was dedicated safety support and we were both full of nerves…. We couldn’t believe when we both looked at our watches and only 6 minutes of the 20 minute heat had gone by!

He was on fire – full of smiles, surfing away, even throwing in old school paddle spins mid way through to impress the judges!

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Hunter mostly surfed in what is referred to as the “soupy zone” where the waves were just cresting or had just crested. It meant that most of the waves he caught were white vs green. As we progressed through the day, we learned more about how Surf kayking is scored and it turns out that the starting point is you have to catch the wave on the green. Then it is about how effectively you make use of the wave (front surf, side surf, spin, carve etc.).

Hunter wowed the judges and got a round full of cheers when he came off the water from the first heat. At 10, he was the youngest competitor and they didn’t have a youth class so he was out in the water with 4 adults.

With only 5 in their class, everyone made it into the finals. Hunter was disappointed that he wasn’t top 3 in points (he was 5th at 20.5 but only 8 points behind the 1st place competitor) but thrilled that he was in the finals.

Before the finals, they had the raft surfing competition – Tim was a last minute recruit to paddle in the boat with Hunter, Morgan and 3 others. They had a tonne of fun and lots of smiles…. Morgan capped it off with a back-flip off the raft to earn more points and they won the event!

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At the end of the day, Hunter came in 5th in the Whitewater category BUT the judges were so impressed with him (age, personality and skills) that they created a junior class and awarded him a medal for first. We are all sooooo proud of him – for competing, for getting through the jitters and for being his personable chatty self the entire day. Pretty awesome for learning day one and competing day two.

Hunter and Mom - medal

 

Thanks have to go out to coach Tim (Dad), coach Sean (YCKC) and coach Kevin (YCKC) for helping to give him the confidence, the skill and the love of paddling…

Oh, and for those that are wondering – yes, I did go out and surf kayak. In order to maintain my “keep up with Hunter” status, I hit the waves on Saturday for a while in between everything and had a good time…

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Hobuck Beach (Neah Bay), Washington

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While sitting in our camper through the torrential rain storms in Tofino, Tim started searching the internet for information on actual Surf Kayaks. He had heard bits and pieces about them over the years and was curious if they would make much of a difference for ocean surfing.

Surf Kayaking is not really a prominent sport in North America and the 2 boat manufacturers are both based out of the UK. After much going round and round, we found a dealer for each in the US and emailed them about being able to demo their boats.

Much to our surprise, there was a Surf Kayak event in North Western Washington on October 5th and 6th and there would be lots of demo boats available. We quickly checked our schedule and determined that we could definitely make it there!

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Hobuck Beach is as far North West as you can get on the continental USA (outside of Alaska). It is on Makah Indian Land and is stunning. The location, the views, the scenery and the campground facilities are all well worth the trip. It is perfectly geared to surfers of all types and families with tent & RV camping along with great rental cabins. Showers (both outdoor gear and warm inside ones) are free and everything else is included for under $35.00 (for an RV site).

We got there on a warm Friday afternoon and the boys immediately got dressed and launched themselves into the surf. The waves were just the right size for us to finally allow Hunter to try ocean kayak surfing and he was thrilled!

After some brief tips and tricks, Hunter got the hang of things and was off surfing. I think there was a permanent smile on his face and it took some coaxing to get him out of the water.

When he finally settled in to some lunch he announced that he wanted to participate in the competition the next day. We were both quite surprised as he’s not usually a competitive guy and opts out of most competitive situations. We happily wandered down the beach Friday night to meet up with everyone else associated with the event, to learn some more and to sign him up. The part that gave everyone pause for thought was the idea that we would have to get up at 7am to make it to the event meeting at 8am! (see next post for more details on the Hobuck Hoedown).

Galbraith Mountain – Mtn Biking in Bellingham

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After a busy morning with alot of sitting (public transit from Downtown Vancouver to Surrey, car ride from Surrey to Campground from very generous Campground hosts at Pacific Crossing RV Park, quick truck ride to MEC to pick up bikes from the shop and then waiting in line for an hour to cross the border), we finally made the official cross into the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (drum roll please…).

It’s not great timing at the moment as the National Parks are all closed and everyone is wondering how long this can last, but that’s for another day and a different soapbox…

The good news is that the wonderful Whitehorse Mountain Biking community had told us all about some great biking in Bellingham, which is less than an hour from the US /Canadian border.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, our fabulous GPS and the maps we brought with us, we found the trailhead with no mess nor fuss.

I’m really starting to wonder if mountain bikers ever work… After the number of people we saw mid-day in Cumberland, I wasn’t at all surprised to see 8-10 vehicles in the parking lot. As usual people were very friendly and answered all my trail questions when I boldly wandered up, map in hand. By the time we were finished 3 hours later, the parking lot was overflowing and there were probably 30 cars (approx 5 pm).

This was more west coast rain forest riding, worsened from the rains the previous few days, which meant slick roots and lots of puddles.

Galbraith Mountain is a mix of privately owned land and logging. It is moderately well signed, the trail map is GREAT and the ride up the mountain is one of the best yet – gradual incline, smooth gravel surface with no ruts. The up/down ratio is about 50/50 when we looked at the mileage.

Our first ride down was on the 3 pigs trails and these were perfect for Hunter – moderate steepness, moderate technical and great flow. It’s a series of 3 trails that connect in with each other and are lots of fun. 2.5 km up and 2.5km down.

Our second ride was up a little further (3km) and then down on Crazy Eights and Evil Twin. We (I) chose it because it showed as having wood features on the map, which the boys love. Wet wood features are alot less fun than dry wood features and I had some stellar crashes!!! Not sure why it’s always me…??

In our attempt to fit in one more trail we managed to get slightly off course and dropped out of the trail system about 2km away from the parking lot via the road. The plus side of that is we found this awesome mailbox!
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We also had a fun afternoon with the local wildlife – Hunter was actively looking both UP and DOWN and spotted the owl and the super large slug… It was a great break for the afternoon.