We did NOT see the beaver dam, the water control structure, or the channel that connects the two lakes. Did I say two lakes? With the high water level (16 ft. at the Vancouver gage), it was really more like Smith Bybee Lake—just one body of water. We could imagine where the channel might be, but we just plotted a path through whatever vegetation was showing above the water and went where we wanted. The beaver dam at the far end of the lake was completely submerged. Dan paddled about 50 feet past where I believe it is, but he could go no further, which did not surprise me; still, I’d never been “back” there to know for sure. We could see the tip-top of one part of the water control structure (dam) that holds water in the lakes when Metro decides to do so. Today the lakes and the Columbia Slough shared one waterway as the dam was below water. One could easily have said “Smith and Bybee is nice, but I’m heading to Astoria,” and off they could have gone down the slough to the Columbia.
Luckily, no one did that, as my goal is always to get back with at least the number of people who launched. We managed that with no problem. Kudos to today’s paddlers who respected the Four P’s: Please Plan to be a Pod Participant! It made leading the trip a pleasure. Thank you, paddlers! And thanks go out to fellow Trip Organizers Dan Numbers and Monte Johnson who co-led this trip. Tip: there is a very nice grassy sloped area by the never-used Wapato Prison at the far end of the lake where we had a lunch break.
I really look forward to getting back to the lakes in a month or so when the water’s lower and the trees have leaves. It will look so different. I hope you can join me then.
This trip is limited to OOPS members with WEC (unless exempt under Activity Policy, F. 1.). To register, you'll need to log into your member account on the OOPS website.
Narrative: Time to warm-up the kayaking body and get some muscle memory going! I’ll be paddling the four Wednesdays in April on local waters with Level 1 conditions. These will be relaxed pace paddles, but anyone who wants to sprint is welcome to paddle circles around the group. SUPs are welcome.
At Smith and Bybee Lakes, we’ll casually work on some paddling strokes as we explore the lakes and see how the heron rookery at the far end is doing. This 2,000-acre nature reserve is home to a multitude of wildlife, from ospreys to bald eagles and beavers, and is the largest protected urban wetland in the nation. We may paddle from 6-8 miles depending on where we explore.
We’ll launch at 11 and plan to be off the water by 2:30 p.m. We will observe the
Four Ps: Please Plan to be a Pod Participant! If you are a lone wolf, this is not the trip for you. Bathrooms are available at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area, just before reaching the launch site at the end of the road. Free parking along the road. Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area, 5300 North Marine Drive, Portland, OR 97217
Meeting Time: 10:30:00 AM
Launch Time: 11:00:00 AM
Type of activity: Paddle Trip
Put in: Launch area near dead end of road
Take out: Launch area near dead end of road
Route Alternative for bad weather: TBD
Minimum Immersion protection: Full wet suit
Primary Organizer: Chris Mayou
Assistant Organizer(s): Dan Numbers & Monte Johnson
Has organizer paddled here before? Yes
Has organizer led an OOPS paddle here before? No
Organizer's first aid and CPR current? Yes
First Aid /CPR Person:
Maximum number of paddlers: 14
I certify that I understand and will conduct this activity in accordance with the OOPS Activity Policy: Yes
Estimated Air Temperature: 55
Estimated Water Temperature: 46
Estimated Water Time: 3-3.5 hrs. including a break
Tide times & heights: The lakes are close to flood stage and we will be there during high tide. This should make it easier to paddle around, though usual channels may be less visible. This can add to fun of exploring the lakes. Come with a sense of adventure.
Current information: There is no current to speak of.
Wind strength: Level 1: 0-7 knots (8 mph)
Swell/Surf size: Level 1: Under 1' waves, no breaking waves
Sea state: Level 1: Waves up to the deck seam; water glassy to rippled, no whitecaps
Landing types: Level 1: Frequent easy landing opportunities including gently sloping, sand, gravel or grass
Currents: Level 1: None or mild (less than 1 knot)
Total distance: Level 2: 6 to 11 miles
Open crossing: Level 1: No open crossing
Overall rating: Level 1
Rating Comments: If the weather is mild, only the distance exceeds a Level 1 trip. If the weather looks windy, we may choose another location.
Location (Optional): Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area, 5300 North Marine Drive, Portland, OR 97217
Oregon Ocean Paddling SocietyPortland, Oregon