Is this practical?

Hello, my friends and I are planning on making a weekend kayak trip, and want to know if its practical. We are leaving from Corvallis, OR on Friday about 9:30 PM, and want to make it too Portland,OR by Sunday afternoon. We know its gonna be rough, but we think we can make it. Non of us are very experienced kayakers, but we’re pretty athletic, and are planning on doing a lot of paddling to make it in time. We’re planning on taking sleeping shifts during the night and staying on the water. We’re gonna go on land for the waterfall, and walk around it. Do you guys think this is possible? And do you have any advice? Thanks for the help.


– Last Updated: Oct-04-12 6:53 AM EST –

Experienced paddlers could probably go the distance in that amount of time without having to paddle through the night. If you don't know the river, navigation hazards, boat traffic at night on the lower river etc. it's a bad idea to do this at your experience level. Break the trip up into some day paddles and get some experience before trying to do the whole section in one shot. What kayaks will you be using to do this?

Not even a little
81 miles between the two by road, and the river wiggles enough to add at least another third of that distance.

There are other aspects of your plan that are a very bad idea, like sleeping over on a river that had at least to points of some fairly major boat traffic thru intersections and not being very experienced kayakers, but the distance is a killer before you ever get there.

Why this plan? Just traveling up by car to drop in at various points would still give you plenty of river to see, in daylight.

have a solid plan
I’ve done lots of 40 mile days in a kayak, and 20+ hour days of climbing and various ultra endurance activities and it’s not ‘fun’ by most peoples standard but I get the attraction of seeing what you can do.

Bring back up lights, and fully charged phones, bivy gear and multiple sets of dry clothes,body glide for chafing, super glue and tape for blisters. and LOTs of snickers bars. WEAR your lifejackets as your chances of falling in will rise with low blood sugar and fatigue. Have someone on shore you can check in with and report your position, just so the SAR team knows where to start searching if you go missing.

Google earth say 112 miles in 40 hours minus 10 hours for breaks, it seems doable at 3 miles/hour. I would try and do a few 8-12 hour day trips to get an idea of your average speed over a day and help toughen your hands and dial in your boat fit and other issues that crop up after that long in a boat.

Why do people think paddling is easy ?

– Last Updated: Oct-04-12 3:45 PM EST –

Hopefully you've done ""something"" similar
actually paddling on the water - because -
nothing really compares.

Need more info about background on the water
before I would advise staying home.

Experienced kayaker died near Portland - this year -
in rugged terrain and steep cliffs.

There is a slew of rescues, incidents and mishaps
in the Portland area in the past few years.

WHERE are you planning to paddle ?

You have any ICE COLD water experience
- proper gear, training, knowledge, etc ?

MID June the water temps are 40-50 degrees F

by Staff
Posted on June 15, 2012 at 12:11 PM

PORTLAND - With water temperatures in the
mid 40s to lower 50s in many area rivers
and streams, the National Weather Service
is warning people about safety

no need to be flippant
He asked what you thought, so clearly, hew didn’t think it would be easy. Goodness.

Over-the-top reply
You mentioned someone dying on the water near cliffs and rugged terrain, so I looked at air photos of the locale and see that the area around this river is as flat as central Illinois. Somehow you thought temperatures in the mid-40s in June, occurring at SOME location nearby, is relevant so I checked water temperatures midway along the route, and they are fluctuating roughly between 55 and 60 in recent days. That’s not good for swimming but not colder than I would have expected for this time of year, and not something a near-shore river paddler needs to consider “fatal” in the event of a capsize. Having extra clothes in dry storage and mostly not straying too far from shore would be precaution enough for most people.

Other than that, yeah it’s a longer trip than most people with not much experience can do, but certainly not impossible for someone who’s strong and highly motivated by the challenge.

lots of missing information
You’ve had a range of responses, but I would find it hard to respond myself not knowing what your paddling experience has been to date and how you were equipped.

What kind of boats are you planning to use? Rented rec boats and paddles? Touring kayaks that you are already familiar with? That will affect speed and safety a great deal. What kind of gear do you plan on taking as far as clothing and safety equipment? Your comment on “sleeping in shifts on the water” concerns me. Are you in tandems and hoping one person can sleep while the other paddles? Not realistic. Or were you planning to tow each other (even more unrealistic – this is a difficult thing to do even in short term rescue situations.) Have you ever spent a continuous period of time even just sitting in a kayak? Do you have the flexibility and stamina for this? Just being “athletic” and competent in one or more other sports doesn’t mean your could hold up to this one. I have often taken very fit athletes (fitter than myself, in fact) out on daytime kayaking tours in well outfitted boat and had them whining about back pain, sore hands and leg cramps within a few hours or less.

