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Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Columbia River: Bonneville to Washougal

Due to an unusual east wind pattern, we did this downwind paddle from Bonneville to Washougal instead of Home Valley to Bingen as was originally scheduled.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Beautiful weather with the wind and current at our backs. There was a large number of fishing boats on the river in the first couple of miles along with fairly strong current flow. Good wind wave surfing materialized about 3-4 miles into the paddle and lasted until the last 3-4 miles.

    There were lots of very shallow areas, making navigation a bit tricky at times.

All made it to the meeting location on time and we consolidated gear into Bill and Dave's cars. Made it to the Hamilton Island Boat ramp and got launched by 10:30. Strong current up near the dam (3-4kt) and lots of fishing boats to dodge. The wind waves weren't great at the beginning, and although we wanted to divert initially to the channel directly below Beacon Rock, the river was too low to get into the channel without a long portage.
After Beacon Rock the waves picked up and good surfing was had for most of the rest of the trip. Dave used his sail for much of the trip. The waves were smaller than a west wind would have produced due to the wind and current being in the same direction, but were quite surfable and some long runs were had.
We stopped on the Oregon side across from Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge (the Washington side was too muddy). Another good surfing session brought us to Phoca Rock and Cape Horn where we stopped for lunch.
After lunch we surfed through the Rooster Rock area and huge numbers of kite surfers who had migrated from Hood River for the east wind day. We stopped again at the west end of Reed Island on a nice sand beach. This was the end of the good surfing waves. We still had the current and wind at our backs for the last leg into Washougal. Arrived at the take out at about 4:30pm.
We packed up our gear and headed back to Bonneville to get the other two cars. Some of us stopped at the Tap Room in Bonneville for a pleasant bite and beer.