Posted by: Columbia River | June 3, 2009

Castlegar – Grand Coulee

Hugh Keenleyside Dam and hydroelectric station on the Columbia River forms the “Arrow Lakes” resevoir, formerly two separate, large natural lakes called Upper and Lower Arrow Lake. The Columbia River below Keenleyside is one of the few miles of free flowing waters left on the river. It picks up speed past the town of Trial, though the boarder and into Lake Roosevelt.

The Town of Trail is also home to the largest non-ferrous lead and zinc smelter in the world, Teck Cominco, in the heart of downtown Trail. Teck Cominco is a frightening thought to those who live downstream of Trail, here is one reason why, Click Here, oh wait, here’s another, Click Here. And since we are on the subject, Click Here!

Lake Roosevelt History:
Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (also called Lake Roosevelt) is the reservoir created in 1941 by the impoundment of the Columbia River by the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. It is named for Franklin D. Roosevelt, who visited the site during the construction of the dam. Covering 125 square miles, it stretches about 150 miles from the Canadian border to Grand Coulee Dam, with over 600 miles of shoreline.

Grand Coulee Dam is a hydroelectric gravity dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington. In the United States, it is the largest electric power producing facility and the largest concrete structure. It’s also the fifth largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world.
The Grand Coulee Dam is almost a mile long at 5223 feet. The spillway is 1,650 feet wide and the hydraulic height of 380 feet. At 550 feet, it is taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza. Opening in 1942 the Dam backed up water past Kettle Falls and covered another ancient fishing grounds. The dam offered no fish passage.

The primary goal of irrigation was postponed as the wartime need for electricity increased. Aluminum smelting was vital to the war effort, and to airplane construction in particular. The electricity was also used to power plutonium production reactors and reprocessing facilities at the Hanford Site.



When Paul and Keel left Keenleyside Dam they had high hopes that since the Mountains were fading in the background that the weather would warm up, unfortunately it ended up being the worst winter conditions yet. They rounded the corner and set their sights on the getting past the border. From the town of Trail the Columbia picked up speed and pushed through some fast moving water down to the border. At the border… well.. didn’t really see the border… guess no one wanted to wait out in the freezing weather.

Soon the swift moving water came to a slow stop in the back of Roosevelt Lake. Days and days of paddling in freezing temperatures put them a few miles upstream of Grand Coulee. During the long days on the lake Paul actually set up a tarp sail with Keel’s help and used it for awhile, however it proved to be faster to keep paddling. “That was the coldest days out on the water for me. All of the gear was covered in a thick layer of ice, dry bags stuck to the frame, and the weather was cold enough to keep it there most of the day” said Paul. At Grand Coulee Keel went ahead to find someone who could help transport Paul’s Cataraft around the Dam. Keel eventually ran into Scott Hunter from the Star….. “Most businesses that might have a suitable trailer were closed. But we ran into Wayne Fowler, of D.W.K. Fowler Construction, who offered to lend a flatbed trailer. The two 24-year-old boaters unloaded the lumber, while I fetched my Jeep.”

Paul and Keel made it around Grand Coulee and were offered a ride around Chief Joseph, the next Dam 47 miles downstream, if they could make it by @ 6pm the next day. They set out, trying hard to paddle 47 miles in the 24 hour time frame! 14 Days into it and getting into a Dam portage every other day!

Here is proof you can have a great time on flat water in the freezing cold, Paul after 12 days of paddling, camping, living, and breathing the Columbia River in March.

All Photos by Paul Gamache
*Check back next week for the video on Castlegar – Grand Coulee

Posted by: Columbia River | May 26, 2009

Arrow Lake

          Columbia River, Arrow Lake, B.C. Revelstoke to Keenleyside Dam



Arrow Lake is a man-made reservoir lake on the Columbia River which connects to the community of Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada. Before Keenleyside Dam went in it was known as Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes. Now the water sits idol just a few miles downstream of Revelstoke stretching all the way to Castlegar. There are no bridges across the lakes, and no road that runs the length of the lakes, but there are three free ferry crossings.

