CRK’s January Newsletter featured the Cliffs of Cathlamet and Three Tree Point Tours. CRK Guide, Wren Hendriks, tells us more about her experience kayaking on the lower Columbia River and why she chose to lead these upcoming tours.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve kayaked for many years beginning as a child. I’m from Los Angeles and moved to Humboldt in my early 20’s. I fell in love with paddling the rivers and lakes in the Redwood Forest. In 2015, I bought my first sailboat and anchored in Portland. I used to kayak to and from my sailboat to get to work. I was out sailing one day looking for a place to anchor between Astoria and Rainier, OR, and stumbled upon the Elochoman Marina in Cathlamet. I went for a walk and was completely charmed by the town and people and decided to stay. Not long after, I got an opportunity to work at the local brewery, River Mile 38, and later was recruited to work at CRK as a guide. I still love to go sailing but the last few years have all been about kayaking, and now I get to do it as a job which is great. I love taking new people out on the water, especially anyone who never thought they would be in a kayak because it’s such a wonderful experience to be carried by the river. You get to traverse a new zone. It’s a new dimension you get to explore.
How long have you been touring with CRK?
Last season was my first season with CRK. Kyleen has been my mentor in learning how to lead fun and engaging tours. She’s also been a mentor to me in music. I remember when we first met, her dog ran out first to greet me and I learned that his name is Gaston. I immediately had to start singing the song “Gaston” from the musical Beauty and the Beast. It turned out we both have a background in musical theater and even played some of the same characters like Fantine in Les Miserables. We got to know eachother better by kayaking and I was invited to join the band (Skamokawa Swamp Opera).
What’s your favorite part about guiding tours in the lower Columbia River?
We go out on the river a lot and it can be easy to take the beauty for granted at times. Every time I take somebody new out on the river I get to see it for the first time through their eyes. Even when it’s windy and rainy, new paddlers are always so excited to be out there and we have a great time, and I’m reminded of how special a place I live in.
Tell us more about the tours you are leading in 2023.
The Cliffs of Cathlamet Tour has four waterfalls all in a row you can kayak under, basalt cliffs, and a fossil of an ancient tree. You can find rose quartz and many wildflowers that only grow in this special basalt cliff environment. There are millions of succulents on the cliffs as well. Last year a peregrine falcon, the fastest bird on the planet, chose to make a nest under one of the waterfalls, so we got to see them every time we paddled out. It was amazing.
The Three Tree Point Tour is really fun because it goes through the shipping channel. The ships are massive and you get to see up close how truly magnificent they are, plus you can ride on their wakes. You can also see all the way to the ocean from the channel. There are brooks of running water that are really beautiful, interesting rocks and often items from the past will wash up in the area because of eddies, like pieces of pottery, arrowheads or railroad spikes from older times.
What is special about springtime on the lower Columbia River?
The advantage of springtime is that you get to see the most wildlife when it’s raining, like otters, deer, raccoons, etc. Animals love the rain and come out much more in the cloudy season. Also the rainbows can happen several times a day which is really beautiful on the water. CRK has top notch gear so you don’t have to worry about getting wet and cold. The right gear will keep you comfortable.
Any words of advice or wisdom for people who are new to kayaking?
I like to tell people that the river will carry them and to be gentle and go with the flow. My philosophy on the water comes from the Chinese concept of wu wei, which means not to force things. In fact, Wu Wei is the name of my sailboat. My favorite part about kayaking is the feeling I get of being held by the water which feels very safe. Another way to think of it is like riding a horse – you adjust your movement and hips to match the horse’s body; kayaking is very similar only you’re adjusting to the water.