There are great elements to every day on the water that come together perfectly for you to embrace. Everyday you learn something new, you see something you've never seen before, you feel something unique to that day. If a person is open to new experiences and new adventures, then every day is a fresh, exciting journey.
I woke up last week, cracking early on a Monday, which I would never do unless the sea wasn't calling. The drive out to the coast from the house is an hour and change that is reserved for waking up, pumping tunes and yerba mate' directly into my veins. Just as this cocktail of stimulants converged on my system, the full moon peeked through the western clouds just moments before setting into the great Pacific. I feel like a Full moon setting is something that I must have experienced before but I couldn't imagine a more perfect, haunting light to follow to the coast.
As I ripped over the Coast Range, our gateway to the sea, the passing trees began to reveal themselves, little by little, until finally they exploded with sunlight and our endemic light drizzle.
In February, when you see sunlight cresting the hills and bouncing off their tops you kind of freak out. I usually mark the occasion with some strange hoot of a sound that I can't control. It sort of just happens, not my fault. I was still reeling from the moonset I had seen earlier when I rounded the bend and was slapped in the face with a sunrise rainbow. Again, I swear I must have seen this kind of thing before but couldn't recall it. Another new, maybe once in a lifetime experience facilitated by Cascadia's dynamic weather patterns. Good omen? Maybe.
My goal for that day was to surf a new board I got from Imagine Surf. That was it. I wanted waves, good waves and in February when the sun is shining on 8ft waves, you go.
One of the greatest things about SUP surfing in Oregon is that you don't just pull up the the beach, park, hop over a dune or two and slide into the surf all in a matter of seconds. Don't get me wrong here, there are days when that is all I want to do. There are days when I just want it to be easy. But that is not what surfing here on the 'People's Coast" is all about. For 50 years the entire coastline of our state has been public domain, hence "People's Coast" moniker. What that fosters, is nature surfing. Just you, your paddle, your board, reconnecting with nature's rhythm. Not a single man-made structure in sight. What it also creates, unlike anywhere else on the planet, is a whole boatload of gritty surfers who know what it takes to get to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
SUP surfing in Cascadia is about weaving your way down a wooded path past massive fir trees that have stood their ground for hundreds of years, ever since this land was cared for by the Chinook people. SUP surfing here is about setting up your fire wood on the beach to spark once your session is over. It's about the arena of cliffs and trees that witness every line you carve and every drop you don't make. Our water here shines like a crystal, cool, Caribbean on Monday and thick like chocolate milk on a Tuesday. But what you get is a journey. You work for your reward. And what a sweet reward it is.
The years have gone by and many people have taken to the water on SUPs around the Rose City. What is it that makes a place conducive to an explosively popular activity like SUP? What are the features that a town needs to posses to be called a paddleboard destination?
Considering that the population in Portland, Oregon is growing every year by an increasing rate, it has been the top state in the Union that people move to for the past 3 years running. One of the main attracting factors that this city has is it’s proximity to natural, outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, and watersports. Its people are an eclectic mix of outdoor enthusiasts that are just as comfortable soaking wet on a February bike commute to work as they are on the many riverfronts during a July scorcher. Portlanders can always find a way to enjoy some time outdoors being active. Ours is a city defined by water, constrained by water, and given the green, vital lushness by water. Water runs past us constantly, water falls on our heads in the winter (though not as much as our reputation would have you believe), and water is always available for us to enjoy.
The Willamette River and Columbia Rivers and their tributaries are our lifeblood. They unite us as a city, East and West, running through our center, just as they unite together at their confluence just off North Portland’s Kelly Point Park.
And since local waters are never far away, its accessibility is perfectly conducive to growing the sport of Stand Up Paddlboarding. It may not get the attention that such other West Coast towns like Hood River, Santa Cruz, or San Diego get but Portland possess every bit the energy and opportunity to SUP to your heart’s content. On any given day you will see people out on race SUPs, Inflatable SUPs, or any SUP in between on most any local waterway.
