September 18, 2004

Yakima, WA – Biking and Kayaking

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:25 pm by diandy2004

We experienced a little culture shock coming back into civilization after spending the last few weeks in Olympic and Rainier. Cars, city noises, tighter camp spaces. But, we have WIFI, a heated swimming pool to do laps in, cable TV to watch Hurricane Ivan, and the other conveniences of city life.  We also had SUN –  glorious, glorious SUNSHINE!

After doing our laps and soaking in the jacuzzi we got on our bikes and rode the Yakima Greenway. The Greenway is a nice paved path that follows the Yakima River and connects 3 different parks in the city. It felt great to get in some exercise (other than walking/hiking).  We biked from the RV park to the southern end & Popoff Nature Trail.

We had expected a little more from the city of Yakima itself. For some reason we expected “Durango” or “Coeur d’Alene” type of a feel in the city. Probably because wineries and microbreweries usually create an eclectic, touristy feel. But the feel of the city we have (after a whopping 12 hours) is that it is purely agriculture, lower-income. Maybe we’re missing something, but we did drive around last night seeking a good place to eat out and saw quite a bit of the city.

Today we were going to try to get in a paddle – if we can find some more information on paddling the Yakima River near Roza Dam quickly. As of right now, we still plan on leaving tomorrow and heading towards the Columbia River Gorge.

|||Two Days Later|||

Well, we didn’t leave Yakima yesterday as expected. Apparently Willie Nelson was having a concert down on the Columbia River Gorge in the area we were heading and all the campgrounds were booked.

Oh well, at least we were able to go kayaking on the Yakima River because of the delay. We drove into the Yakima Canyon area to check out the river. We had learned that there were lots of places to put in and take out. Most people do it as a one-way float trip and set up a shuttle system. Instead of us setting up a bike-shuttle, though, we decided to do it as an out-and-back trip figuring it would be more convenient. (Partly because the apple-crate semi-tractor trailers use this road.  We weren’t comfortable sharing the road on our bikes.)  The river looked doable. Since there was less current closer to the dam we put in at Roza Recreational Site and paddled towards the dam. It started out easy enough, but quickly became a workout. The current got stronger the further north we paddled. We did have a couple of eddies that we were able to duck into in order to take a breather and enjoy our surroundings.  Did we mention that eastern Washington is a desert? Well it is and it’s been a shock to be back in brown-grass and sage bushes after coming out of the rainforests of the NW. So we’d sit in the eddies and look out at the brown slopes of the canyon. We saw several deer, birds, and baby fish.

Of course our competitive sides kicked in when we hit this one riffle (small rapids). Both of us tried feverishly to paddle up and over it, but to no avail. We’d get about three-quarters of the way through and then get stopped as if we hit a brick wall. We both finally quit and portaged over it. After that, though, the river just became harder and harder to paddle and make any headway. Diane was the first to cry “uncle”. It’s just no fun when there is no visible progress. But it was a good thing we turned around when we did. Big, black rain clouds came in from every direction and the rain started minutes after we loaded the kayaks on our car.