Columbia River Water Trail // Expedition 2014

In October 2014, I led an expedition along the Lower Columbia River Water Trail (CRWT), a 146-mile journey between the Bonneville Dam and the Pacific Ocean. In 7 days, our team of five paddlers—which included a writer (me!), a photographer, and an environmental scientist—camped on uninhabited islands, explored urban waterways, and traced the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve booked slideshows in Washington and Oregon, where we’ll be sharing photos, video, and stories. (I also recently posted a gear list here.) In the meantime, these are some of the photos that we posted live from the river:

Our route plan was simple: we followed the river to the ocean. We put in at Beacon Rock (just west of the Bonneville Dam) and paddled through the Columbia River Gorge toward Portland and Vancouver, then turned northwest as we made our way through the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. We had planned to end at Fort Clatsop, which was the winter encampment for the Corps of Discovery from December 1805 to March 1806, but due to logistics we pulled our kayaks out of the water in Astoria. We saw eagles and salmon and sea lions, and we met some delightful strangers who are now friends.

Expedition Objectives

  • Promote awareness of a relatively unknown urban adventure.
  • Create dynamic media (including photos, videos, and stories) for use by Ecotrust.
  • Pay homage to the Lewis & Clark expedition and their role in the history of the Pacific Northwest.

Reading List

As we planned this trip, we did lots of research—and had lots of questions from other paddlers about where they can find more information about the Columbia River. If you’re interested, these are some of the resources we found helpful:

The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail: A Guide for Paddlers, Hikers, and Other Explorers

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West

Paddling the Columbia: A Guide to All 1200 Miles of Our Scenic and Historical River

Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery

CRWTOnlineAll expeditions have complicated logistics, and this trip would not have been possible without our sponsors, friends, and family. We were given advice, gear, moral support, and encouragement—both on this expedition and in life—and as we paddled, we remembered the words of Thornton Wilder: “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”