Author Topic: So this popped up from 14 years ago on Facebook  (Read 185 times)


  • Cortez Bank Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 25804
    • View Profile
So this popped up from 14 years ago on Facebook
« on: September 24, 2023, 07:11:19 PM »
If this doesn't make you want to downwind a SUP then I can't imagine what would. It made me crazy, and I wrote it. Of course, it was so long ago I normally wouldn't remember it, but this run is burned into my brain--I'll never forget it. A dangerous statement to make for a geezer facing inevitable decline, but I expect I'll remember this when I don't remember my name:

Holy Maliko what a great run I just had. Waist to shoulder high swells, 40 knot wind, warm air, cool water, and ten miles of constant swell surfing. But wait, this isn't Hawaii, it's Hood River!!

Diane offered to drop me off at Viento Park for a downwind run. I had hoped to hook up with Rod Parmenter, but after last evening's marathon paddle he committed to a mountain bike ride today. Rod and I tried to do a no-wind, downcurrent run from Rowena to Hood River. But when we got to Mosier (almost to Hood River) the wind picked up to honking and the last mile looked just too grim. So we turned around and ran back to Rowena and naturally the wind died a mile or so from Rowena, leaving us stroking tiredly against the current as the sun started setting. We made it just before it got dark.

I tried one other guy I've been swapping email with, but he's out of town. I had to hang out all morning until Gorgenet showed up to connect us to the web. With that done I gazed longingly at the blistering winds in the river until Diane decided to have mercy and be my shuttle driver. What a kid.

We got to Viento at 3:30 and I was in the water and paddling five minutes later. The wind was HOWLING and the swells in the normally flat section right off Viento were close to waist high. I started catching swell after swell, but as they got steeper my F18 started punching into more backsides and disappearing right up to my feet. Not to worry, the F18 stays straight when it does that, but it makes for a hairy ride. so I started steering radically every time I caught a swell. It worked like gangbusters. The speed was absolutely mind-boggling. My board was making that patty-pat-pat-patty sound of a windsurfer in full honk. Exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I started looking at the wimpy little coiled kiteboard leash that hooks me to the middle of the board. I learned this lesson long ago--hefty leash. I just didn't expect to need one on the Columbia. If I bailed and didn't catch the board that leash would part like a rotten sneaker lace.

My iPhone was playing "Runaway Train" over and over--somehow I stuck it in continuous play. I was irritated at first, but then I thought, how appropriate. rocking like a runaway train.

I thought "what the hell is going to happen when I hit swell city?" Twenty minutes later I found out when I hit swell city, or rather swell city hit me. "Holy fukowitz, those aren't swells, they're skateboard ramps". I hesitate to call the swells overhead in the presence of so many Hawaiians who would probably call them "tree feet". Instead I'd say they were six to eight feet--draw your own conclusions. All I know is that when I popped the nose over the top and pointed it down the swell it looked like I was headed for the river bottom like a lawn dart. In pure panic I gave it right full rudder, and the board zoomed to the bottom and slid sideways. "Holy shit, the wave is going to hit me" methinks, and I gave it left full rudder and roared up the back of the wave in front, over the top and down the other side. Right full rudder again, and I found a rhythm. Laughing like a lunatic, I slalomed through the moguls, going faster and faster until I thought I would surely blow a turn, hit the water and bounce.

I did about twenty turns in a row, then lost my balance and in the crazy acceleration tottered to the tail of the board--completely off the pad, holding onto the bare fiberglass with my toenails. I teetered there for literally minutes while the board was pointed straight down the face of a swell, rocketing along. Finally it slid to the bottom and leveled off, and I clawed my way back to the center. I thought "wow, if someone saw that from the side it probably looked like I knew what I was doing, instead of just barely being along for the ride." Sure enough, a windsurfer pulled up and said "holy crap, that was awesome. I have to get one of these". and then he said "wow, you're an old guy". I was way too flabbergasted by the wacko ride to respond, so I smiled lamely. Only later did I think I SHOULD have said "Oh, this is what we guys at the old folks home do when we burn out on pinochle".

I had little time to ponder all that because the wind was picking up. the tops of the swells were blowing off and the air was full of spindrift. The kite folks way up ahead off the sandbar disappeared. They might turn up somewhere in Idaho. Most of the windsurfers were gone as well, either saying their rosary and looking at the water or rigging a hankie sized sail so popular in the gorge on days like this. The few souls that remained on the water were touching down every fifty feet or so. I passed two windsurfers huddling in the water and slowed to check on them. They asked me when the wind was likely to drop. I suggested they roll up their stuff and float downwind to the hook. Hope they took my advice, they looked kind of scared.

A little cove I call the castle was coming up. I thought it might be cool to try to shoot the opening and take a break. It's a little slot in a rock wall, but I figured I could make it. When i went through the slot at mach 2 I realized what a chance I was taking. but it worked out. I got to change my iPhone to other music, shoot a few shots, and calm down. An hour of survival swell surfing was taking a toll. I watched a barge and tug coming up the river, smashing whitewater over the length of the barge. wild stuff.

When I hopped back on my board and pushed into the wind I raised my paddle to sail for a bit. I could barely hold it up as a sail. I was doing at least five knots just from wind on my body. I suspect the gusts might have hit 50. The swells were getting ripped to pieces by the wind. I rounded the tip of Wells Island and looked behind me to see a huge set of swells bearing down. I assume it was wake from the barge that was transformed by the wind into big face. They looked like reef waves--big, smooth faced, and feathering. I paddled into the first one and was off--I rode from the tip of wells island to well past the big log that juts out of the water midway down the island. An amazingly long ride. I didn't do any cutbacks with my F18, but I curved up and down the swell. wild ride. and when I dropped out the next one was right behind and ikt took me to the end of the island.

From there the ride was fairly uneventful, though when I went by the event center in the shallow water curving into the boat channel I caught a nice swell that carried me all the way through the mouth. While I was getting my stuff onto the truck a guy and two girls ran up to see what i was doing. they had been following me from the hook, and were completely blown away by the entire idea of riding a surfboard in the Columbia river. I could have sold them three board right then and there. They were literally overwhelmed--completely excited by the whole idea.

They should have seen it from My perspective.

Maliko is Maliko, but Hood River is a damn close second, with it's own unique set of challenges. I bet we're going to find some even better runs here. I can't wait.

« Last Edit: September 24, 2023, 07:15:16 PM by PonoBill »
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.


  • Cortez Bank Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 3201
    • View Profile
Re: So this popped up from 14 years ago on Facebook
« Reply #1 on: Today at 02:24:51 AM »
Great story and foreshadowing the coming foil mania.


SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2023, SimplePortal