The Arrow Lakes were within the traditional territories of several Indian bands. The lakes first were identified on a map in 1832.The origin of the name was a cultural feature known as Arrow Rock on the east shore of Lower Arrow Lake, a large rock outcrop or overhang above the water, in the face of which was a hole filled with arrows. One early explorer who saw the arrows said they were 30 or 40 feet above the water. According to several versions of the story, an arrow that stuck meant good luck for the shooter, and an arrow that fell meant the opposite. The location was about 25 miles upriver from Castlegar, just north of the Deer Park area. The Arrow Lakes are part of the traditional territory claims of the Sinixt, Okanagan and Ktunaxa peoples, though at the time of contact and during colonization only Sinixt lived along its shores.



We put on the river in Revelstoke in the swift water that leads into the heart of Arrow Lake. The reality quickly came clear that the weather would present problems in arctic conditions. We were simply surviving and due to the time schedule we placed, we were pushing as fast as possible. When the wind wasn’t blowing hard enough to push Paul up river then we had to keep moving. Day one started off great considering the fresh 4 inches of snow and 20 degree temperatures. Once on the river the swift moving water took us deeper into the wilderness of British Columbia. We stopped right at dark and had to break through about 50 feet of ice that extended out from the river right bank. By the time we made it to solid ground our gear was frozen stiff making it tough to get undressed and even getting gear out of the boat was a challenge. The next morning we woke up to more snow and had to break through the ice to get back out onto the river. Day 2 and 3 was more of the same, but with more fog filling the valley. 


Paul was eventually stopped by head wind on the 4th day forcing us to wake at 4am and start paddling to make up time. One night we camped high off the river just north of Nukusp and found the remnants of tracks from an abandoned bulldozer as well as a couple horse shoes left over form the clearing of the lake back in the late 60’s.



On the 6th day Ryan Scott departed the trip in the town of Fauquer, B.C. due to group tensions and ongoing back pain. Paul and Keel pressed on, it took them almost 8 days from the start of the trip to paddle the 140 miles from Revlestoke to Keenleyside. On March 8th Paul and Keel were able to pass through the Locks at Keenleyside and into one of the short sections of ‘free-flowing’ water left on the Columbia Lake System. The weather however was about to get a little colder!


Check out the video


  • Check back next week for Lake Roosevelt and the first dam portage.
  • Posted by: Columbia River | May 11, 2009

    Thank you for all the support!

    Paul and Keel have made it to Astoria!

    Since the start of the trip we have been dealing with surprises left and right. The most pressing issue was the fact that we had to break the trip up into 2 phases due to time issues and frozen lakes. The first phase being Revelstoke to Astoria covering 880 miles and the second being Columbia Lake to Revelstoke later in the summer. The first 880 miles have been very demanding in many ways for the team. Check back for weekly updates from the trip and once again, Thank You for all the support!


    Posted by: Columbia River | March 30, 2009

    Ground Support Journal

    – May 1, Keel has also reached the Ocean!  Video update coming soon.

    April 24, Paul has reached the Pacific Ocean.  Epic trip with a smash hit ending…. story coming soon.

    April 9

    • After a visit to the hospital & x-rays it is confirmed.  Paul has re-fractured an old injury on his left ankle.  Paul’s plans are to return to the Columbia after the EF Lewis race this weekend.  Regarding returning Paul had this to say: “When I broke my ankle 4 years ago I was going to Humboldt State University.  If I can manage to get to class at ‘Hills and Stairs University’ (H.S.U.).  Then I should be able to finish the Columbia”.  He plans to sleep on the cataraft and avoid walking, especially in sandals…
    • No word from Keel.  Last heard he was in Hood River and taking a break from the wind.
    • The source of the Columbia is still locked down under ice and snow.  The team will be unable to complete the expedition by the end of April and will have to return to the source at a later date.
    • WHITEWATER UPDATE – Paul needing a bit of “whitewater therapy” headed out with Todd Anderson, Erik Boomer, Cody Howard, and Lane Jacobs for a quick Money Drop Session.  Todd, Erik, & Paul all had great lines. Afterwards Paul hobbled back to the car, the ankle feeling good and the drop even better!  Update will be at HuckinHuge.  The rest of the crew got on more LW laps and other Columbia River Gorge goodness.

