As far as rivers go, Tualatins stream isnt exactly treacherous. Its an easy-going, amiable river, one that doesnt worry much about propelling floaters to their destinations. This makes it a dream for novice canoeists, kayakers and paddle boarders alike. And for those with a little more experience, a float on the Tualatin River is a day made for relaxation.
Last Saturday, the Tualatin Riverkeepers celebrated the 25th annual Tualatin River Discovery Day, and even a little morning rain couldnt stop the event.
Wear a raincoat. Keep a towel in your car. If we get caught in a downpour, we can wait under a bridge until it stops, wrote Riverkeeper advocacy and communications manager Brian Wegener in an email prior to the event. He meant business.
Luckily for the events 200 participants, the day was downpour free. Floaters were invited to make reservations and bring their own gear, or to rent the essentials from the Riverkeepers for $30. The float began at Tualatin Community Park and ended 3.5 miles downstream at Metros Borland. While some participating groups were small, many people took it as an opportunity to round up friends and family for a couple hours on the water.
One meandering group was with the Mt. Hood SkiKats, which aside from skiing during the winter, goes on frequent bike rides, hikes and floats during the spring and summer months. In the group was Henry Bendinelli, a month shy of his 90th birthday with friends quick to share his accomplishments.
Hes a little active, said friend and fellow club member Jeannie Coyle. Henrys a diehard skiier no snowboarding. Diehard canoer no kayaking.
And since the native Oregonian has skiied Timberline every year since it opened (and a few years before that), its not hard to believe that hes been taking advantage of Oregons other natural wonders, as well.
Why do I like this river? Because nobodys ever on it, thats why, Bendinelli said with a laugh. I bought my first canoe in the 1970s. We were kind of an anomaly in those days.
Though he wasnt doing much of the paddling on Saturday, Bendinelli didnt hesitate to offer advice to his fellow canoeists.
Whos guiding this? he said as their fleet starting shifting toward the bank. Give us a swift push on the right, will ya?
With that, the crew aligned the boats and went back to floating straight down the river.
To make sure that all the participators at Discovery Day made it through the trip safely and enjoyably, safety boats were placed throughout the route at several different mile markers. Two of these volunteers were Paul and Molly Whitney, a father/daughter duo whove been volunteering with the Riverkeepers for more than two decades.
As a retired ecologist, Paul Whitney has helped with some of the more technical aspects of the rivers maintenance. For Molly Whitney, growing up on the river gave her a career objective, and was even the basis for her undergraduate thesis project. Today, she does development work for Water Watch of Oregon.
The Tualatin River was the catalyst for all that, she said. Its so nice to have a river thats here that you can get out on . . . Its a river right in your own backyard.
Even for her father, who used to canoe through Alaska for weeks on end, the Tualatin River has always been a welcome attraction.
When youre away from the highway . . . it gets quiet. I refer to it as the undiscovered wilderness, Paul Whitney said. I can feel my heart rate lower. Its relaxing.
Throughout the 25th Discovery Day, words like relaxing and peaceful were the first ones mentioned when participators explained what brought them out. The Tualatin River might not be challenging to maneuver for experienced water people, but its an escape from reality right in the middle of town.