Loopy- Loo float around Siletz
Feb 23, 2013

The purpose of the Toledo Community Boathouse is "To get people on the water" Building boats is a means to accomplishing that goal, but it's not actually "getting people on the water." Every once in a while, we need to do a float.

The Boathouse serves all of East County, so we decided we'd better make sure we are using all of our resources. We decided to do a float around the town of Siletz. I'd done the float in July of 2011, now let's see what it's like in February.

This is the map from the first run, back in July. The town of Siletz sits inside an oxbow of the river, so it's a very convenient paddle to do: Put in at Hee Hee Illahee park and float down river to Old Mill Site park - they are only 1/2 miles apart by land, but about 4.5 miles by water.

I'd gone in to the Boathouse do do some work, and when I got done, I needed to switch from work clothes into canoeing clothes. I did this at the public bathrooms the Port of Toledo had installed in the summer of 2012 (I don't want to be caught, standing around naked, inside the Boathouse - something like that would be hard to live down.) As usual, I'd forgotten most of my gear: Drybag, coat, waterproof boots, etc.

I was running a little late, so when I got to Hee Hee, Shaleen was guarding the canoes while Chuck and Bob drove their cars to Old Mill and walked back. I dropped off my gear and hustled across town. The river is MUCH higher in February than it is in July, but not as bad as it *could* be. Look closely at the tree branches behind Shaleen - those tufts of grass are leftover from near floodwaters this past winter.

I parked the car in the mud lot at Old Mill and headed back - and I noticed even though it was 48°, there was still hail on the ground. Nice day to forget my coat.

Back at the park, we put in at 12:01 - almost perfectly on time. The river was running very fast. There is no dock, so Chuck was trying to launch into the slack water next to the bank on the left. The current grabbed the bow and twisted the boat around. We had to have Shaleen disembark and try again.

Success! Now all they had to do was avoid any snags or sweeps as they tried to maneuver out into the river. Also, turning a canoe sideways into the current can be a hazard - it pays to pay attention.

I launched next, then Bob. Bob was sporting a new drysuit that looked really nice. I might have to get me one of those if I am going to do more adventuring in the winter, I might need to get one.

The Siletz River is an estuary and has excellent salmon runs and the locals like to set up the Oregon equivalent of an ice-fishing shed.

Bob was loving this. The river was running very fast and high and Bob was just enjoying the day.

Chuck and Shaleen were having a good time, too. The Siletz is no Yaquina or Willamette - there were spots with standing waves and some pretty tight bends in the river - with sweepers on the outside edge waiting to pull you out of your boat.

My little Yaquina Canoe is NOT suitable for this type of canoeing - after we passed through one set of standing waves, Bob said "It looks like you have about an inch of freeboard. How are you doing?" I ended up doing fine, though I did ship about a half gallon of water over the bow.

Chuck was smiling, but you could tell he was a little nervous. The river was night/day compared to July (which has it's own challenges) but, once launched, it is difficult to stop, so we just kept going.

Pictures don't do the rough bits justice - and I have to tell you: Taking pictures while terrified you're going to dump it is not an option. You'll notice I'm the only one stupid enough to even have a camera.

I'd wanted to get a shot of Bob as he passed by that waterfall on the way down, but I was kinda busy trying not to tip over.

There's some people that LOVE their river - I'm impressed with the effort and expense these guys go through to maintain their stairway thorough all the stages of the river's flow.

The final stretch is nice, flat, moving water - Bob started complaining that it'd all gone by too quickly. He was right, of course.

I passed my camera to Bob so he could get a shot of me with the bridge. That's a very small canoe for the kind of water we'd seen upriver.

There's me, paddling like a white man - arms all out and up high, water running down the paddles. Normally, I am against using a kayak paddle on a canoe, but as I've said before: that's a small canoe. You have to work REALLY hard to paddle straight while you can just laze along with a kayak paddle.

And then we arrive at Old Mill Site for the pull out. The ramp is rough asphalt and there is no dock, so we did our best to just get close and hop out. I had the hardest time of it.

Chuck and Shaleen approaching from downriver, just like you are supposed to do.

And there's our happy little band of adventurers, safe and sound. No one even got wet - a sure sign of a successful paddle.