    April 4, is the update.  Lots of stuff happening.

    • Keel hitchhikes into Hood River and handles business, then returns to John Day Dam and puts back in where he left off.  Time off river: 2.5 days  –  need wind break.
    • Paul was pinned down BIG TIME.   Stuck for a day till the winds died down, he  then paddles for 16 hours / 40 miles straight.  When finally pullng over to stop, he slips on an extremely steep embankment and possibly broke his ankle (xrays pending).  Ground Support picks him up after two days of trying to “push on”.  Plans are to get the ankle examined and then “continue the fun!”
    • Party in Hood River was fun, Rush Sturges shows up and runs Metlako, L-Dub was sick with a 3.7 flow as the team boofs their way down to the Columbia River.

    GS out…  update with results shortly.

    April 2, Contact made via phone with Paul. He has been sitting in the same spot since 7am. The wind was blowing 65 mph at Mcnary two days ago and Paul said it’s pretty much the same today. The sandy beaches are gone and he is getting into the rough landscape of the gorge. He is trying for John Day Dam tonight if the winds calm down. paddle hard!

    April 1, Paul is still battling the winds however he managed to paddle ALL night long, well into the next day, stopping around 8am and making it just shy of Arlington. He made about 40 miles of progress! Unbelievable! Updates from our sponsors are starting to pop up, check out this update from AT Paddles here!
    -March 31, Paul calls in from McNary Dam and has been waiting on strong winds to die down just so he can get up to the Locks behind the Dam. “I’m sitting a half mile from the Locks and I can’t make it there because of the wind.”
    -March 30, Paul made it to McNary Dam late in the evening where he camped just  upstream of the Locks.
    – March 29, The Columbia Experience moved down river while the Ground Support went on a tour of the Tri-Cities area’s best whitewater, it did not disappoint. Kennewick Paddle Photo Update here!  ..with Whitewater Update.
    March 28, The Columbia Experience joins together…full team floats the Hanford Section.  “The Waterfall Tour” stretch of man-made, roosty falls into the river.  Kennewick party is a hit. Thanks to Chris Bolken & Leif Kirchoff for hosting the event. And a big thanks to COR CellarsSyncline Winery for their support.
    March 27, Whitewater Update = Cody Howard runs Metlako Falls click here—> Huckin Huge.  TCE camped in Kennewick awaiting arrival of Ground Support for tomorrow’s float.
    March 24, Keel and Paul check in.  They are camped in Kennewick, WA.  Keel went on an airplane tour and while flying over the Columbia, encountered a massive headwind and was stirred up.  “Turbulence, is not a way a to describe it”, says Keel.  click here—>On River Exclusive * Journal Entry. Keel checks in with a days account from the river.
    March 23, Keel and Paul check in.  All is well and they are taking a day off to regroup.  Plans for the party this weekend are still in effect.  Come join us out there!! 
    Video Update here!  – The Wenatchee World makes a short video on the project.  Click “The Columbia Experience” !
    March 22, Paul checks in from the river.  He is waiting for a pick up and will be in Kennewick shortly.
    March 21, 15 miles of progress… the winds must be brutal.
    – March 20, Contact made via phone from Paul. He was in great spirits and made it around Rock Island Dam and 10.2 miles downstream to camp.
    – March 19, Contact made via phone from Paul.  He and Keel has just interviewed with the Wenatchee World (update coming soon).  CLICK HERE for a cool update from The Star!  Paul received a ride around Rocky Reach Dam and will be camped out at the next tonight.
    – March 18, Contact made via phone and track satellite from Paul.  Note: the “Day 17 Camp #2” he actually paddled all night long.  Starting at 9pm till 6am this morning.  Waking back up to glass conditions around 11am.  He calls in and sends a picture via text message of the camp spot.  It is a “locked up for the winter” campground that is completely deserted and in a protected cove.  Waiting to hear or see a check in from today’s travel……scratch that!….as I just wrote that Paul texts:  “Took it easy today and paddled 10 miles to Rocky Reach Dam.  Camping upriver of it and portage (hitchhike) around tomorrow”.
    – March 17, Contact made via phone and track satellite from Paul.  Mentions that he had to walk 2 miles to “scout” the lake to see if it was a bay or not.  ….beats paddling all the way there to find out if it was or not.  Winds seem to be picking up right after noon and are relentless till sundown.  Keel is now far ahead.
