S/V AQUILA 2010 Lake Roosevelt Cruise...

John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens when your busy making other plans." That certainly is the case for me. I note a passage of several months it has taken me to put together this sailing post. A period of time with a lot of life and plans inter-weaving into a tapestry occasionally above my control. The 2010 Cruise takes place upon the waters of the mighty Columbia River, on the shores of  Lake Roosevelt in northeastern Washington State, U.S.A.
Before we begin, a quick refresher on Lake Roosevelt as mentioned above the lake is formed by the waters of the Columbia River restricted behind Grand Coulee Dam. The full name of this 150 mile long body of water is Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake. The lake has over 600 miles of shoreline consisting of indented coves, sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and broad bays.The Lake Roosevelt watershed drains 44,969 square miles, almost 88% of which originates in Canada. The water in Lake Roosevelt comes from glacial ice, lakes and precipitation base made up of mostly melting snow pack in the spring. Close to 89% of Lake Roosevelt’s water comes from the Columbia River.   There are four additional rivers joining this inland waterway within the confines of the lake. They are, in order of occurrence; the Kettle River, the Colville River, the Spokane River and the San Poil River, with the Spokane being the largest of the four. Of the remaining water flow 7% comes from the Spokane River and 4% comes from a combination of the Kettle, Colville, and Sanpoil Rivers.

Here is a view of the Grand Coulee Dam impounding the waters of the Columbia River. Lake Roosevelt is upstream from the dam.

Lets start the adventure on the sailing vessel Aquila with the opening day of our cruise - Catherine's birthday, September 6th. It was good to be under way after a visit to our friends of Crandal Coffee Roasters. John and Janet also own and operate Riverview Organic Orchards where Catherine and I like to top off our provisions in their pleasant, little on-site store.  Here is a Google Earth view of the Rickey Point portion of Lake Roosevelt. Note the cluster of sailboats in our buoy field to the middle right of the image.

There's a lot of work that goes into getting a sailboat ready for a short cruise. It was good to have all the intense prepping, packing, loading, and transferring of the supplies and gear from the truck to the boat and everything stowed. In the following image we have put a tarp over Aquila's boom and sheltered the cockpit from the pelting rain falling throughout our first two days underway. Actually, as can be seen with Cathy's use of the laptop, we are quite comfortable under the boom-tent.

With boom tent in place the cockpit of AQUILA is dry. Photos by Foster

The late start from our shoreside, morning visits and a bit of sleeping in equated to a relatively short first day underway. We made Stranger Creek Cove, just off the Colville village of Inchelium. A bit of the townsite can be seen to the west of our anchorage in the following image. This is technically the New Inchelium as the old town sunk under the waters of Lake Roosevelt at the completion of the dam in the early 1940s.
Our anchorage in Stranger Creek Cove is denoted in the next image by a red X. North of our safe harbor is Hall Creek a long, deep drainage too deep for anchoring unless one wants to tie a shoreline to hold the boat in place (more on that later).  For those of you who are interested in exploring Lake Roosevelt yourselves, in this well protected anchorage we continue into the secondary area and drop the hook in 20+ feet of water. The bottom is good holding mud allowing the anchor to set well. We feed out 100 feet of chain and a bit of rope road and sleep well knowing we are secure for the night. If you are remote camping (including boats) on Colville Indian Reservation lands a recreation permit is required.

Inchelium is home to the Gifford-Inchelium Ferry  The Columbia Princess, pictured here, in an image by Catherine, as seen from the aft end of the boom-tent over Aquila's cockpit.

