March 19th 2017 – Broad River Spring Kickoff Paddle Trip Report
When I started paddling in 2007, I was both new to the Columbia area and to Kayaking. So, for that first year, I paddled alone or with a family member the entire year just about every weekend. I learned a lot about the Columbia area and rivers in general. As I entered the winter of 2007/2008 and kayaked less, I became involved with a few outdoors groups and met some more people who shared my interests in the outdoors. As March came around, I organized what would become my “Spring Kickoff Paddle” as an opportunity to encourage my paddling friends to get on the water after winter. While I did not organize one in 2015/2016(was too busy keeping up with a New baby to commit) I look very positive on the event as it was what kick-started my interest in leading kayak trips at all levels and I have seen it encourage many people to take their first steps into kayaking!
Now on to the 2017 event! The weatherman gave us temp in the mid 60’s with sunny blue skies. There was a light wind with a few gusts here and there. We had 16 paddlers (15 boats) all meet up at Riverfront park to drop boats and gear. My amazing supportive wife and son helped get everyone signed up and with shuttling boats and gear down to Rosewood. We got all the boats down to the put in just below the diversion dam. After a brief safety talk, everyone launched their boats into the water. Myself and Ian Randolph were on point (Instructions being follow whichever one of us is up front since, one of us will be eddying out for safety at certain points) and John Derrick on sweep. We also had several other experienced long time paddlers Jim, Marie, and Mike Hollis stepping in when needed to provide help. Right after the put in is probably the most difficult/most technical rapid of the entire run. The route generally for a move from the initial eddy, back toward the center of the river over the first small drop and then back toward the right toward the next drop in the center of the river. In the 6 previous times, I have hosted this trip, this has been one of the most troublesome spots for beginners. This year was no exception. I eddied out after the first drop and Ian led the group down through the second drop. One canoe did not get far enough over and caught a rock sideways at the top drop causing an out of boat experience. At the second drop, we had another swim. Gear was collected quickly after both swims and after warming up, both paddlers were eager to get back in their boats and paddle on!
The next mile we continued and enjoyed the sunshine at a relaxed pace. Once we reached I-126, Ian eddied out after the first drop and I continued guiding the group down to the next large eddy in between the bridges. We had one paddler on a Sit on top flip and the group quickly performed an in current open water rescue and got the boater back in the boat. All boaters successfully navigated the remaining shoals and reached the confluence.
At the confluence, Eagle eye-d paddlers were treated with a view of one of the Bald Eagles who populate the nest in the center of the river. Although, it was not a clear view and at a distance. After a couple. We navigated the rest of the shoals with a couple of minor incidents and reached Gervais street. After reaching Gervais, we paddled the remaining stretch without incident reminiscing about some of the moonlight paddles we had done on that section in the dark and how we need to schedule some more of those this Summer. At the railroad bridge, we jokingly attempted to persuade a few guys standing on the bridge to do a backflip off the bridge down to the water. They were nowhere near drunk enough to even consider the request though.
All in all, everyone appeared to have a great time, and I had a blast hosting. Looking forward to the next one!