Creating community on the Clackamas River
Mike Pulham met his best friend while rafting on the Clackamas River.
"He found me on Facebook and said, 'I want to go rafting,'" said Pulham, who also operates a travel business. "We met at the gate at McIver Park, and now he's my best friend."
Pulham has been coordinating trips for his friends on the Clackamas River for 20 years, offering knowledge of the river and rafting gear to those who need it.
"I host friends, and friends of friends who have never experienced the Clackamas before. I do it to show people the beauty of the river," said the Beaverton resident.
Pulham has rafted on the Clackamas River since he was a teenager, typically going from Milo McIver State Park to Barton Park.
"I've always loved the outdoors. Rafting got me into other things," he said. "I met more and more people who wanted to go."
He enjoys with being people as they experience the river for the first time, which is one reason why he began coordinating trips for his friends.
"I love when people look around and think, 'Wow, this is spectacular,'" he said. "It's that inner reflection on how it impacts you."
Several years ago, he took a couple visiting from Libya to the river. It was the first time they had seen a forest.
"They looked around at the beauty they had never seen before," he recalled. "Taking people to the Clackamas is my biggest joy."
One reason Pulham appreciates the Clackamas River is the opportunities for reflection it provides.
"Rivers bring out what's meaningful. It really makes you soak in the environment," he said.
Conservation is another significant element of Pulham's journeys on the Clackamas River.
"Pollution on the Clackamas really bothers me," he said. "I want to bring people to the river, educate people and leave (the river) better than we found it."
Pulham has made numerous friends through his journeys on the Clackamas, and many on the trips have also connected with one another. Two of the attendees who met on a trip are now married, another pair are engaged, and there are "a lot of long-term friends."
"It's really cool to introduce people on the river, and then see them together," Pulham said.
He thinks it's fitting that many relationships were formed on the river.
"It's a gathering place to enhance life," he added. "It's really cool to see some long term friendships form there."
Pulham's love of guiding people on the Clackamas led him to take them other places as well, including the Deschutes River, Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson. He credits these experiences with inspiring him to launch Good Vibes Travel, which takes people on adventures around the world.
"The Clackamas was the foundation. It all started on the Clackamas," he said.
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