There are two posts here, one above the other. This is meant to keep together all the posts regarding this river and its launch sites for easier reference later. The download may have taken longer and you may have seen the older post before but this system made more sense to me than a scattered chronological order.
January 11, 2019, I launched the 9.25′ Emotion kayak halfway up the river at the bridge by Rainbows End Lane and paddled upstream to Cullaby Lake and back.
December 27, 2018, We launched the Emotion kayak along with a neighbor and his small kayak from Warrenton’s 2nd St. kayak dock. We paddled upstream to the Highway 101 bridge, beyond and back.
11 January 2019: Finding the Source of the Skipanon River
The Skipanon is almost too long a river to complete in a day but it can be done in two. I still haven’t paddled around the mouth to look at Warrenton’s large marina, the even larger lumber mill, and the mouth of the Columbia River that according to another local paddler ‘will make you feel small’. There is a small dirt road on the east side of the Skipanon that leads to the edge of the Columbia for anyone who wants to check it out by land.
A few weeks ago, December 27, two of us paddled and climbed upriver as far as the water reservoir road, which, I found out later, was less than 2 miles from the river’s source. When we got back to the dock, another boat owner told me how he had once paddled and dragged his canoe all the way to Cullaby Lake. As most canoes are 14 to 16 feet long and around 70 pounds, the challenge had been made.
Always looking for places to launch, I saw that the bridge at Rainbows End Lane had a pretty level launch site. The Perkins Lane bridge further upstream looked too steep to launch and, as I found out later, has no legitimate parking.
My NOAA partner last trip is familiar with someone helping the shoreline restoration.
Ahead of me was a rustle and a rumble as a herd of elk spotted me before I spotted them. Here is the last little one before they were gone.
This reminded me that on the drive down, I heard a short announcement on the van’s radio from the Coast Guard asking people to please tie up their watercraft, particularly during high tide and strong wind events. When an empty boat is found drifting, they quickly need to identify the owner and whether there is an emergency. Crews are often put in needless risk and expense in a search for the boat’s owner.
I’ve heard that I’m descended from Henry Stanley who in 1871 found Dr. Livingston (as presumed). In 1877 Stanley confirmed John Speke’s 1858 assertion that Lake Victoria was the source of the White Nile, which later joins the Blue Nile at Khartoum.
I chose the route to the left, in search of a great lake, the source the Skipanon River.
One of the house owners shared with me that they had just paddled their kayaks and a canoe down the river recently but were stopped by the fallen trees west of the 101 bridge. They had a fun trip because the river had plenty of water. That might imply a more difficult trip during a drought. Today I noticed the 8.6′ rising tide had affected the river up to near the Fort to Sea Trail Bridge. From there upstream the current began that got up to 1.9 mph making for slow progress but a quick trip home.
I turned around to revisit the river from another angle. I averaged 4 mph compared to the 1.9 mph going upstream.
6.64 miles traveled in 2 hours 48 minutes with a maximum speed of 4.9 mph (downstream with the current) averaging 2.0 mph.)
27 December 2018: Upstream Over & Under the Skipanon River
The Skipanon River originates in Cullaby Lake, Oregon, and flows under the coastal highway 101 a half a mile south of the big box stores. It then flows through Warrenton, past a marina, a large lumber yard, and then into the Columbia River, not too far from the jetty at the mouth. There are few houses along its length making it a convenient paddle close to but mostly out of sight of civilization. I had recently read about a second free kayak dock just upstream of the Warrenton Marina launch. It was overlooked in my book. The dock is located at the east end of SE 2nd street in Warrenton. I felt it was a pretty big omission from the book as I had recommended that people pay to launch from the marina instead. Still, $5 might buy better security if you prefer parking lots.
Today I was with Chris, who besides once giving me one of his old boats to restore, is also a member of the local South Pacific County Technical Rescue Team that helps respond to local swimmer emergencies. It was highly likely he could pull me out of trouble if necessary. Today the wind would be light, the temperature in the low 50’s and the tide would be rising from 3.2 to 8.8 feet during our trip. A rising tide is preferred for paddling up rivers.
I took the short ‘MaryBeth’ kayak that is both relatively lightweight at 39 pounds and at just over 9 feet is much better than the longer sea kayaks for maneuvering and banging around smaller rivers.
The easy trip is to head downstream, tool around the marina, look at the Columbia River and back. That would be about a two and a half mile trip. Today we were going upstream to Highway 101 if possible. I expected two culverted bridge portages and counted about four blocking trees on google earth between the bridges and the highway. It would certainly be easier for us than for explorers of yore.
It looked well graded and follows the top of the dike.
Later on the return trip at an +8.2′ tide, I had to lay down to clear it.
Warrenton High School is not far to starboard, but the bank was so woodsy you would never know.
About a third of a mile upstream I found out my boat was just a bit taller than Chris’s.
Upstream, I set up like a snow sled and slid down the bank with my feet out. The stabilizing feet outside was a good thing as the bow went underwater and the stern leaned left and right as it followed down the bank.
Here is a picture from the return trip (a +7.5′ tide) as we were able to go up and over the same tree.
Chris had the thought that except for a portage the first bridge at 7th, the rest of these obstacles might be paddled over on a high tide. With no current, we could do these more safely at our leisure without being pushed around and possibly getting pinned.
Chris could have been much further along if I hadn’t had to do three portages, but I never felt pressured. Like bicycling, hiking and running, group members have different speeds.
Next came the SE Dolphin Ave. bridge near where it meets Rainbows End Lane. There looks to be enough room to park a car here and launch. The bank doesn’t look too steep either. Best thing is that it’s upstream of the downed trees.
We’ve had a lot of rain lately and the tide has recently been over +11′ leaving the grass swept down along the shore. Today the Skipanon started flowing against us at this point even though the tide was +5.1′ and still rising.
The water had recently been high enough to leave debris on low branches, like head level. I recognized this plant from my family’s aquariums as a kid. It’s the invasive Brazilian elodea.
We were now two and a half hours in, out of the woods, and heading across a pasture with not much variety ahead.
The owner of the inflatable boat at the kayak dock later told me that he once took his canoe all the way to Cullaby Lake. He had had to drag it through the last part. It does look possible from Google Maps if one can get through the houses close to the lake.
Chris spotted this odd little church near the Fort Stevens Highway Spur. The speaker apparently stands on the block to the left of the cross and the parishioners’ use benches closer to the shore, but still underwater. Behind me was a view of the river and the woods.
The three tunnels under SE 7th St. were a hazard to avoid now.
The inflatable boat guy had also had an enjoyable day motoring around the marina. He had just finished deflating his boat and was making plans for more trips in the coming year. I helped him stuff his boat into his truck.
8.67 miles traveled in 4 hours 27 minutes with a maximum speed of 4.3 mph (downstream with the current) averaging a pokey speed of 1.9 mph.)