There are three distinct regional variances on Roosevelt Lake. In the northern reaches between  Northport and Marcus the lake is narrow, less than half a mile across, and subject to Columbia River currents. I refer to this portion of the lake as the 'Northern Reach'. Once below the north region the lake broadens, in some areas up to two miles across. The 'Middle Reach' is a 75 mile long stretch of lake/river between Marcus and "the Great Bend" of the Columbia River.  From well into Canada until the Great Bend the lake/river has maintained a north to south orientation. The Great Bend is where the worlds largest lava plateau, the Columbia Plateau forces a course change in this vast drainage and the lake becomes an east to west flow. At this point the third region of the lake begins, the Basalt Reach. Wherein the Middle Region is predominantly forested slopes with open meadows on gentle rolling mountains, the Basalt Reach is towering cliffs, sheer rock bluffs, steep and craggy canyons with mostly sparse timber surrounded by open grass and shrub lands. The Northern and Middle reaches of the lake receive much greater precipitation (20+ inches annually) than the Basalt Reach (10 inches or less).
The image below is roughly a twenty mile stretch of waterway encompassing the Great Bend of the Columbia River / Roosevelt Lake. The Spokane River Arm is in the upper right with the Hawk Creek in the lower right. Looking closely you can see the communities of Seven Bays on the eastern shore (north being the top of the image) and Lincoln on the southern shore. Sterling Point points directly into what was named Castle Cove prior to the coming of the lake. A rugged, cliff and crag zone rising two thousand vertical feet out of the valley below.
Let us navigate back to the 2010 cruise of the sailing vessel Aquila. Our 2nd night out was in Hawk Creek but our tiredness after a 42 mile slog south from Stranger Creek, at five miles an hour, and the continuing rain stifled our creative energy. The camera stayed in the bag and we in the berth. The next day saw an improvement in the weather and our route 'around the bend' into Duck Pan Cove on the northern and eastern shore near the start of Castle Cove was a short one.
About place names: if there is a map or chart name to the place we are visiting we will use that name in reference to the location. Sometimes we find names in historical materials we read and if no current name is in use we'll revert to the historical name. Occasionally our inquiry with locals will lead us to a place name that is common knowledge. But often there are no readily available names for the coves, beaches, grotto's, and bays we visit, in which case we find names in the experience we have in that location. Such as Coyote Cove where the coyotes serenaded us in the wee hours of the morning one night. The moniker Duck Pan Cove came from a visit we paid to this anchorage years ago when we found a discarded yellow rubber duck and a bit later, during a dive, an old fry pan skillet on the lake bottom, thus Duck Pan Cove. Now I wanted to get that clear - we named this cove years ago and it had nothing to do with hunting or frying ducks. That said, I'll now share with you the photos of this years visit to Duck Pan Cove and the family of ducks we met...

Note Aquila beach anchored in the middle ground of this photograph. Beach anchoring is when a vessel sets and anchor forward and backs itself to shore. A shoreline is then tied securely to an object on land assuring the vessel cannot 'swing ' at anchor. This technique is often used to either gain easy access to shore or to anchor in deep water where it is not practical to allow the vessel to swing on the hook. Back to the image; at the inflatable tender in the foreground a line of ducklings can be seen pursuing Catherine and I after having greeted us at the boat.

Animal lover that she is Cathy cannot resist the ducklings, who are without apparent mother duck, crowding the boat seeking handouts.
The next photograph is one Catherine composed. The overhead view of the ducklings, their coloring and the water texture and darkness all combine to make an excellent photograph of these young water fowl. Image by Catherine Brown

Here's a look at our anchorage in Duck Pan Cove from a Gogle Earth rendered view. Red X marks the spot.

Into the Basalt Reach ~ the continuing journey of the sailing vessel AQUILA down the Columbia River, onto Roosevelt Lake and occasionally back in time…

In the first installment of this blog-series the Basalt Reach was identified as the lower third of Roosevelt Lake with a rough definition of the geological and topographical features noted. Long before the waters were restricted behind the massive concrete walls of Grand Coulee Dam there was a notable portion of the mighty Columbia, just northwest of the Great Bend that early explorers named Castle Cove. This unique area, while not a true cove in the sense of the word as a small type of bay or coastal inlet, was a landmark in and of its own right. Described here in the words of First Lieutenant Thomas William Symons of the Corps of Engineers in 1881:
"Deeply encanoned with steep, rocky... perpendicular bluffs..." As we depart the anchorage of Duck Pan Cove the bow of our S2, 9.2C sailing vessel AQUILA points downstream on these inland waters and into the bend of Castle Cove...

In this Google Earth rendered image of Castle Cove we see the shoreline of Roosevelt Lake made rugged by the intermix with near vertical slopes of Castle Cove.
Catherine is seen in this image with the backdrop of Castle Cove in the distance.
Towering nearly 2,500 vertical feet from the waters surface this unique geological area marks the southeastern terminal of the Kettle River Range, a north/south set of mountains running the length of Ferry County WA. If you transit the area keep a sharp eye out for the numerous species of wildlife found in these lower reaches of the Colville Indian Reservation.
We were fortunate to spot these Bighorn sheep (below) browsing a rare meadow in the lower reaches of the Castle Cove area along the shoreline of Roosevelt Lake. Later our friends Jay and Janice on the sailing vessel BLUE HERON spotted the herd just to the west of the Palisades area. Photograph J. Foster Fanning
On the western edge of Castle Cove there is an area I've enjoyed since first sailing these waters in the early 1980's - The Palisades. This rendered Google Earth image shows the general area, its several islands and the vertical cliffs rising straight up from the watery depths. The red X marks the spot where we prefer to anchor.