    – March 16, Contact made via phone from Keel & Paul.  First actual contact made by Keel with Ground Support.  He wondered about the current situation off river, mentioned that he is writing ALOT and will be sending over files for a Journal Update.  Paul calls twice to check in.  Seems that the headwinds are ridiculously strong and he was just sitting there blowing upstream.  Tough day for TCE.  WHITEWATER UPDATE: Myself and Ryan Scott ran the Little White 5 times and then joined a team of rafters / cat boaters down the Green Truss.  Video Update here!
    – March 15, Contact made via phone message from Paul. He and Keel are sitting just upstream of Chief Joseph Dam! They have managed to paddle about 47 miles in the last 27 hours! They sounded pretty tired, but glad to be where they are.
    – March 14, Contact made via track satellite. 8 miles below Grand Coulee, making great time!
    – March 13, Contact made via phone. Paul was sitting 4 miles upstream of Grand Coulee Dam expecting to take all day the next day to portage around Grand Coulee.
    – March 12, Contact made via track satellite.  Paul calls to check in, leaves message but has zero reception so message is broken and unreadable.
    – March 11, There hasn’t been a check-in as of 23:30.  Headwinds might be very strong and therefore paddling during the night may be necessary.
    – March 10, Days are adding up and TCE seems to be on track.  After a heinous day yesterday (paddling till 9:20PM) today seems to have been a good recovery day and stopping at a normal time (?) – we’ll see.  Fun Fact:  Camp is made in the middle of the Columbia on an island.  Coords: 48.4968, -118.1845 .  EDIT (12:55AM March 11) – Forget what I said!  The dude is possessed…note the track made an hour ago! (12am camp!!!) – holy freakin freezing motivation.
    – March 9, Contact made via track satellite.  Seems after talking with Paul during his passage through Keenleyside, he has amped up the pace and is going full steam ahead.  Fun Fact: I’m shocked to see that he has just pulled over for the night @ 21:16.  Still awaiting an official Brightman update….and to hear how the border x-ing went.  Hopefully there where some USA celebration beers.
    – March 8, Contact made via Phone w/ Paul!  He is making great time and pressing on downstream.  Being able to paddle through the locks at Keenleyside Dam, he is now trailing Keel who is 20 mins ahead of him and will be “completing the rest of the journey separate”.  When asked what he is doing durning the long hours of rowing, Paul responds, “Standing up and dancing all the way down the river.  With an IPod in his reach and paddling late into the nights”.  Ryan Scott has returned to Hood River and is joining myself in the Ground Support tasks.  Check out the first video update here! -amazing footage! & stay tuned!
    – March 7, Contact made via track satellite. Seems to be making good time, stopping just shy of Westley, BC / Keenleyside Dam.
    March 6, Contact made via Phone! Ryan Scott calls and checks in.  Video update – Click Here!
    March 5, Contact made via track satellite during lunch.  No check in for the evening.  wondering….
    March 4, WEND Magazine posts on their blog about The Columbia Experience (TCE from now on) [here].  PADDLING posts on their blog an interview w/ TCE as well [here].  I interviewed with Paddler Magazine about TCE.  Massive coverage  and raising awareness is being conducted as we speak.  Many followers flock to the blog to track the team as we all anxiously await the first “communication check” with actuals.  Fun Fact: 38 degrees with snow and rain at TCE Day 4’s Lunch Spot.  EXCLUSIVE PHOTO UPDATE is up and posted.  Looking good.  GS out.
    – March 3, Contact made via track satellite.  Seems they have stopped at a logging camp (note the checker board-like clear cutting on the hills) and then pushed on for a long afternoon to the days’ camp on River Right (RR from now on) in a North-facing protective cove
    March 2, Contact made via track satellite: The day’s travels took them around Shelter Bay’s point.  Drifting past Sutherland Falls.  WHITEWATER UPDATE: Paddled on the MF Nooksacks’ locked-in, undercut grotto of a gorge.  Another landside blocked access on the road, to the upper reaches of the canyon.  Ironically at the same location as the previous landslide they [dudes with interest in accessing the gravel pit upstream] had just cleared last week!  Clearwater waits….with a log in The Clit.
    March 1, The Columbia Experience’s first wave of core team members launch from the bridges over the Columbia in downtown Revelstoke, BC.   Contact made via Spot Track in the evening:  looks like they are off the road a bit, eliminating any link up with the Shuttle Crew aka campin’ out with Lana and Leif.
    February 28, Last minute packing, a Video Camera purchase and they are off.  Lana and Leif drive them to Revelstoke, BC where it is reported to be “Absolutely beautiful and completely covered in snow!”.
    February 27, The Risen Sun‘s World Premier was a complete success!  It was great to toast to successful prior expeditions, the film and the launch of the next adventure.
    .  .  Cody Howard (GS)


