|

May 19, 2016 / Comments (74)

The Great Flood: The Birth of a Sandbar, and a Wind-Riding Paradise

In the wee hours of November 7, 2006, Mother Nature threw a tantrum on Mount Hood.

A Pineapple Express walloped the early snowfall on the 11,250-foot peak causing the collapse of an ice dam on Elliott Glacier and sending a massive slurry of debris down the Middle Fork of the Hood River. Sediment, truck-sized boulders and uprooted trees careened down the river, which jumped its banks in spots and covered OR-35. By 7:30 a.m., the USGS water gage at the Tucker Bridge had spiked to nearly 19,000 cubic feet per second (CFS), compared to 300 CFS the day before. The river foamed and churned its way 25 miles down the mountain to deposit an estimated 1.5 million cubic yards of sand into the slow-flowing Columbia River.

Locals who were out that morning recall the earthy smell — like mushrooms, one remembered — and the roaring, chocolate brown river that boiled over the Mount Hood Railroad trestle and under the I-84 overpass to mount a huge standing wave at the confluence of the Hood and Columbia rivers.

When the water died down, people took stock of the damage. The Oregon Department of Transportation reported 2.5 miles of washed out highway and demolished bridges and culverts. PacifiCorp discovered extensive damage to its pipeline below Powerdale dam, which would ultimately lead to its early decommissioning. With the highway closed, mountain ski areas faced delayed openings and disappointed pass holders. And Port of Hood River officials looked out their windows onto a massive pile of trees, root balls and boulders flung into the middle of the Columbia River onto a delta, or sandbar, that had grown by 26 acres.

“It blocked off the (Nichols) Boat Basin and looked like it would block access to the marina and the shipping channel,” said Michael McElwee, executive director of the Port of Hood River, who had then been on the job for just four months. “I still marvel at how much debris there was.”

Elsewhere in Hood River, a small but enthusiastic crowd was celebrating — local kiteboarders, who were the first to realize that the destructive flood event could be a boon to the Hood River waterfront. “I was one of many kiters who woke up with great excitement to see that massive change down there,” said Adam Lapierre, vice president of the Columbia Gorge Kiteboarding Association (CGKA).

Where others saw a giant mess, kiteboarders saw a kite beach. All that soft sediment that had poured into the river protruded above the waterline, filling in a sandbar that had been submerged there since at least the 1930s, according to historic photos. It didn’t ultimately block the shipping channel or the marina. But it morphed what had been a small, sketchy kiting area into a wide expanse of sand that would change the Hood River kiteboarding scene completely.

“Nobody thought it would be usable,” McElwee said. “After about two years it became one of the best kiteboarding venues on the West Coast.”

To understand why the Hood River sandbar had such a big impact on kiteboarding, one needs to understand the gear. Kiteboarding lines — 24 meters long — must be laid out carefully and evenly before launching. Kites need at least that much space to land. And the inflatable kites themselves are wide — typically 5 to 14 square meters.

With its powerful west-to-east winds and lively wave action in the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River has been a windsurfing center since the 1980s. Kiteboarding arrived more recently, starting in about 2000, but the Hood River waterfront was dominated by a grassy lawn renovated in the 1980s for windsurfing, and kiting was not allowed there. To the east was the Hood River marina and swim beach. Between the two was “the spit,” a skinny arm of sand on the east side of a decommissioned boat basin that disappeared frequently with fluctuating river levels. This was Hood River’s only sanctioned kite launch.

From here, a handful of locals kited and a couple of courageous schools operated. But the sport was very new, only about six years old, with gear that was difficult to use and unsafe compared to what would soon follow. Add to that a cramped launch area with fluky wind and submerged debris, and you had a kiteboarding spot that only the most competent could manage.

Lapierre, who also works at Slingshot Sports, a kiteboarding manufacturer based in the Gorge, maintains that the sandbar came at just the right moment. The serendipitous timing of the flood with improvements in gear and the birth of social media — the perfect medium for promoting the sport — gave kiting just the boost it needed.

“Because of the momentum it already had, kiting exploded in Hood River following the formation of the sandbar,” he said.

All of the photos accompanying this article were shot by Grant Myrdal at or near the sandbar.

