Category Archives: Washington


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We are not a competitive family in terms of competing with those outside our family. Competition inside the family is a different story and a great motivator to learn new skills in all areas of our lives.

We first got involved with kayaking competitions when Hunter was 9. He was intrigued with entering our local kayak rodeo along with his friends but not really certain about the competition part of things. To make it more fun we decided that I (Mom) would enter and we would just compete against each other and not worry about anyone else. That was the first of many times that he has beaten me in freestyle, downriver and ocean surfing competitions.

Our first downriver race was the Race to the Grill at CKC Paddlefest in Buena Vista, Colorado. It is a super family friendly event on a class 2 run that ends at a beach bar. We lined up one after the other with a 30 second gap between paddlers, with Hunter first and me following. He was motivated not to have me catch him and I was motivated to catch him. The chase was on. This is a 20+ minute race where you paddle the entire time and this set up kept us both paddling hard the entire time. We both had podium results but the more important part was the fun that we had out on the river together. We’ve used this strategy in a number of other races and the results were the same – we challenged ourselves, we challenged each other, and we created amazing memories.

Our other biggest learning about kayak competitions is to think of them more as participation than competition. We are coming out to have fun on the river with friends and family. We set goals – either to do a certain trick, beat a certain time or beat each other – and then see if we can achieve them. We have met sooo many great people by showing up at various kayaking “competitions” and choosing to participate. It exposes you to the amazing paddlesports environment and provides you with an opportunity to experience some beautiful parts of what ever country you are in.

We definitely recommend that families get involved in their local paddling festivals and competitions as a way to have fun, grow and learn together. 

The Vincent Family

Wenatchee River – Leavenworth, Washington



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!

wenatchee river

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!

tim rodeo big view

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!

turkey shoot eddy

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…


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…


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!


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.


The Elwha River, Port Angeles Washington

hunter and steve the dog

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.

lee, tim hunter on stump

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.