    -April 22, 2009 1:35:27 PM = Day 42 Lunch: Latitude: 46.144 Longitude: -123.3735
    -April 21, 2009 10:19:48 PM  = Day 41 Camp: Latitude: 46.1436 Longitude: -123.2526
    -April 21, 2009 12:49:27 PM = Day 41 Lunch: Latitude: 46.0692 Longitude: -122.8976
    -April 20, 2009 10:05:03 PM = Day 40 Camp: Latitude: 45.8871 Longitude: -122.8046
    -April 19, 2009 11:00:03 PM = Day 39 Camp: Latitude: 45.6103 Longitude: -122.6045
    -April 19, 2009 11:08:57 AM = Day 39 Breakfast: Latitude: 45.6341 Longitude: -121.9654
    -April 18, 2009 7:57:26 PM = Day 38 Camp Latitude: 45.6723 Longitude: -121.891
    -April 18, 2009 5:45:48 AM = Day 38 Breakfast: Latitude: 45.7108 Longitude: -121.4967
    -April 17, 2009 8:00:43 PM = Day 37 Camp: Latitude: 45.6049 Longitude: -121.1427
    -April 16, 2009 10:58:50 PM = Day 36 Camp: Latitude: 45.6212 Longitude: -121.1289
    -April 16, 2009 3:20:33 PM = Day 36 Lunch: Latitude: 45.7106 Longitude: -120.7186
    -April 3 – 13, 2009 – Off the radar, resting in Hood River, OR.
    -April 2, 2009 7:25:28 AM = Day 33 Breakfast: Latitude: 45.7885Longitude: -120.0885
    – April 1, 2009 = Off the radar, Somewhere around McNary Dam.
    – March 31, 2009 11:56:49 PM = Day 31 Camp: Latitude: 45.9409Longitude: -119.2985
    – March 30, 2009 11:40:42 PM = Day 30 Camp: Latitude: 45.9471Longitude: -119.2737
    – March 29, 2009 11:27:24 PM = Day 29 Camp: Latitude: 45.9867Longitude: -118.9893
    – March 24 – 28 = Off the radar.  Camped in Kennewick, WA.
    – March 23, 2009 2:42:47 PM = Day 23 Lunch: Latitdue:46.68353 Longitude:-119.932
    – March 22 = Off the radar.  Phone update.
    – March 21, 2009 6:43:54 PM = Day 21 Camp: Latitdue: 47.093 Longitude: -120.0311
    – March 20, 2009 10:36:25 PM =Day 20 Camp: Latitude: 47.2299 Longitude:-120.0753
    – March 19, 2009 11:57:45 PM=Day 19 Camp: Latitude: 47.3867 Longitude: -120.2627
    – March 18, 2009 6:38:43 AM=Day17Camp#2: Latitude: 47.7973 Longitude:-119.9851
    – March 17, 2009 7:41:55 PM = Day 17 Camp: Latitude: 47.7973 Longitude: -119.9851
    – March 17, 2009 1:08:41 PM = Day 17 Lunch: Latitude: 47.9698 Longitude: -119.8853
    – March 16, 2009 6:14:03 PM = Day 16 Camp: Latitude: 48.1002 Longitude: -119.7357
    – March 16, 2009 2:44:48 PM = Day 16 Lunch: Latitude: 48.0155 Longitude: -119.6788