A Multi-use Playground

A decade after the flood, the Hood River sandbar has become a destination for kiteboarders from around the world. While neither the Port nor CGKA tracks the numbers of kiteboarders using the sandbar during the season, people agree that use has grown exponentially since 2006, and it is not unusual to see 200 kites out on the water on a busy summer day, when winds exceed 20 miles per hour on 75 percent of days. The additional space created by the Sandbar allows for the operation of five kiteboarding schools, and kiteboarders now split the event site lawn with windsurfers. During the summer, kiters can pump up their kites on the event site grass before wading across a narrow channel to the wide, sandy expanse to rig and launch.

“It is a heck of a lot safer. There is more room and people who are learning how to kite are a lot more comfortable out there,” said Liz Whitmore, waterfront coordinator for the Port of Hood River.

Off-season, when high-water levels submerge the sandbar, kiters are allowed to launch and land from the event site grass. The cutoff date for that activity is determined by representatives from CGKA, the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association and the Port, who work together to make sure conditions are safe for everyone.

The community also collaborates for an annual spring cleanup, spearheaded by CGKA but drawing varied participants. The first cleanup was initiated in the spring of 2007 as CGKA recognized that something had to be done to reduce hazards to kiters, who could easily be injured by the trunks, rocks and stumps that remained strewn about on the sand. Winter floods leave a certain amount of debris on the delta each year, and many pitch in on the cleanup because as the years have passed, the waterfront area has become beloved to many people.

“You have so many activities going on there right now — kiteboarding, windsurfing, standup paddle boarding,” said Whitmore. “There is a new surf break, so you have kids playing in the waves and now you have hydro foiling.”

McElwee sees that diversity of use too, right from his office window.

“I look right at the sandbar and I’m amazed at the amount of use that occurs throughout the year. It’s really an extraordinarily well-used multi-use place and it changes all the time. It’s always a big surprise what you are going to find out there.”

On a recent spring day, a stroll along the sandbar reveals this varied use. Dogs race along the eastern edge, where rails and jumps jut above the water in what is the only public kiting terrain park in the U.S. The wind picks up and a scrum of middle school aged kids takes turns piloting trainer kite through the gusts and lulls. On the western edge, kiteboarders launch and head upriver toward the White Salmon Bridge. Others land, and come in to call it a day, heading to the parking lot to hang out and drink a beer. A 30-something couple in wetsuits waddles behind their instructor, geared up and nervous as they head to the far end of the sandbar, which is empty of people.
The high water this day has created small islands out of the sandbar, so one has to wade across small cold water channels to reach the northern edge. It’s a reminder that the sandbar continues to morph and change, buffeted by the wind, the waves and the current. From the south, the Hood River flows into the Columbia, serene and clear in the spring sunshine with no trace of the mayhem of 2006. And upriver, Mount Hood, still snow covered in May, isn’t hinting at what might come next.

{igallery id=1351|cid=75|pid=2|type=category|children=0|addlinks=0|tags=|limit=0}

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River, Oregon. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere.

Last modified: May 19, 2016

74 Responses to :
The Great Flood: The Birth of a Sandbar, and a Wind-Riding Paradise

  1. What’s up, just wanted to say, I liked this post. It was funny.
    Keep on posting!

    Feel free to surf to my web blog :: skilled drug crime

  2. omega 3 says:

    Aw, this was a really nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to generate a really good article?
    but what can I say? I put things off a whole lot and never manage to get anything
    done.

    My web blog; omega 3

  3. omega 3 says:

    Great post, I conceive website owners should learn a lot from this web
    blog its really user friendly. So much great information on here :
    D.

    Also visit my webpage – omega 3

  4. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.

    I’ve joined your feed and stay up for searching for extra of your wonderful post.
    Additionally, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

    my web-site; eczema on feet

  5. That is a very good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.

    Short but very precise info? Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read post!

    Review my web site – Ultra Quick Keto Burn

  6. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a
    little research about this. We got a grab a book
    from our area library but I think I learned more from this post.
    I’m very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.

    Also visit my web site ketogenic diet

  7. Yes! Finally someone writes about 100% pure skin care regiment care.

  8. Hello to all, how is the whole thing, I think every
    one is getting more from this web site, and your views are pleasant in favor of
    new people.