In this stock photograph (below), the sailing vessel AQUILA is beach anchored with her stern shore-tied at Palisades Beach. Catherine & I enjoyed two nights in this quiet anchorage where there are no roads nearby; no artificial lights cluttering the night sky and no sounds other than the occasional passing boat or aircraft.
While we were working our way 'downlake' towards an eventual series of rendezvous there was no hurry in our pace. Thus our two days at the Palisades were relaxed. Sleeping-in, leisurely morning coffee, reading a favorite book, fishing, playing Scrabble and a fine assortment of meals, snacks and beverages all added to the 'island-time' feel of the cruise. Photo below: Catherine fishing The Palisades.
In closing ~ we all know that living on a boat for an extended period of time is a tough job - but somebody's gotta' do it, so here we are taking one for the team...
Next installment: Continuing downlake to the Keller Ferry area.

Sailing to the Keller Ferry area...

Thought it might be fun to start this segment off with a video shot exclusively on this 2010 sail cruise. While the story line has us departing Palisades area heading downlake to rendezvous with family and friends, the video is a composite of footage shot throughout the trip.
In the photograph below Catherine is standing bow-watch as we turn our sailing vessel AQUILA into Moonshine Bay a small cove notched into the southern shore of Roosevelt Lake just south of the landmark Whitestone Rock. There is rumors afoot that Whitestone Winery is nearby. A vineyard under the ridge of a huge basalt bluff.
Well, were not yet sure about the winery but here is a view of the nearby basalt bluff standing nearly 2,000 vertical feet over the lake waters. This escarpment is representative the landscape framing the Basalt Reach of the lower Lake Roosevelt area, especially along the southern lake shore.

A bit of sleuthing about on-line and the Whitestone Winery has been discovered (at least by this writer). They have an attractive and informative web page located at: http://www.whitestonewinery.com/Story.html The aerial photograph they post of Whitestone Rock is worth the visit to their site.
Speaking of Whitestone Rock, here is a view of the vertical pillar from the deck of AQUILA.

For many years before white explorers or settlers came to the area the San Poil People lived in a village along Swah-netk'-qhu what we now call the Columbia River in the shadow of Whitestone Rock. When I reflect upon the early peoples of the river and how they lived in this area, then layer the coming of the explorers, trappers, settlers with the ensuing clash of cultures all woven into the vast upheaval of lifestyles as the dam was built and the waters impounded the story becomes extremely complex. Often I sail over these clear, still waters in as much amazement of what has been as those forgotten peoples would be to have seen forward to my vessel several hundred feet above them in a vision of what was to be.

This rendered image (above) of AQUILA'S headsail across Whitestone with her halyard flags in shadow is called  Smohalla and Skolaskin represented by the two ghost images appearing in the rock face.
Here's a link to a small piece of Native American history of the Whitestone area including Smohalla and Skolaskin:
We'll close with this image of the Martha S. crossing the Columbia River / Roosevelt Lake on her route known as the Keller Ferry . Can't see her? Look closely under the headsail...
For all you WA State Ferry buffs:

The Martha S., also known as the Keller Ferry, is the only Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) owned and operated ferry in Eastern Washington (the rest are on Puget Sound in Western Washington). She crosses the Columbia River (Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake) between Lincoln County and Ferry County at the confluence of the Columbia and the Sanpoil River. This ferry run has been under state control since 1930, and connects the northern and southern segments of State Route 21. This was the first ferry owned and run by the state of Washington; the more familiar state-owned Puget Sound ferries did not commence until 1951.

Martha S. is powered by two diesel engines making total 470 horsepower. She is 80 feet in length and 30 feet in beam. Maximum capacity is 12 cars. She was launched in 1948 and has been in continuous service since then.Hours of operation are 6:00 a.m. to Midnight 7 days per week. The fare to ride is free.

