Windsurfing, surfing, Maui, The Gorge, and random rants.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer is (finally) here

I started this post a few days back, and the story at that time was how we had endured three weeks of unusually cool and rainy weather here in the Gorge.  In fact we did not have a day above 80 until yesterday (6/12) which is the latest on record in PDX for such an event.  We also didn't have two consecutive rainless days that entire stretch.  And the wind sucked.  Meaning it didn't blow.  We only sailed two days since leaving Maui - not good.

But weather here in the NW is a decidedly Dr Jekyl Mr Hyde affair. Most rain falls in the winter and summer is almost entirely clear and dry.  Sometime during the spring to summer transition the pacific hose shuts off, usually by May, and from that point on rain from Hood River east to the deserts is very rare indeed.  This year it just took extra long for that to happen.  But now it seems the switch has been thrown.  Suddenly the forecast for as far can be seen is nothing but sun, sun, sun.  Plus wind.  Yeah!

We have a very energy and space efficient studio that we built on top of our garage (AKA adult toy chest) in downtown Hood River.  The space is small and cute but the views are huge.  Though we'd been missing that with all these cloudy days.  Finally last evening a clear sky and the late sun (it sets after 9PM this time of year) combined to light up Mt Adams in alpenglow. This is what we get to see most evenings.

Mt Adams is 12,281 ft (3,743.2 m) high and about 20 miles due north of us. BTW - the native name is Mt Klickitat and I wish we would all go back to that. The Adams name was a total mistake and a bad idea. Read the wiki entry. The good news is Mt Klickitat hasn't erupted in 10k years or so and chances are good it won't anytime soon (unlike St Helens).  So our view shouldn't change much.

Of course Klickitat isn't the only big mountain in the neighborhood.  About 20 miles south of us we have 11,249 Mt Hood which should also be called the native and much more poetic Wy'east.  The story of the Hood name is an explorer trying to gain favor by naming big mountains after his boss.  Admiral Hood never saw the mountain and didn't give a rats ass about it apparently.  Besides that he fought against americans in the independence war.  So why do we honor him?   But Wy'east is a way beautiful mountain.  We can't see it directly from our house, but a quick drive across the river shows it in all it's glory rising behind our town.

BTW - click on any of the photos to see an enlarged view. Now I mentioned that we have a small studio built on top of a large toy chest.  After I took the above photo I looked to see if I could find our place.  It's a bit difficult as we're surrounded by some much bigger houses and trees. Sort of like trying to find Waldo.

In the middle of this photo, just to the left of a brown ponderosa pine (which is actually several blocks away) you should see a tiny diamond shaped window surrounded by a cedar shingled gabled end of a roof with a large rectangular window below and a slider below that.  Look carefully.  Anyway, I'm looking out that little diamond window right now.  Hi!  Here's another perspective from the Washington side of the Columbia.

Wy'east looks really close to us from this angle (our pad is in the middle of the shot again) and in fact it takes only about 45 minutes to get to some good skiing (Mt Hood Meadows).  Finally two more shots of sisters Wy'east and Klickitat in all their late spring glory.  This is what we normally see all summer here.

Now back to the more usual stuff- windsurfing! We managed a couple days out at Dougs beach - the typical spring sailing spot.  Water temp is high 50's and we all still have our winter suits on.  A huge change from Maui board shorts.  On this particular day I was on a 4.0 and Julia a 3.4.  Again very typical gorge sailing.

Many of these pictures feature our friend Royn Bartholdi on his (new) Maui Sail throwing it down.  For those "NFAH" Royn organized the Gorge Freestyle Frenzy event (which I "participated" in) which was run in 2007 and 2008 .  Unfortunately events such as this are very time and money consuming (you have to get event insurance and pay for traffic cops, etc)  so we may not be seeing this again anytime soon.  But thanks for the all the hard work Royn!

An event that definitely will be run this year is the hotly anticipated Pistol River Wave Bash.  Julia and I will be headed down to the south Oregon coast in a couple of days for this.  And things are looking decent for the weather forecast down there. Every day should be sunny with a high in the 60's.  Way better then the weather we had been getting for much of the past month.  A glance at the no-pac shows a massive NP high in what looks like a good location.

There's also a trough sliding down east of the cascades through mid week. Not sure if that's good or bad.  And there's currently a SCA warning for strong N winds from Florence south.  Actually right now looks  pretty good conditions down there.  But so far Thursday (start of the contest) and Friday look promising.


I'll try to report on the event from down there.  I'm not sure if there's any wi-fi available.  I'm not even sure about cell phones.  The beauty of the Southern OR coast and the Cape Sebastian area is the remoteness of it all.  So who knows?  At any rate the caliber of the competition should be amazing.  Check out the riders so far.  Plus there are rumors that Robby Naish might show, Francisco Goya, and the list goes on.

I want to mention one competitor, Dana Miller the grand master of Pistol River, in particular.  I first met Dana so many years ago that it amazes me I'm still alive. It was during my first windsurfing trip from Boston down to Cape Hatteras while in the company of some fellow Cape Cod windsurfers. Must have been around 1988.  I had been sailing maybe a year or so. I had a used Fanatic UltraBee shortboard and an UltraCat course board. I could not do a planing jibe yet.  Any conditions less then 5.2 seemed like crazy wind to me.  We ended up at Waves, where there was a small windsurfing shop - Hatteras Island Surf Shop - surrounded by nothing.  It's still there but unfortunately its no longer surrounded by nothing (yes Waves is officially over developed like almost everything else on the east coast).

Dana worked at this humble shop and we sailed from the little beach there on what was at that point the windiest windsurfing day I had ever seen.  Dana had an old van with only window screens (no glass) for the side windows.  He sailed pure white Wind Wing sails because he liked the beauty it.  He was a true soul surfer & sailor before I knew what the term truly meant. On this particular day there was a spring cold front bearing down on the Hatteras sound, with the usual strong SW wind building in front of it.  It became too windy for me to sail and I sat on the beach to take pictures of Dana who stayed out in the 4.2 conditions (who could sail wind like that?).  To me he was already a windsurfing legend.

I know Dana spends most of his time now down at Pistol River.  He also has a nice little web site and e-zine.  In one of those interesting twists Dana and I are in the same class during this competition - the "grand masters". And it's highly likely that we will be sailing together during a heat.  I hope so just so I get a chance to see him sailing again.

In reality I don't care what place I end up in during this.  I want to sail my best.  I want everyone to sail their best. I want the judges to judge their best.  We're all going to end up somewhere and I hope we end up with smiles on our faces and stoke on the water.  And with respect and gratitude. Cheers!


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