Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oregon to Washington - by Ben Stanistreet

After leaving our yurts in Florence, we spent a few days in Eugene. We would like to thank the River House, Eugene’s recreation center, for accommodating us. While in Eugene we surfed a small wave right in town called “Cotton Candy,” and also paddled the Miracle Mile on the NF MF of the Willamette River. The Miracle Mile is a fun class III-IV run with continuous boulder-garden style rapids. We held class daily in the Eugene public library. Libraries have been a very useful resource during our west coast tour.

The "Unbroken Chain" on Miracle Mile - photo by Ben Stanistreet

We left Eugene on the 18th and drove to our next destination, the Columbia River Gorge and the rivers of southern Washington. We would like to give a big thanks to All Adventures Rafting for letting us camp in their back yard, which is conveniently located at the take out for the Green Truss section of the White Salmon. Our first day here, we woke up early and drove to Tao Berman’s house for morning workout. Tao is a local of these parts and a famous kayaker. He has a nice home gym and was “nice” enough to let us use it. The next day our arms felt like they were going to fall off from the hundreds of pull-ups we did at Tao’s, but it was a cool opportunity to work out “like the pros.” Tao also paddled with us on the Green Truss section later that day. Scott Doherty met us here for a few days of paddling and hanging out with the school as well.

Ben Hurd fires off Big Brother on the Green Truss - photo by Jason Cohen

We spend most paddling workouts either on the Farmlands or the Green Truss on the White Salmon, but the Little White Salmon and Upper Wind have also been fun, after-school river runs. We took advantage of a weekend day to hike-in and run Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek. At about 30 feet, it is the biggest drop most students have ever hucked.

Jesse Shimrock boofin' Punch Bowl Falls - photo by Jason Cohen

It’s amazing how fast the time goes by when we stay in one place for more than a week. On class days we drive across the Columbia River into the town of Hood River, Oregon, and take advantage of the public library. Dog River Coffee Co., right down the hill from the library, has been a favorite spot to have class and relax. I am sitting here in the coffee shop as I write this, enjoying the laid back atmosphere and the smell of fresh ground coffee. The coffee here is very good, and so is the food. “The chicken pesto pizza is da bomb,” says Eric Parker.

Sun set in the Columbia Gorge - photo by Ben Stanistreet
We just began our last week of classes. In Ivan’s literature classes we are reading different books and presenting in class. Ivan allotted each of us a half hour of class to teach what we have read and whatever else we want to include. This allowed for several interesting and fun learning experiences like watching movies and having class discussions. During one class, we all left the library to walk around town by ourselves and see if we could have conversations with strangers on the street. We then regrouped in the library to discuss our experiences.

I think most of us would agree that the Gorge has been one of the coolest places we’ve stayed, and the area offers some of the best paddling we’ve seen during our west coast tour. With the end of school approaching fast, everyone is ready to be done with classes but also sad that the year at WCKA is almost over.

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