Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kayaking on the Copalis River (Upstream)

We had planned to kayak on Lake Quinault this day and drove all the way out there, but learned from the lady at the Rain Forest Resort that all boating on the lake was prohibited until April 25th.  Boating on Lake Quinault is regulated by the Quinault tribe.  The two campgrounds with boat ramps were also closed.  It was frustrating that I didn't find this information anywhere online.  It was a shame, since the lake was especially beautiful this day with glass calm water.

Since the weather was iffy, we decided to look for a kayaking destination close to home (Pacific Beach), in case the rain let loose.  We ended up at the Copalis River.  The weather improved throughout the day, so the rain was no problem.  We launched from an empty lot in the middle of town with a little beach across from the abandoned hardware store.  There isn't much "town" left in Copalis Beach.  Most businesses in the area are located in Pacific Beach.  At the end of our trip I scouted out and found another launch point in the Griffiths-Priday Ocean Beach Park off of Copalis Beach.  If you drive all the way to the "road closed" sign, the river is just beyond.  You can launch here and park nearby.

We headed upstream from the town away from the beach.  We passed under the highway 109 bridge, past a few riverside cabins, and then we quickly reached a wild, roadless country.  For a mile or so the banks of the river are occupied by wide mats of grass and skeletons of dead trees.  The forest stands at some distance from the river.  Perhaps salt water has reached up this far on a high tide and killed any trees.  What appeared to be an island was covered by this matted grass with tall dead trees dominating the landscape - we named it the Island of Dead Trees.  Beyond the island, the next landmark is the Bridge To and From Nowhere: a series of posts standing in the river that evidently once supported a bridge, but there is no sign of human activity on either side of the river.  Evidently, it was part of some old logging operation.

Eventually, the forest closes in on the river, the river narrows, and you start to run out of room to maneuver.  We struggled past a clump of fallen trees and branches, only to be stopped a little further ahead by a tree that blocked the entire river.  I think we traveled about 2 miles inland in total.

We saw a little bit of wildlife: two river otters and lots of ducks.  The ducks were very skittish and didn't let us approach closely at all.  Duck hunters must be active in the area?

We had planned to return to our starting point and continue on down to the beach and land near Copalis Rock.  But the wind had kicked up on our return journey downriver and we were cold and tired as we reached the car.  We'll save the downriver route for another trip.

(Great ocean view, short walk to beach, 3 king beds, kayaks available to guests)

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