6th Graders Kayak the Columbia

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Paddlers Unite!

We left Catlin early Saturday—7:45—and took the ferry at Cathlamat across the Columbia because of a landslide on Hwy 4 in Washington. We arrived at Skamokawa at about 10:30, got suited up, and drove to our put-in. Four students went in tandem boats, and three when in solos. We paddled about 5 miles downriver, stopping for lunch on a windy beach a little over half-way.


Mark and Katie, our guides, were fantastic. They wove in stories of ancient tsunamis that impacted the local ecosystem, talked about Native American traditions of the area, and explained the white settlement process. They also helped students identify several birds and insects and make sense of the tidal patterns.


One student kayaked for the first time in his life, and several had only tried it once or twice. All got the hang of it fairly quickly. Katie towed one student through a tricky section where it was a bit exposed and windy, but otherwise students were self-sufficient and adequately challenged and successful.


We finished kayaking around 3:00, cleaned up, and drove out to Cape Disappointment. We set up our tents and then headed to the beach. After a few hours building incredible drift wood forts on Waikiki Beach, we went back to our campsite and cooked burritos for dinner. We were in bed by 10:15.


Breakfast consisted of peanut butter, banana, nutella, and honey sandwiches, along with hot chocolate. We packed up the bus and drove to the trailhead to the park’s lighthouse. The two mile hike proved to be plenty in the rain and wind, and we then went to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. After lunch beside an “urban” lake park in Ilwaco, we headed over the Astoria Bridge and home along Hwy 26. 


Students agreed that this was the perfect introduction to kayaking, and many are already looking forward to convincing their families and friends to try it out!