The WSDOT is in the midst of planning the acquisition of a replacement ferry along with the construction of new terminals. Currently the project funding falls $5.5 million short of the estimated cost. Justification for replacing the Martha S. includes replacement parts for it are no longer being commercially manufactured and must be custom-made as needed. In addition she has a limited capacity, especially when large trucks are on board.

Moonbeam Bay, on Roosevelt Lake, is located directly across the lake (west) from the Keller Marina. I'll start this fourth installment of the 2010 AQUILA Cruise with an overview of the bay and surrounding environs from about 5,000 vertical feet thanks to Google Earth.  In this image north is to the right.
This anchorage is one of our favorite if we are managing the logistics of rendezvousing with guests or crew during the cruise, as was the case this year. With WA State Highway 21 and the Keller Marina facilities nearby embarking and debarking crew is made easier. The red X in the above image denotes where we anchored AQUILA. On the nearby beach is where our friends Connie and Larry set up camp. Their mode of transportation this year was Larry's rowing dory which they loaded with gear and beach camped out of.  
If you double click the image and get a larger view you can see why we call this area of Roosevelt Lake "Little Baja". Arid landscape, for the most part denude of trees and temperature wise it can be quite hot. We call the island in the mouth of the bay and the adjacent, nearly identical peak to the south the Sentinels of the Bay with the island being The Guardian. I've never heard a name given to the quarter mile long island laying offshore to the northeast of the bay. If anyone knows it's name I'd be glad to hear from you.

Below is an image of one of the Sentinels of the Bay ~ The Guardian Island seen from the anchorage as the September sun sets.
Moonbeam Bay is a rather large anchorage (for Roosevelt Lake) approximately a quarter mile in width and nearly a half mile in length. In the image below I have climbed The Guardian Island to get this photograph of AQUILA at anchor and of the dory/beach camp.

Keeping with the orientation of the landscape for one more photo (below) again shot from the top of The Guardian, this is a view looking NE out onto the lake and the larger island laying offshore from the mouth of the bay. The water in the distance, beyond the island, is where the Keller Ferry has its route.

Lets set a different tack here and step aboard the sailing vessel AQUILA with our friends Connie and Larry seen here (below) enjoying an afternoon sail in the photograph by Catherine.

As it worked out our friend Dave (Snowy) happened to be out and paddling about with a kayak full of fishing gear. He took us up on an offer of an afternoon sail and special pirate drink as seen in this image by Catherine.
As often good days do, this one seemed to flow by way too fast, and soon we were saying goodbye to Snowy as he paddled off into the sunset.

Below is a photograph of Moonbeam Bay under the late twilight evening with a new moon in the apex of the southern sky.

Our last logistic of this phase of the Keller Ferry area was to take on new crew. Our favorite, Clementine...

Coming soon ~ Hell Gate Island anchorage and beyond...

5th Installment
Admittedly I have a bit of fascination regarding place names. We all live within a geographic area somehow known for it's place name. Hills, brooks, meadows, roads, mountains, bridges, buildings and so many other things can have names to identify, note and address the manner in which we interact with those named points and our environment. Try these on for size:

Aguilar, San Roc, Thegayo... To us norwesterners they all have something in common albeit most of us have no idea what it is. The above are a small sampling of a long list of names given to the Columbia River over the course of the last few hundred years. As well as; The Oregon, River of the West and Estrada de Hezeta. Of course often, we of European heritage, forget our native cousins named places as well and in most cases long before noted history. How about; Sken-I-Te-Ke, Chock-A-Li-Lum, and Swan-Ate-Ku (often for singular portions of the river). But it was on On May 19, 1792, that Robert Gray, named this great river for his ship COLUMBIA.

With the above intro, I must tell you now,  the name of this chapter ~ Hell Gate Island, simply does not live up, or would that be down, to its reputation. No thundering water funneled betwixt towering rock walls. Foaming cauldrons and tumbling logs. That all vanished in 1941 when the massive gates of Grand Coulee Dam closed and the waters of Franklin Roosevelt Lake backed up nearly 150 miles upstream.

Here's what the Hell Gate area of the Columbia River looks like now...

In the rendered Google image above Hell Gate Island is in the foreground. Our anchorage in the near by bay is marked with the red 'X'. Double click the image to see a larger version of this beautiful, if barren landscape.
The above photograph of Hell Gate anchorage taken from the northern summit of the island shows the sand spit  connecting the island to the mainland during low water periods. We roused a doe and fawn shading under thick brush on the island as we hiked out to capture this image.
During this cruise we anchored in this bay two different times. Once on the way to the Keller Marina area (see above) and again with friends and crew referenced now.

