At Roger’s Landing, a nearby Yamhill County park along the Willamette River, people put-in to go boating on the river. The area is enjoyed by two groups of outdoor types. See if you can spot them…“Look, mom, a Bald Eagle!” “Wow, where is it?” “Ohhhh… so beautiful!” A jet ski slams past other power boats. They hail him with air horns to slow and observe the “no wake” zone… Further out on the river… Power boats pull squealing skiers over hefty wakes with onboard speakers blaring the beat of rap music. Gliding past, on quieter river waters… A group of kayakers wave. All call across, “Hello. Good day for a paddle.”
On this Google map notice how the Willamette River splits. A narrow river channel is on one side of Ash Island. A wider, main channel, is on the other side.
Folks like the Bald-Eagle-spotter and kayakers tend to migrate to the narrow channel. People who favor powered boats and jet skis generally head for the bigger waters. This arrangement seems to work quite nicely for everyone. As kayakers, we are cautious in the shared waters between Roger’s Landing and the entry point to the narrow river channel.
The narrow channel provides a quiet refuge for non-powered boats like kayaks and canoes. There, observing wildlife, photography, and fishing can be enjoyed on calm waters as Ash Island provides a shield from the churning activity created by motorized boats.
Chehalem Creek empties into the Willamette River at the point where slow-boaters bear right into the quieter channel. It looked like an interesting side trip. We were lured in. Mature Oregon Ash trees tower above the native shrubbery that grows along steep creek banks… Red Osier Dogwood, Douglas Spirea, Willow.
Chehalem Creek bed was crossed by various levels of downed trees. Some we paddled over, others around, and many right under.
Until… no farther could we go. Passage at this point was completely blocked by a log jam. The reflection on still water made it look even larger.
It’s probably good there was a blockage. We imagined the creek would eventually meet up with the Willamette again. That was an incorrect assumption… the headwaters for the creek rise between the Tualatin River and Yamhill River drainage area above Larsen Reservoir approximately 6 miles southeast of Gaston… about 14miles way by USGS distance measurements.
The confluence of the Chehalem Creek with the Willamette is marked by this huge, downed Ash tree. I wonder how old this tree was when it fell.
Back on the river, it was exciting to look up to see an Osprey circling to make a landing in one of the tall Ash trees.
Seems the Osprey and I were both interested in observing what the other was doing.
I paddled past the site of an old log dump- built before the timber industry logged off the woods that once grew here. During a paddle last August, there were a large number of Great Blue Herons in this vicinity. This trip, only one was observed.
Bird sightings were actually not very successful during this paddle trip. I was ready to give up and call it a day.
When my attention was drawn to slight rippling on the glassy water. Fish jumping? No… Water striders? No… Other kayakers? No…
A bunch of willow leaves “swam” past me along the bank! Could it be? Yes!! Beavers were at work.
They are very difficult to capture in photos. I was only able to capture them in the water… Several times they were annoyed with my presence…slapped the water with a paddle-like tail and disappeared under water after executing a distinctive cannonball-like dive. Too bad- none of the dive photos were in focus.
The beavers were busy at work swimming in the river. Meanwhile, along the banks, nutria gnawed on grass. They were less skittish about having a photographer nearby.
As late afternoon merged with the evening, I caught up with my husband. We decided it was a good time to begin the three mile paddle back to Roger’s Landing.
An astonishing sky show held our attention all the way back as the dull clouds that had hung around all day suddenly turned magical. Gray gave way to rich reds, pinks, golds, and violets. Color… greedy and unwilling to give its self away… lingered.
The kayaks were finally pulled from the water as the moon readied to do its job.
Color, drained at last, returned to the grays that would darken into night.
USGS Geographic Names Information System- http://geonames.usgs.gov/apex/f?p=gnispq:3:0::NO::P3_FID:1160884
USGS The National Map View- http://geonames.usgs.gov/apex/f?p=gnispq:3:0::NO::P3_FID:1160884
Wikipedia, Chehalem Creek- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chehalem_Creek