Skamokawa Center in the snow

What a year it’s been, and what a month December has been!

Notable events for December include the bankruptcy and closure of Skamokawa Center, where much of our kayaking work was based, and where I have worked managing the paddle center for five years. In fact, five years is the longest I’ve ever worked for the same organization. Columbia River Kayaking, the LLC that the guides formed in 2007, is now scrambling to find ways to replace that income and hopefully keep some of our programming going in some other form.

the end of the back porch

All that snow that we were playing in back on December 20th? Well, an awful lot of it is still here. In fact, it snowed almost continually through Christmas Day, which resulted in our back porch roof collapsing under the weight of about 20 inches of snow on Christmas morning. The light-duty, almost flat roof was never intended to hold up that kind of weight. On Christmas eve, it had started to thaw and rain a little, but during the night it switched back to heavy snow. I did manage to save the front porch roof by climbing up a ladder with a snow shovel and clearing it off. Thankfully, the Subaru wagon did remarkably well in this weather. With it’s all wheel drive and studded snow tires, I was never unable to go where I needed to go. The only place I got stuck was in my own driveway, trying to break out of the deep snow that had accumulated the night before.

snow machine

My driveway is finally clear down to the pavement though, even though the rest of the land is still covered. I hiked up to the back of the land this afternoon and was still finding snow deep enough to go over the tops of my rubber boots. The heavy snow did a lot of damage to the fruit trees and shrubbery near the house, and I wanted to see how the forest had fared. There wasn’t a lot of damage up there, mostly small hemlock and spruce trees bent over and some breakage in the wild cherry and alder. My Port Orford Cedars and Redwoods will need to be dug out of the snow and propped back up again, though. I’m hoping I can save them.

There were elk tracks everywhere, and evidence of them resorting to eating the usnea lichen off of the trees wherever they could get to it. I’m sure they will be glad when this snow finally thaws away. At least one of the feral bunnies is still alive though, having holed up in the empty barn and successfully foraged under the trees.

snowy trees


Yesterday was the annual Christmas Bird Count. I was feeling a little under the weather and didn’t go out for a full day, but went out for three hours, and paddling about eight miles. There were a lot of duck hunters blasting away in one of the most likely sloughs, so I avoided that one. And there was a cold east wind blowing, too, so most of the little perching birds stayed low and out of sight. But I still managed to get 19 species, mostly waterfowl and a few raptors, and I hauled a pile of trash out of the tidal area of Welch Island. These bald eagles let me paddle right up underneath them.

Well, that’s that for 2008, there’s only a few hours left now. Here’s hoping for positive change, health and prosperity in 2009!

high tide on Welsh Island


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