Sounds of Indian drumming and chants merge with lapping riverwater as a kayak drifts through delicate green filigreed forests and crystal clear water. Herons swoop low over water and beach, paddlers drum on congas, an expert kayaker gracefully turns his craft and blue skies warm the Willamette River Valley.
Gourmet strawberry spinach salad, buttered corn on the cob, fresh salmon, delicate desserts, and award-winning wines reward a full day of paddling down the Willamette River just south of Portland, Ore.. A slide show, comedy or live music beside a giant bonfire compliment each evening’s red-purple sunset.
A tent city for about 150 paddlers colorfully dots a riverside park and later a family farm as the travelers camp each night on their voyage down river. A rainbow of colored kayaks and canoes decorates pebbled riverbanks.
For ten years in a row the Willamette Riverkeeper, based in Portland, Ore., has sponsored an annual week-long, fully catered, 100-mile August paddle down the Willamette River. The goal is to enjoy, appreciate and take care of this beautiful natural resource.
Paddle Oregon is also about education and preservation. This year both Jack Johnson and Alexandra Cousteau joined in supporting the Willamette Riverkeeper as the availability and quality of riverwater have become increasingly threatened. As one speaker says, “The river and all the life around it depend on the river’s health.”
As noted in Willamette Riverkeeper literature, their mission is to protect and restore the Willamette River promoting the belief that good water quality and an abundant natural habitat is a basic public right. Through habitat restoration projects, water quality monitoring, political advocacy and compliance with the Clean Water Act, the Willamette Riverkeeper has grown as one of the most respected and active environmental organizations in Oregon.
After messages from Riverkeeper Executive Director, Travis Williams, and Outreach Director, Kate Ross, the “Paddle Oregon 2010” film features the opening ceremony of the journey. Paddlers form a circle as an Indian group sings of respect and appreciation for the river, and then welcomes them on their 5-day voyage through ancient sacred territory.
Liz Vice, the filmmaker, has combined information on the Willamette Riverkeeper with a showcase of their tenth annual trip down the Willamette River. Smiling faces, good exercise, fabulous food and clean living are all packed into this 14-minute short of an inspiring Northwest experience.
The Willamette Riverkeeper: www.willamette-riverkeeper.org/WRK/staff.html
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Follow Bev Questad on Twitter at http://twitter.com/questad.