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Old 12-06-2014   #1
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 338
Columbia River Gorge

I'm thinking about plan B when the I get skunked on my permits. Has anybody around here floated or motored the Columbia River Gorge? I was looking into Hood River to the Pacific Ocean. If I can't get my permits, I was thinking about dodging freight liners and staying at bed and breakfast/hotels along the way.
I have been searching google university and only find scattered info. Anybody got any beta? Maybe the freight haulers can give a big enough wake to give me a rapid or two.


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Old 12-06-2014   #2
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 384
Have you ever been up that way? Of all the river opportunities in that region Hood River to Astoria would be close to the bottom of the list. In addition to the tankers you mentioned, don't forget about the WIND. There's a reason that windsurfers and now kiteboarders have posted up there. I have a friend who did source to sea on the Salmon & that stretch was the only really hateful part. It can be done, but should it be done is the real question. Maybe someone from OR has a different take on it?

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Old 12-06-2014   #3
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The High Ground, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,325
I'm from Oregon and I think it would suck. Huge lake like expanses behind ever dam and then you'd have to negotiate the locks. The wind + the nearly non existent current would be pretty crappy. I think I'd try and get a Rouge permit if I were going to Oregon.
"Let us cross the river to the other side and rest beneath the shade of the trees." ~ Last words of Thomas Jonathan ''Stonewall' Jackson
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Old 12-06-2014   #4
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Tigard, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 768
If you are serious about this, here is a link to the Lower Columbia River Water Trail, Explore the Water Trail | The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership and the Hanford Reach which is a day trip, Boating The Hanford Reach - Hanford Reach - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Otherwise my "get skunked" list is the Lower Salmon, preseason Rogue (before May15), post season Hell's Canyon (after Sept 15), Grande Ronde and Spring John Day 70 to 120+ miles.
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Old 12-06-2014   #5
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BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
I think it could be fun in a motorized hard bottom boat. I imagine there are better trips to take with such a boat though.

For consolation rafting trips I would look at: Westwater, Cataract, MF Flathead, post permit Hell's Canyon or any number of flatwater rivers without camping restrictions.
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Old 12-06-2014   #6
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 29
I've paddled a good portion of that stretch of the river in a canoe. Lots of history but not much fun. Lots of strong wind, big ships and slow water.

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Old 12-07-2014   #7
Powell butte, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 8
Mountaineers Books: Paddling the Columbia

I just found this title at the local library, pretty informative and realistic description of the Columbia and why people may or may not want to paddle any or all of the river.
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Old 12-07-2014   #8
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peoria, Arizona
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 125
"Anything Worth Doing" by Jo Deurbrouck

is an interesting book in which the story-line and characters closely parallels "The Emerald Mile" by Kevin Fedarko. The primary thread concerns legendary river guide Clancy Reece's death during their high water speed run on the Salmon. Another good portion of the book document's his and Jon Barker's unique trip from the headwaters down through the gorge and over the bar. Although likely a bit dated now, it's what you are talking about. They did it in a dory.

Kenton Grua and group survive their swim at Crystal, Clancy Reece did not in his attempt on the Salmon.
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Old 12-07-2014   #9
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 338
Great beta. I appreciate all the info. I would be running a 25 horse outboard, however I still think that the wind would take away from the experience. I will check out the trail system.

thanks again,

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Old 12-07-2014   #10
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 130
In the newly-released film "Damnation" (streamable on Netflix now), which I recommend, there is a scene of a couple guys trying to get through one of the dams on the Columbia, and being harassed and denied passage by cops.

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