Posted by: Columbia River | July 12, 2011

Castlegar to Grand Coulee

After making it to Castlegar by mid-afternoon I continued towards the town of Trail. There was fairly decent current which made things a lot easier. Prior to this point I had to power every single stroke to move the boat, now I could just cruise and enjoy the flow. Shortly before dark I passed Keel roughly two or three miles above the town of Trail. He decided to pull over for the night and I waved as I went by. Happy he was doing well I continued into the heart of Trail. After passing a few houses the Teck Cominco factory came into sight. Please click here for more information on the effects of this company on the Columbia River.

Passing underneath a large highway bridge, I decided to call it a night and set up my tent. It snowed roughly four to six inches that night. In the morning everything was covered in snow and the temperature was noticeably colder. Shortly after putting on Keel caught up to me. We talked for a bit and decided it was smart to pass over the border together in case customs was an issue. Between Trail and the border there are a few fairly fun rapids one of which is supposed to be quazi-technical at higher water.

After crossing the border the clouds cleared and sun came out.

Reaching the border we saw no signs of any customs buildings or frankly anything that looked at all like a border. For roughly 10-15km the Columbia passes through a beautiful stretch which feels more like a non-moving river than a lake. We continued on down and after a short bit reached the noticeable start of Lake Roosevelt, our home for the next three days.

Kettle Falls circa 1860.

During this time Keel and I passed over what was once known as Kettle Falls. This was once a legendary fishing spot near the US-Canada border forever lost on June 5th, 1941 by not only the drowning waters formed by Lake Roosevelt but also the poor planning of Grand Coulee which ended all upriver migratory salmon. The sheer walls of Grand Coulee and the lack of any fish ladders forever changed the environment and way of life for the people of this area.

110 miles till Grand Coulee Dam.

While paddling across the lake Keel and I would leap frog one another a few times a day. For short periods of time we would paddle together and after a bit we were on common ground once again. Personally, I really enjoyed paddling solo and Keel was able to go much faster so it made sense to paddle at our own pace and meet up whenever we passed. Previous tensions aside it was nice to see Keel whenever he came by to know he was doing well and still on his way.

Cold sets in as the sun goes down.

Paddling with Keel through the night. Note the ice covering.

For the original Columbia Experience post on this stretch: Click Here.

-Paul Gamache

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