The Introduction to Downwinding. Learning to Ride Waves.
Chasing the Wind.
The howls that fill the air. Bending the tree branches. Creating ocean like waves. And leaving watersports enthusiast in a state of sheer joy.
Building west of the Town of Hood River. And sometimes just East of Portland. Due to a weather pattern where warm temperatures and high pressures to the east of Hood River and Portland. Meet the cooler temperatures and low pressure system of the Pacific. Creating a furious yet steady wind.
The uniqueness of this place does not stop here. Wind is funneled down the rock lined banks of the Columbia River Gorge. But the river, flows the opposite direction.
On the water. This creates what people from across the globe seek out. Waves that resemble that of corduroy. Lines stretching from bank to bank. And something that wind enthusiasts have learned to harness and surf up river on a multitude of crafts. Varying in size due to the depth of the river and amount of flow that is being discharged from upriver. These freshwater waves rival that of their salt water counter part throughout many parts of the world.
Stand up paddling is a mellow and user friendly watersport. Leaving many wondering why we would seek out these rough waters to paddle. But after a bit of time and the right equipment. Those questions are quickly answered.
The idea of paddling up a wave filled river. Soon shifts to using the power of mother nature to surf up the river. And the sounds of paddlers doing just that fills the air.
Yeeeewwwwws and Yaaaaaas. Hoots and hollers.
The visuals reveal the same type of excitement. As paddlers surf from one wave to the next. Linking rides. Looking like that of an airport people mover and not someone paddling up a rushing river.
Learning to Ride Waves.
When we decide to learn anything new. There are always steps to take. We can not rush out onto the river our first time and expect to surf effortlessly up river and keep our hair dry.
It is best to slow it down and build into it.
My favorite way to learn to ride these freshwater waves is behind a boat. And this trip when the wind took a break we had a lot of time doing just this. With the man made wave replacing mother natures the conditions are a lot more enjoyable. And we still are able to get the feeling of gliding. Without being humbled too much.
Here is a quick video on surfing a boat wake on a raceboard. This is how I learned how to ride waves and downwind. And it continues to teach me new tricks that help in both fresh and salt water.