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There’s a time in the late fall when it hasn’t rained for a while and the Columbia River gets low. Really low. Most boaters have called it a season, but there are still some fine days left if you watch for the right weather window. 

On one such day, Bill and I decided to head out to the Columbia Gorge, just east of Portland. The water was so low at Rooster Rock’s launch ramp that the asphalt didn’t quite make it to the water, so we had to roll our trailers into the muck.

A half-mile channel connects the park to the main river. It was little hard to row because the water was so thin, but we persisted. I stood up and pretended I was a gondolier. Even though our boats float in about a foot of water, we still ran aground plenty of times.

Just as we made it to the Columbia, we noticed that a sand bar had formed at the channel’s mouth. Having gotten this far, we were determined to get to the river, sand bar be dammed.

The laws of physics got in the way of my determination and I ran hard aground. With some embarrassing shoving, tugging, and muck slogging, I pulled through.

Bill was lucky enough to float through. Just barely.

From there the water got a little deeper and the wind started to fill in.

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The Gorge was closed to hiking due to a wildfire, but there were no limitations on the water, so we charged upstream.

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Can you see his smile?
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Cape Horn! Last time we were here, it was literally freezing. This time we had the entire river to ourselves.

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Thankfully the tide had come up while we were sailing. As dusk set in we glided gracefully up the channel, smiles all around.