CRK’s April Newsletter will feature Smooth & Easy Saturday Mini Tours perfect for beginners or anyone who just wants to spend a few hours out on the water having fun, enjoying nature and wildlife. Trip Leader, Carson Thomas, tells us more below about her experience kayaking, love of the outdoors, and connecting with others in nature. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to the area.    

My educational background is in environmental science and anthropology. I learned how to kayak as a student in Maryland where I spent a semester intensively traveling on the water, sometimes by bus, and camping in Chesapeake Bay interviewing watermen (independent fishermen) and rangers, and studying estuaries across 11,000 miles of coastline. I felt truly in touch with the world around me. I enjoy learning about human-environmental relationships in place-based contexts. After college, I spent a year in Israel-Palestine at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies before coming to Cathlamet about 8 months ago to work on a project as a surveyor for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. After the project ended, I began teaching for an outdoor school based just outside of Vernonia, OR, in the northern Coast Range Mountains.

How long have you been touring with CRK?

This is my first season with CRK. I think the work CRK does in guiding public tours is very meaningful. In addition to the Smooth & Easy Saturday Mini Tours, I’ll be leading tours to Price Island and others as part of several Road Scholar Programs during the summer months.  So far I have gone out on several paddles with Wren, Kyleen and Andrew, and successfully completed safety and rescue training. I am actively learning about the tour routes, history, geology, people and wildlife along the lower Columbia River to prepare for the season. I am particularly excited to familiarize myself with the plantlife. 

Do you have any favorite spots yet on the lower Columbia River?

As a newcomer I’m getting to experience this beautiful place for the first time and taking it all in. So far, a favorite place for me is visiting the ancient spruce trees in the Wildlife Refuge. It’s amazing to see these demure and scrabbly-looking trees up close and realize they withstood the Cascadia earthquake. 

Tell us more about the tours you are leading in this summer.

The Saturday Mini Tours make it easy to get on the water. We explore the river in double kayaks on gentle waters so it’s a very comfortable trip. Plus you can hop out of the boat and still have your whole day in front of you. The CRK Crew loves taking larger groups out so we offer a discount if your party is 8 or more.  The Price Island Tour is great for beginners. It’s a half-day into protected waters in the Julia Butler Hansen Wildlife Refuge where you get to see the ancient spruce trees I mentioned earlier as well as a lot of birds and other wildlife. It’s peaceful and beautiful. 

Any words of advice or wisdom for people who are new to kayaking? 

I don’t think of kayaking as a sport in terms of high performance. Kayaking is a different lens to see the natural world which I have found to be a calming and worthwhile experience. It’s hard to find quiet places to enjoy where you can relax and take your time.