I wanted to introduce the Hell Gate area before I posted this next photograph. And this photo is an introduction of sorts to another part of the story, written in 1921 by M.J. Lorraine. But first the picture;
Silva rowing... by Catherine Brown

In the image above boat builder and watersman, Larry Silva is rowing his handmade dory from Moonbeam Bay, near Keller Marina, to Hell Gate anchorage. Rowing his handmade dory nearly 300 feet above the old water channel of the Columbia River. Here's that bit of the story wrote in 1921...

Hell Gate Rapids, Columbia River

In the summer of 1921, M.J. Lorraine, an engineer by trade arrived at the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River near Canal Flats, British Columbia and began construction of a rowing dory to take him down the 1,200 mile course of the river. He was 68 years old at the time!

While there may have been other men to do so, Mr. Lorraine was one of the first to write a book-length memoir about rowing the Columbia River, headwaters to ocean. Lorraine who described himself as “an old voyager and white water man”, did manage to row the entire length of the Columbia River. This was a feat that not even David Thompson, the first European to descend the Columbia, had accomplished – to make a continuous one-way trip from the headwaters to saltwater. 1,264 miles of wild river with no dams upon it. Not only was M.J. Lorraine one of the first to achieve such an accomplishment he was one of the last as well given the dams began to restrict the flow of the Columbia River right after his adventure.

Here’s what Mr. Lorraine has to say about the current location where we find the sailing vessel AQUILA in this blog series. Remember this was before Grand Coulee Dam and the description of the landscape lay 100 feet of water below our surface anchorage.

Of Hell Gate circa 1921:
“South of the international border — precisely 126.5 miles downriver”, Lorraine writes, “the boatmen encountered the rapids at Hell Gate.” Lorraine described Hell Gate as “a contracted gorge of perpendicular walls of considerable height, and at the entrance is a large, protruding rock dividing a swift current agitated, below the rock, into fair-sized breakers which dissolve into a quiet eddy within the enclosing walls.” Lorraine ran the rapids alone, as always, and this time “in underwear only,” prepared to swim if his dory capsized. It didn't. “To the man at the oars, the only thoughts are of the necessity of a cool head and hand, and the exertion of a little muscle — the making of no misplays, either mental or physical.”

As I settle back and re-read the above reflections of handmade boats and the people who venture forth to explore in them fill my mind...

A couple more images and we'll close the Hell Gate chapter for now.

AQUILA, our 1987 S-2 30 foot sailboat at anchor in Hell Gate anchorage.

After a few days of sharing the anchorage, meals, and stories our friends depart and we sail on to another chapter of our cruise. Next installment - Return to Pallisades...

For a link to read more about M. J. Lorraine check out the website of the NW History Council at http://www.nwcouncil.org/history/rowingundammed.asp

Anyone following these sail/cruise blog posts knows that the good ship AQUILA and crew really enjoy their time spent in an area of Roosevelt Lake called The Palisades. This is the southern most point of Ferry County on the Colville Reservation (permit required).

Using this image captured during a 2004 cruise to illustrate the general area of granite crags and cliffs plunging deep into the lake. The vessels beach/anchored here are at one of the two sand beaches in the Palisades area. These rock walls predominantly face south and throughout a sunny day accumulate solar radiation warming the nearby waters. Anchored herein swimming becomes a daily exercise. And the water, in the late summer months tends to be warm. Frequently over 75* and for us norwesterners that’s warm! Unfortunately the 2010 summer season, for this area had unusually overcast and cooler than normal. And the lake waters?  At best ~ a bit brisk.

On this 2010 cruise we had the good fortune to cross wakes with another R.P.S.C. member vessel, BLUE HERON, a Kent Ranger 26', with Jay and Janice aboard.
Below is BLUE HERON working her way into the Palisades Beach anchorage.
Last year we earned our Patos Island Fire Department hoodies when we joined forces with Orcas Fire Department on Patos Island in the San Juan archipelago.This year, since we were cruising inland we missed the island work party and had to make do wearing our shirts and telling the story. This one's for you Maxx!
Photo by Jay Berube
Think I mentioned in this area swimming is a daily exercise. Here's a few fun fotos to share...
Below: Mermaid off the bow... Pics by Catherine Brown

Below: Inside a narrow passage between the rock walls I'm getting ready to dive down and explore the opening to a fissure cave in the underwater cliffs.