I have been coaching SUP since 2009, just as the sport began to really explode globally. Growing up as a surfer and developing as an outdoor leadership professional out of college years ago has provided me the opportunity to take this new sport and run with it. Portland has been my canvas for sharing my love of SUP for nearly a decade. Stand Up Paddleboarding in Portland has been my vehicle for sharing the joy you can experience while cruising along the many rivers, lakes and coastlines that lie with an hour, or so, drive of our city.
For the casual paddler you want to ensure that you are getting out on quality durable gear that will keep you safe. Cascadia SUP is dedicated to providing the best possible Stand Up Paddleboards (www.imaginesurf.com), paddles and Personal Flotation Devices out there. Aside from the gear, it is essential that you start your SUP career with the proper instruction and draw on the years of coaching experience that local SUP coaches have to offer. Cascadia SUP is the only company in town that is 100 percent dedicated to the sport of SUP and providing the most professional skilled instruction you will find in the Rose City. Getting set up for an Intro to SUP or a Learn & Go with Cascadia SUP is a great first step to becoming more proficient and comfortable on your paddleboard. Most people don’t want to spend a bunch of money , right off the bat, to get into a new activity without feeling like they know what they are doing and how to do it safely. Learning the “rules of the road” and how to use your gear properly is extremely important and goes a very long way in contributing to you sticking with it and enjoying yourself more out there.
Another big component to this journey is gaining the local knowledge of where to launch your SUP that aligns with your current skill set. There are copious amounts of launches, riverfront parks, and public docks close to Portland and each one has it’s own benefits. Below you will find some basic information on local paddling access points:
The Willamette River is at the heart of our city. In years past it has gotten a bad reputation for having water cleanliness issues but thanks to the perennial efforts over the past several years of organizations like the Willamette Riverkeeper and the Human Access Project, this gem is getting it’s act cleaned up and has for years now been great place to paddle.
Along the Portland Metro area from Willamette Falls in Oregon City, to Lake Oswego and Milwaukie, all the way up to Kelly Point Park at the river’s confluence with the mighty Columbia, the SUP access points are as diverse as they are numerous. Each spot offers a different perspective and views of our local natural surroundings and urban character.
Just a few minutes drive South and/or Southwest of town you will find a fantastic little river called the Tualatin. Draining the Tualatin Valley for approximately 83 miles before it runs into the Willamette, the Tualatin River is a great place to find slow moving water to launch your SUP near Portland. Cook Park in Tigard is a very close drive to the Portland metro area and has all the amenities one could want to go for a paddle on flat water. The Tualatin Riverkeeper is an excellent resource for information about this vital tributary that just happens to be an excellent paddling spot.
This is one of the most historic and largest rivers in North America. Along the North side of town the best, most well developed SUP-friendly launches is Chinook Landing. With their recently updated docks, it is a useful access point to getting out on your SUP on the Columbia. Just to the West, or downstream, from the landing is Government Island, which is full of great beach stops on both it’s southern and northern shore. The Columbia can, at times, get windy and rough so please err on the side of caution and paddle with a partner.
As you can see, our home, Portland, Oregon has many active outdoor opportunities for the new paddler and the experienced SUP enthusiast alike. Come and explore these or any number of other spots on the water with your SUP.
Starting April 27th Cascadia SUP will launch its 2016 SUP Coaching, SUP Fitness, Cascadia SUP Tours and Rentals at various locations in the Portland Metro area. Cascadia SUP will even deliver SUPs to your door for the day, a service no other company offers. For more information and to sign up for one of these exciting programs, go to www.cascadiasup.com. Also, you can connect with all things Cascadia SUP, like news, updates, special events and custom programs by checking out:
Also, if you happen to have a challenging schedule but would really like to arrange a private coaching or PaddleFit session, private rental, or even a SUP party, give us a call at 971-808-2SUP (2787) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is always our goal to meet your needs for going Stand Up Paddleboarding in the Rose City.
Cascadia SUP provides Stand Up Paddleboard Coaching, Fitness, Tours and Rentals In Portland, OR