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The Pig Rides Again

The Pig Rides Again

March was a bad month for rain on the Lower Columbia River (OR, USA), and we had the wettest paddletrip in memory to one of our favorite islands: Dead Wild Pig. The Pig is set near the shipping channel a couple dozen miles upriver from home, and approachable via two miles of diked channel and only a mile or so of exposed open stuff, so it is an easy overnighter. Perfect for our friends Michael and Jennifer, the latter new to this paddling game.

Saturday morning was a calm and mellow time in the garage, filled with the miseries and triumphs of packing: where is that small dry bag? … hey, man! your mongo sleeping bag actually goes inside this one! … fit the footpegs, pad the butts … all compounded by having only been in this house for three weeks. Main casualty: forgot the Crazy Creek chairs!

J and M dawdled and splashed in the channel, with Jennifer on that high a new paddler feels as her graceful strokes pull her through the water and the bank slides by. We gave her the slow and bulbous Spectrum, a dog boat, but comfy in the saddle, easy to turn, and stable as all hell.

An hour and a half later, we hit the Pig, chomping down lunch (who bought FAT FREE cream cheese! Yuck!) and lazily erecting tents, spreading gear before the two dozen goslings offshore, some astride momma’s back. The new paddlers and the old one escaped up-island for an exploration, but Becky tended camp and read. The up-islanders returned an hour later, chased by the sprinkles and high wind of an incipient high-level front. It never amounted to much, but looked ominous (memories of March). Becky had the tarp up, anyway. Birds all over, an inspiration to Michael, who envisioned a “Birds of Dead Wild Pig” guidebook, and later a “Plants of Dead Wild Pig” key, topped off by the “Dead Wild Pig Cookbook.” That guy has tooo many ideas …

More freighters than ever before, in memory, graced the channel, to M and J’s delight, the channel at the doorstep of their tent, on a mini-bluff of dredge spoils. Wakes grinding across the flats and slopping at the spoil foundation.

Gorged on dinner (skewered shrimp grilled over an open fire), Becky and I slept warmly in a new double bag, with zippers **on the sides** — midnight pee breaks no longer wake the partner.

Morning dawned warm and calm, developing into a truly HOT day, enough to demand dipping into the 55 degree water. M and J gunkholed the WA shore, shepherded by the old guy. Our only error was slipping the Jen into our “light, fast” boat, to which she adhered the rest of the day — no more bulbous and slow stuff for her!

Returning up the channel, we had waterfights and tossed the rubber duck, kids enjoying the first day of summer in Oregon.

Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR

Copyright 2000 by Dave Kruger.
May not be reproduced or redistributed without author’s permission.
Originally posted on Paddlewise mailing list on 5/15/2000. Republished with permission.