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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Kennewick-Man Expedition, DAY 42


Today’s forecast was that a strong headwind would change into a tailwind. So, I woke up at 3:30 a.m., I carried the kayak from Arlene’s house to Rock Creek Park with helps from Arlene and Phillip, and then I paddled the kayak out into the Columbia River at 8:10 a.m. Eventually I waited for the strong headwind to die down for four days, for one night at Rock Creek Park and for three nights at Arlene’s house.



With moderate tailwind, the kayak sailed comfortably at about 6 Mile/Hour. It was neither hot nor cold, and was clear and sunny.

I kayaked deep into the Columbia River Gorge which cuts through the Cascade Mountain Range. Until there, magnificent scenery of the dry, dull-red and lofty cliff stretched out forever. However, from there, it was changing into soft scenery of gently sloping surface of verdurous mountains, as I was traveling on the river.



At around 9:30 a.m., I passed through the City of Hood River. Until that time, Mount Hood, which was blanketed by white snow, always rose into the sky in the far distance ahead as if it was a lighthouse guiding my kayak. However, at that time, it stood on my left. I was full of emotion as I realized that I was able to kayak for far distance what seemed like an eternity.



The moderate tailwind was changing to strong tailwind gradually. I lowered one third of a sail for shortening it, because the speed of the kayak, which the strong wind pushed and accelerated, around 8 Mile/Hour was a little faster than a speed of safe steering. Nevertheless, the kayak started to accelerate more, bulled its way through the water, and recorded the maximum speed 11 Mile/Hour. Keels, which prevent the kayak from being blown sideways by the wind, succumbed to water pressure and deviated from its position. Therefore I had to push back the keels by hand. And waves with whitecaps generated by wind overtook the kayak at faster speed than a speed of the kayak from behind. So, suddenly a big wave swallowed my kayak, because I was not able to see the waves attacking from behind. I was fearful of it.

I felt danger, as the wind became more powerful. I lowered the sail more, but still the kayak ran at around 8 Mile/Hour. I was not able to find some landing point for escaping.

Around Home Valley, the wind became fearful wind. Although I lowered almost all of the sail, the kayak still ran fast by being pushed by wind. I became very aware that even though it is tailwind the Columbia River Gorge is a rough spot where such strong wind blew. As I was not able to find some evacuation spot, I was moving ahead in keeping my tension.



At 1:10 p.m., I reached Port Docks in City of Stevenson in front of Bonneville Dam. I felt so relieved. Around ten kite surfer enjoyed the strong wind about 25 Mile/Hour, flying colorful kites high up in the air.

I traveled 25 miles from Rock Creek Park to Stevenson for just 5 hours.

I so appreciate that Steve Boucher supported me to detour from Bonneville Dam. Kindly he called me to offer of support few days ago and then we met at there, Stevenson, for the first time.



At 5:30 p.m., as Steve saw me off, I paddled the kayak out into the river at a boat ramp just downstream of Bonneville Dam. As water flew rapidly, I was able to notice that scenery was going by.



It was close to sunset. However, I remained on the water tenaciously without landing on shore, because I wanted to go through anyway the Columbia River Gorge which is the roughest spot while there was a rare chance that the strong headwind did not blow.



At 8:00 p.m., I found a place like a small park. I pulled up the kayak there, because finally I was able to reach to an edge of the Columbia River Gorge, City of Washougal. However that place was private property and I found No Trespassing sign. So, I visited a house at the edge of an adjoining pasture. Bob Smith gave me a permission to pitch the tent, and furthermore he invited me to dinner; I very appreciate it. I ate a hot meal and cold beer with his family, including grandchildren, of about ten just visiting him in the weekend with a lively and delightful atmosphere. Eventually, by the kindness of Bob, I got shower and slept in a sofa.

I traveled 16 miles from Bonneville Dam to Washougal for 2 and half hours with the rapid water flow.