    – March 15, 2009 10:00:03 PM = Day 15 Camp: Latitude: 47.9938 Longitude:-119.6235
    – March 15, 2009 5:05:34 PM = Day 15 Dinner: Latitude: 48.0288 Longitude:-119.5728
    – March 15, 2009 1:35:03 AM = Day 15 Camp: Latitude: 48.1118 Longitude: -119.2343
    – March 14, 2009 5:46:09 PM = Day 14 Dinner: Latitude: 48.0356 Longitude:-118.9714
    – March 13, 2009 08:33:57PM = Day 13 Camp: Latitude: 47.95 Longitude: -118.8701
    – March 13, 2009 12:04:32 AM = Day 12 Camp: Latitude: 47.9117 Longitude: -118.547
    – March 12, 2009 3:36:14 PM = Day 12 Lunch: Latitude: 47.8926 Longitude: -118.3536
    – March 11, 2009 11:32:58 PM = Day 11 Camp: Latitude: 48.0469 Longitude: -118.3679
    – March 11, 2009 12:01:25 AM = Day 10 Camp: Latitude: 48.3097 Longitude:-118.1861
    – March 10, 2009 5:51:57 PM = Day 10 Dinner: Latitude: 48.4968 Longitude:-118.1845
    – March 09, 2009 9:16:47 PM = Day 9 Camp: Latitude: 48.7336 Longitude: -118.0508
    – March 09, 2009 1:20:43 PM = Day 9 Lunch: Latitude: 48.9147 Longitude: -117.7979
    – March 8, 2009 3:21:13 PM = Day 8 Camp: Latitude: 49.094 Longitude: -117.6857
    – March 8, 2009 3:21:13 PM = Day 8 Lunch: Latitude: 49.3415 Longitude: -117.7481
    – March 7, 2009 10:53:54 PM  = Day 7 Camp: Latitude: 49.3736 Longitude: -117.9522
    – Mar 6 18:01:54 2009 = Day 6 Camp: Latitude: 49.6152 Longitude: -118.1323
    – Mar 5 10:04:43 2009 AM = Day 5 Lunch: Latitude: 49.9814 Longitude: -117.9201
    – March 4, 2009 6:11:00 PM = Day 4 Camp: Latitude: 50.0932 Longitude: -117.9269
    – March 4, 2009 1:21:32 PM = Day 4 Lunch: Latitude: 50.1419 Longitude: -117.8143
    – March 03, 2009 5:45:02 PM = Day 3 Camp: Latitude: 50.28 Longitude: -117.885
    – March 03, 2009 2:24:56 PM = Day 3 Lunch: Latitude: 50.3525 Longitude: -117.9272
    – March 02, 2009 4:23:13 PM = Day 2 Camp: Latitude: 50.5681 Longitude: -117.9512
    – March 02, 2009 12:44:26 PM = Day 2 Lunch: Latitude: 50.6545 Longitude: -117.9368
    – March 01, 2009 5:38:20 PM = Day 1 Camp: Latitude: 50.7699 Longitude: -117.9994
    – March 01, 2009 1:14:27 AM = LAUNCH:  Latitude: 51.0042 Longitude: -118.2199
    – February 28, 2009 7:30:00 AM = In route to Revelstoke, BC / Supplies / Border X-ing
    – February 27, 2009 8:30:00 PM = The Risen Sun Premier / bon voyage! – Seattle, WA
    Posted by: Columbia River | March 29, 2009