Unfortunately we were not using an underwater camera this trip but I do have this stock photo (below) from a  dive in the same area that Catherine took in 2002. Not bad for Ferry County, huh?

The AQUILA crew collectively celebrates their birthday's in September. In the image below we are out seeking our birthday challenge 2010...

And we found it. Cliff diving on an overcast day into much less than 75* water (this year).

After a day like this whenever someone said "Happy Birthday" to me I just smiled and agreed. Indeed it was...


Herman Melville once said, "Life's a voyage that's homeward bound"... And within context of our story the vessel AQUILA  is soon to be too...
It was later in the September month as the weather again changed from sunshine to storm clouds that departures, once only planned, were starting to take affect. Here is a photo of BLUE HERON rafted to AQUILA in the Palisades anchorage. We were to part later in this day. BLUE HERON on her uplake run.
AQUILA another night at this anchor and then re-bound for Keller Marina where our crew, Clementine, would debark.

While the Palisades of Roosevelt Lake are a delightful anchorage, there is no real swing room. And rocks abound. Thus the shore tie. It was after our buddy-boat's departure, with the weather changing and the wind rising, we opted to deploy a second anchor system; AQUILA'S storm hook ~ our Fortress anchor. This is a high tensile, aluminum / magnesium alloy design with very positive holding power. The cool thing is this anchor breaks down to a very stowable package. It and the daily used Claw anchor, all their respective chain and rope rode reside in the boat's bow locker. The first part of the image below shows the Fortress assembled and ready for action. Cathy lowered it overboard into the Zodiac tender and I hauled it out forward of our vessel to form a 'V' between both hooks and the bow of the boat. This provided optimum holding power in the event the winds began to screech over night. They didn't. But I certainly slept better knowing we were prepared.
In the last installment I introduced M.J. Lorrain, the 68 year old gentlemen who in 1921 built a dory and rowed the length of this mighty river of the west. Indeed the Colombia attracts a number of people to traverse it's 1,200+ mile length. I had worked on plans to do so in an 18" boat twenty plus years ago for Washington State's 100th Centennial but changes occurred and that adventure never left the drawing board. Another fellow did travel those 1,200 miles more recently ~ swimming! Christopher Swain swam the Columbia River from it's headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Here's a link to Christopher's SOURCE TO SEA webpage: http://www.swimforcleanwater.org/
Here's an online image from the cover of SOURCE TO SEA DVD of Swain in action. He has currently just finished swimming New York's Hudson River, again source to sea.
The next portion of our cruise was a double back to the Keller Marina where Ms. Clementine departed and Catherine and I started the homeward leg of the journey.
Below: The Keller Marina area.

In all of our busy lives relaxed time together is such a precious thing. Like water through our fingers time slips past us and is gone. Use it well...
From cozy, below deck, card games to bidding the Keller Ferry adieu as our crew heads for home. It is all part of the tapestry of life...

While there aren't many sailing vessels in the southwestern reaches of the lake we occasionally do come across other sailors as in the picture below of Belinda and Mark, from Winthrop, on the Black Watch vessel seen here in a sheltered cove near Whitestone.

Howling winds and driving rains marked the last few days of our cruise. Not the usual mix of weather for Roosevelt Lake at the end of September. But accommodations below deck remained snug, dry and inviting for the off watch crew.
Well friends, that brings closure to the 2010 AQUILA cruise. Hope you had a good time following along through these last seven chapters.
And if you still haven't had enough of this great river basin check out the following 200th celebration of explorer David Thompson's expedition down these waters. You can even join a canoe flotilla yourself...
Two hundred years ago, in 1811, fur trader, explorer, surveyor, and mapmaker David Thompson reached the Pacific Ocean adding the Columbia River as the final leg of the fur trade highway between Montreal and the Pacific. His route would be used for fifty years as the major route across the Rocky Mountains by the twice annual Columbia Express, later adapted by the Hudson’s Bay Company to become the York Factory Express.

The fur trade was a unique era that depended upon collaboration between native peoples and Europeans exchanging furs and other bounties of the land and rivers for trade items manufactured far away. Fur trade exploration shaped the boundaries of Canada and the United States.

In 2011 salute the Columbia River Basin and its history by paddling voyageur canoes 1800 kilometers (1200 miles) along David Thompson’s historic route from present day Invermere, British Columbia, to Astoria, Oregon.