Last of all, why, as novices in the sport, would you be planning a very long and probably exhausting trip that even experienced paddlers might have second thoughts about when you have no idea how fast you can paddle and have never tried paddling in the dark or continuously anywhere? Planning time/distance challenges like this should only be done when you have a realistic concept of the effort involved and know already how you will hold up and what you need to bring.

Maybe you do have good answers to these questions. But I think they need to be laid out before anybody can comment realistically on this planned outing.

Perhaps we are being overly concerned about this expedition. My instinct is that all of you would bail before midnight Friday, haul out and hitchhike back to your cars at the put in.

My feeling is
if you have to ask if its practical then its probably not practical.

Exactly! n.m.

In spite of what I said above about the idea that some people might actually succeed at this, it looks like they really haven’t paddled enough to know how tough it will be. They probably haven’t even paddled enough to experience how a good bit of practice will multiply the distance that can be covered with reasonable effort, and this will go WAY beyond reasonable effort.

Death isn’t sugar coated

– Last Updated: Oct-04-12 8:41 PM EST –

Literally DOZENS of these stories around Portland

The water is cold and the terrain is rugged
- do the homework along the entire paddle path

I made nothing up, it's in the news reports of death

What’s the relevance

– Last Updated: Oct-04-12 9:06 PM EST –

People used to say "what's that got to do with the price of rice in China" about the kinds of examples you love to cite when it comes to "proving" danger. Apparently you believe that that because someone died in really rough whitewater on a completely different river, that's proof that this big, slow, meandering flatwater river presents similar danger. Total irrelevance was the case for your earlier warnings too.

How about if we stick to the fact that this trip is just too damned long for most "experts", let alone most beginners. No need to complicate things with details that don't apply.

I have to ask
Is this serious? Or just a troll? I hate to call something a troll if the OP is proposing doing something they really intend to do that could result in a disaster, which it sounds like it would. But this really sounds like a novice nightmare.

River is decent for year round paddling
Actually it’s a nice water path for relative flatwater paddling and recommended year round by Oregon State recreation. You just need some more experience and a better idea of what a 100+ mile continuous paddle is like. You are going to be very very very uncomfortable.

I love Disco
Let’s hope they dressed for cold nights

Have you checked into the feasibility of the portage at Oregon City? It may take way more time than you think. Why not start at Salem and make it a shorter trip? You can do the more challenging trip once you have more experience. Will it be new or full moon? Having done a little night paddling many many years ago, I would not do it again on a river I was not very familiar with - even one as apparently lazy as the Willamette.

wrong question

– Last Updated: Oct-05-12 10:03 AM EST –

People don't usually ask if a something is "practical" or not. That's because what's practical for one person is not practical for another.

I know quite a few paddlers who can put in 40 mile during the daylight hours. After all, if you can paddle consistently at 4 mph for 10 hours, that covers it! 4 mph on flat water isn't all that hard to do for strong paddlers with good technique on a fast boat. (I was on a trip where the complain being the group going too slowly at "only" 3 knots!)

So, why complicate matters by paddling at night? If you can maintain 4mph, you get to see the scenery along the bank, and sleep relaxingly when it gets dark. But if you can't maintain that speed, you're better off just take a few lesson & practice some more. And maybe get a faster boat.

I'm a better cyclist than I'm a kayaker. I do 100 miles in about 6-7 hrs and do the same the next day. But every so often, I would see "athletic" newbie on a hybrid spending 12 hrs struggling to finish 100 mile. They insist it's an "achievement" just to prove they "can do it". Well, all it proves is their ignorance. Because with a little training and more appropriate equipment, it's just a casual day!

So, go out and paddle 10 hrs and see how many miles you cover and whether you can get up the next morning and do it again. You don't need to ask, you'll see for yourself whether it's practical or not, for you!

very practical suggestion. abc
I hope they try it (the ten mile trial paddle).

better yet, ten hour
have some bail out points if it becomes to much and see how ten hours feels during daylight. Then learn what hazards there are along the rest of the route that could be a problem at night. Then do some shorter section with good bail outs at night to be sure. I personally have a policy to not do any land or water wilderness journey without having done the same route by day to understand the hazards.

But otherwise after doing some homework and testing things out a bit it seems like a doable trip at the right time of the year with good conditions.