    Kennewick Paddle is a hit! – Photo Update

    paulryanyotesPaul, Timber, & Yotes below one of a few canal falls pouring into the Columbia River upstream of Pasco, WA.

    The Kennewick Party drew a great crowd. We paddled 15 miles of the Columbia River on the south end of the Hanford Reach on Saturday. Ground Support arrived just in time and The Risen Sun Premiere later that after noon was a big success! Thanks to Chris Bolken and Leif Kirchoff for hosting the event and COR Cellars & Syncline Winery for their support!



    paul_suncatchersPaul boiling water with the Sun Catchers Oven

    Sunday morning Ground Support said farewell to Paul and Keel since they had to work with the wind. Chris Bolken showed us what the Tri-Cities had to offer for whitewater with Bailie Creek as well as a couple interesting canals. One of which Ryan Scott decided to run that was nearly a 1/4 mile long dropping around 100ft. Video of this descent can be seen in a 2010 Film Release from Huckin Huge

    bailie1Cody Howard (In the water) & Leif Kirchoff at the put-in for Bailie Creek, WA


    ‘The Plunge’ on Bailie Creek

    nflumeRyan & Paul scouting.

    cody_flume1Cody checking out the ‘Nuclear Flume’

    Next weekend, Hood River! Keep checking the Ground Support Journal for daily updates.

    codytimberGround Support out!

    Posted by: Columbia River | March 9, 2009

    On River Exclusive! – Journal Entry

    Journal Entry from Keel Brightman – On River Exclusive!

       I was up at 7:30 and cooked breakfast as the sun rose.  By 8:30 I was fed and laying my stuff on the rocks to dry.  I waited around till 11 thinking Paul was behind me. He never showed so I assumed he must have passed me in the night, for it was calm out with a full moon. Perfect conditions for rowing.  Worst case scenario he was behind me and if that was the case we were only a few days from Grand Coulee.  He could catch up with me there I though it was still below freezing the sun was shining and slight breeze on my back made the first 4 miles a joy.  I rounded a bend and headed down a long straight towards the south, as a breeze began to pick up right in my face.  I ran into a fisherman Tony O’Neil, he had the day off from work in Spokane and was out to enjoy the sun.  He was fishing for catfish at the moment, but hadn’t caught anything yet.  We chatted for a few minutes and he gave me 2 bananas, 1 apple, and 2 cups of pudding.  They said “made with real milk”.  what kind of world do we live in when you have to write that on  the container.  You’d think that’s the only kind of milk out there.  I thanked Tony for the food, I hadn’t had a piece of fruit in 2 weeks besides dried apples.  He Reeled in his line and set off up the lake, grabbing some gas as he left the cove. I watched him fly up the lake covering more ground in a few minutes than i would in a few hours. The wind was picking up and I could not hide from it for there were few features to hide behind.  I got into my best upright posture and began taking long deliberate strokes. My dad would have been proud for he was my paddling coach growing up and I knew it would be the best stroke carry me through the wind. I got on the right bank which was slightly protected and enjoyed 4 hours of quality suffering, making it all of 10 miles.  At the final bend I spotted Paul’s  silhouette far ahead. When I caught up to him I found out he had paddled to well after midnight and had spent the whole day today making it 5 miles up the south section battling the headwind.  I was surprised to see him. He continues to impress me with his tenacity.


