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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 5, 2020)
| WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2020 | 1B
North Santiam River ﬂoat
a family-friendly adventure
A group of children enjoy the sights on a float down the North Santiam River between Fishermen’s Bend and Mehama boat ramp.
ROBYN ORR/SPECIAL TO THE STATESMAN JOURNAL
geared toward anglers while the Wil-
lamette Kayak and Canoe Club also
helps folks get started.
Understanding the nature of the river
and rapids is critical to a good trip and a
key to future solo adventures.
If you do have whitewater skill and
have seen the river, eNRG also oﬀers
Salem Statesman Journal
USA TODAY NETWORK
There is nothing quite as joyful as the
sound children make when you splash
into the wave of a big rapid.
There’s the sound before impact —
“whoooaaa …” — followed by the boat
exploring in water and sunshine and the
resulting scream-giggle that sounds a
bit like: “AIEEEHAHA!”
And ﬁnally: “let’s do it again!”
Whitewater rafting and kayaking
have long been my favorite summertime
activity. And in the Salem area, we’re
lucky to have one of Oregon’s best sum-
mertime spots right in our backyard.
The North Santiam River is one of a
handful of streams that, because its
controlled by Detroit Dam, provides
whitewater all summer long while many
other rivers get too low.
The North Santiam provides two dif-
ferent experiences. There’s a more chal-
lenging run from Packsaddle Park to
Mill City or Fishermen’s Bend Recrea-
tion Site. Just downstream, there’s a
slightly easier but still fun and scenic
run from Fishermen’s Bend to the Me-
hama bridge boat ramp.
Both require the correct boat, use of a
life jacket and knowledge of the river.
But done right, it can become a fantastic
way to stay cool and socially distance in
the summer, as opposed to driving to
overcrowded swimming holes and
Since my kids are pretty young, our
family ﬂoat has been the Fishermen’s
Bend to Mehama stretch. We are lucky
Scenery, thrills and a lunch stop
Zach Urness rows a raft on the fun and action-packed float between Fishermen’s
Bend Recreation Site and Mehama Bridge. ZACH URNESS/STATESMAN JOURNAL
enough to have a raft that I row, but I’ve
also done this trip in inﬂatable kayaks.
The trick is knowing how to get started.
Running the river
in a safe environment
There are two pretty bad ideas when
it comes to running rivers with signiﬁ-
cant rapids like the North Santiam.
The ﬁrst is using an inner tube that
you can’t navigate with — it’s just a reci-
pe for getting stuck on trees, rocks or
other problems. You don’t have to buy
the most expensive raft, and inﬂatable
kayak designed for whitewater work
nicely, but make sure you can navigate
Another bad idea is ﬂoating the North
Santiam without knowing what you’re
in for. There are numerous islands, rap-
ids and hazards where the wrong choice
could get you in trouble.
That’s why I’d recommend going
with an outﬁtter, such as Mill City’s
eNRG Kayaking, which oﬀers raft and
kayak trips on both sections of the river.
Another option is going with a local
group. The North Santiam Guides Asso-
ciation oﬀers a “Learn the River” series
There are a number of things to love
about the stretch of river from Fisher-
men’s Bend to Mehama.
There’s beautiful scenery, a perfect
place to stop for lunch and just enough
Class II and II+ rapids to keep everybody
having fun with one or two challenging
The downside is that as the water lev-
el drops later in the summer, it becomes
pretty rocky, and makes dodging boul-
ders a real challenge in a big raft like
mine, though it’s not bad in an inﬂatable
Once you set up a shuttle — see below
for details — the run starts from the
Fishermen’s Bend boat ramp and heads
downstream through a few riﬄes before
the ﬁrst set of rapids. These Class II rap-
ids don’t have an oﬃcial name, so let’s
call them Fishermen’s Bend Rapids.
Just below, the river splits at an is-
land. Make sure to go left at ﬁrst, and
then go right down the middle slot of an-
other set of rapids. Let’s call it “Middle
See ADVENTURE, Page 2B
We went clamming and crabbing broke out
“Luck is what happens when prepa-
ration meets opportunity” – attributed
to Seneca, a Roman philosopher.
“Lack of preparation leads to loss of a
lucky opportunity” – Henry
WALDPORT — Pardon the lame-o
fortune cookie-level aphorism above,
but the best way to explain about our
second or third outing outside of Marion
County since March is in terms of an old
“I went to a ﬁght, and a hockey match
To rephrase that in outdoor terms, we
went clamming, and crabbing broke
After the extended viral lockdown
and resulting multiple missed opportu-
nities, cabin fever overcame travel anxi-
eties, sort of.
Two sublegal Dungeness crabs prior to
release. Female is on the left, male is
on the right. As you can see, female
has a wider flap on the underside.
HENRY MILLER/SPECIAL TO THE STATESMAN
And the minus-1.74 foot tide at 8:43
a.m. on July 22 at Alsea Bay seemed
minimally risky, exposure-wise.
The clamming turnout is nothing
like, say, beach-goers in Miami on Me-
On Alsea Bay just south of Newport,
it’s more like a smattering of cockle-rak-
ers, gaper-diggers and tourist “watcha
And the lowest minus tide of the se-
ries fell on a Wednesday, although the
words “summer at the Oregon coast”
can best be described as the Highway
101 creep on the 15 miles between New-
port and Waldport, similar to the pace
and congestion of the Rose Parade, any
day of the week.
One of the watcha doin’s was a cou-
ple who pulled in to a parking spot near
They were semi-locals, but hadn’t
tried their luck clamming at Alsea Bay.
When we told them we were raking
cockles, the guy said they saw some-
thing interesting on the beach right next
to the Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive
He said they met a guy in waders had
a lumpy-looking burlap bag with him.
“Clams?” he said he asked Mr. Lumpy
“Nope,” or words to that eﬀect, he
He had, in fact, used a spot-and-
stalk, snatch-and-grab technique to bag
10 legal Dungeness crabs, two under the
daily limit, in the sack.
Hmm, I thought.
I was about 50 yards down from
Kay’s car and about 5 yards out in the
bay in the eel grass when I spotted my
ﬁrst crab, deﬁnitely keeper-size.
Picking it up with the rake, I took it to
shore and ﬂipped it on its back.
A female. You can only keep males.
You can tell by the wide ﬂap on the
underside of the females.
Back it went.
Ha, you think.
Mr. Lumpy Bag across the bay was
probably a ﬂuke.
OK, so about ﬁve minutes later,
there’s another one.
See MILLER, Page 2B