          We shared my last cup of coffee together and chatted for a few minutes.  It was 6:30 and the sun was setting.  I was beginning to get cold in the waning light so i bid him farewell and told him i was going to paddle for 2 more hours or so looking to make another 8 miles or so before i camped.  He said he was tired  and that he might not make it that far.  I figured I would wait for him to pass in the morning.
         For the last 2 days the cliffs lining the river were made of sand.  They were eroding and collapsing into the water. But here as i turned the corner heading NW a deep granite gorge began to form. As i paddled between the rising walls looming higher and higher, painted by the setting sun, I wondered.  How many amazing rapids were buried under me in this lake, for the geology screamed of a sweet canyon which would undoubtedly have produced giant whitewater. It was one of the most spectacular sections i had seen on the trip, and i was awed by its grandness as it wound generally westward towards a planet that shone brightly through the increasing darkness.
         I wasn’t worried about the darkness. the mostly full moon had been up shortly after sunset last night.  My planet finally sank into the western horizon, and it became as dark as night can be, the canyon walls looming black all around me.  I lost all depth perception and waited in the darkness for the moon to rise.  It never did for the depth of the canyon and some clouds to the east blocked its light.  i was getting cold but could barely see the mountains around me. I knew i could follow the left bank to avoid an arm that would add 10 mile to my trip if i took it so i paddled along slowly as the water began to freeze in the still air. I paddled along to keep warm my bow cutting a path in the this ice and my paddle crunching through on every stroke.  it was so black i peered into the ink trying to decipher what was mountain and what was reflection. A house lit up in front of me as somebody came home and put my surroundings back into perspective. Turned right and began to follow what i now knew to be the shoreline. I saw a blinking light in the distance and thought it might be Paul’s strobe.  The batteries were dead in mine and my flashlight buried in my dry box which was strapped in behind me. I picked up the pace trying to catch up.  it was good to paddle hard and get my core warmed up again.  As i got close to the light i gave a holler not wanting to scare Paul in the soupy darkness. No response. I got a little closer and yelled and whistled again.  Again no response.  as i closed in i began to talk “Paul is that you? everything alright?”  I floated up and realized all this time i had been talking to a buoy. By now I was tired and know i was loosing my mind.  This i was sure of, if nothing else.  i paddle for another half hour or so and the canyon walls receded enough for the moon to show. I found a suitable spot and stopped.  I was beat and freezing my ass of once again. I got out of my boat and immediately began putting my tent poles together before the bungee froze, my fingers sticking to the frozen metal.  I thought to myself.  Here we go again.  Another night on the Columbia…


    Posted by: Columbia River | March 7, 2009

    TCE – March 23rd Update

    Paul put together a quick video just before a few days rest in the Tri-Cities area.

    Join The Columbia Experience this weekend (3/27-3/29) through the Hanford Reach!  Directions and Details.

    Posted by: Columbia River | March 7, 2009

    TCE – Arrow Lake

    Arrow Lake and the surrounding Monashee and Selkirk Mountains were experiencing a winter inversion with snow pounding the low elevations. According to Roger at the Mushroom Addition in Fauquier “The golf course is usually open this time of year”. However 3 feet of snow still sit with another storm moving in. Here is the first Video Update since the Launch of the Expedition.

    Paul was able to proceed through the Locks at Keenleyside Dam and is now in one of the short sections of moving water on the Columbia. We are anxiously awaiting a phone call as soon as he is back in the states. Check back for daily updates on Ground Support Journal & TCE Live.



    Posted by: Columbia River | March 1, 2009


    So here is an exclusive look at The Columbia Experience launch.  March 1st.  Photos.  Cold.  Ground Support out.

    Ice in the river and putting on in the background

    Ice in the river and putting on in the background

    Revelstoke, BC. 34 degrees with rain and snow.  Day 1

    Revelstoke, BC. 34 degrees with rain and snow. Day 1

    Home for the next 2 months....with a fresh coat of morning snow.

    Home for the next 2 months....with a fresh coat of morning snow.

    Paul loading up his cataraft.  Stoked

    Paul loading up his cataraft. Stoked

    L to R.  Paul Gamache, Ryan Scott and Keel Brightman.  Put in.

    L to R. Paul Gamache, Ryan Scott and Keel Brightman. Put in.

    Cody Howard

    Posted by: Columbia River | March 1, 2009


    kkkkchhhrrrrkkkkk ……. update from Ground Support. Seems the 3 man team has just tracked the first day of the expedition. CLICK HERE for more details and stay tuned to “The Columbia Experience Live” (here) as we follow the epic trip.

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