    My web-site … Cut Slim Keto

  9. I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing issues with your site.
    It appears as if some of the written text within your content are running off the screen.
    Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening
    to them too? This could be a problem with my browser
    because I’ve had this happen before. Many thanks

    my web page … Cool Wave Portable Air Conditioner

  10. Dead indited subject matter, Really enjoyed studying.

    Also visit my web-site … Level Goods CBD Gummies

  11. I savour, cause I discovered exactly what I used to be
    having a look for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

    Feel free to surf to my page; Ignite CBD Oil

  12. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your
    site, how could i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided
    bright clear idea

  13. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and
    wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss
    feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    Here is my blog post Reneaux Face Serum

  14. My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he’s tryiong none the
    less. I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites for about a year and am
    nervous about switching to another platform. I
    have heard great things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content into it?

    Any help would be really appreciated!

    Also visit my web-site … http://163.30.42.16/

  15. This piece of writing will assist the internet people for building up new webpage or even a blog from start to end.

    Here is my web page :: bibliodigital.escoladocaminho.com

  16. bitly.com says:

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant
    for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer
    to create your theme? Exceptional work!

  17. Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the issues.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

    My blog post; http://duna-anapa.net.ru/modules.php?name=Your_Account&op=userinfo&username=BrittonPhillis

  18. What’s up everybody, here every person is sharing these kinds of knowledge, therefore it’s good to read this webpage, and I used to visit this weblog everyday.

    Here is my web page Glacier Air Cooler Review

  19. bitly.com says:

    Hi there, I enjoy reading through your article.
    I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

  20. j.mp says:

    Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips
    on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I
    never seem to get there! Thank you

  21. I’ll right away grasp your rss feed as I can not to find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.

    Do you’ve any? Kindly permit me know in order that I may subscribe.
    Thanks.

    my web site – Rapid Fire Keto Pills

  22. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on. Cheers

  23. Hempizor CBD says:

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching
    for cannabis doctors

    my web blog Hempizor CBD

  24. Valentina says:

    Great blog you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours these days.
    I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  25. xnxx says:

    Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
    I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  26. xnxx says:

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the most useful websites online.
    I will recommend this site!

  27. Some really nice and utilitarian info on this site, besides I
    think the style and design has got superb features.

    my web-site … Arctic Box Air Conditioner

  28. Amazing! Its genuinely awesome paragraph, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from this post.

    Also visit my web-site: Far East XL Reviews

  29. Right here is the perfect webpage for anyone who wishes to find out about this topic.
    You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that has been written about for a long time.
    Wonderful stuff, just great!

    Have a look at my page – virtualchurchcamp.com

  30. hello there and thank you for your info ? I?ve definitely picked up anything new from
    right here. I did however expertise a few technical points using this web site, as I experienced to reload the
    web site lots of times previous to I could get it to load correctly.
    I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will
    sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and
    could look out for a lot more of your respective
    fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

    Look at my web blog Erorectin Review

  31. Hello there, I discovered your web site via Google whilst looking for a comparable topic, your website came up, it appears great.
    I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.[X-N-E-W-L-I-N-S-P-I-N-X]Hi there, just was aware of your
    blog thru Google, and found that it’s truly informative.
    I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate in the event you proceed this in future.
    Lots of other people will probably be benefited out of your writing.
    Cheers!

    My homepage – http://www.fscrystal.net

  32. If you are going for most excellent contents like myself,
    simply go to see this web page every day for the reason that it offers quality contents, thanks

    My webpage; Modern Belle Skin Care

  33. xnxx says:

    Excellent post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte
    more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could
    elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!

  34. I am in fact thankful to the owner of this web page who has
    shared this impressive post at at this time.

    Here is my site; Gold Leaf CBD Reviews

  35. When I initially commented I appear to have clicked
    on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from
    now on each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with
    the exact same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me from that service?
    Cheers!

    Here is my homepage :: ACV Rx Ingredients

  36. After I initially commented I appear to have clicked
    the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added
    I recieve four emails with the same comment. Is there an easy method you can remove me from that service?
    Appreciate it!

    My site: Forti Prime Review

  37. Bio Keto says:

    Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no data backup.
    Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

    Also visit my web blog :: Bio Keto

  38. Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to come back once again since I saved as a favorite
    it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue
    to guide other people.

    Here is my page … Libido Boost Male Enhancement Pills

  39. I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This article posted at this web page is really nice.

    Review my web site; Virectin Loaded

  40. I like this blog so much, saved to my bookmarks.

    Stop by my site … Pure Remedy CBD Review

  41. WifiLift says:

    A person necessarily help to make severely posts I might state.
    That is the first time I frequented your web page and so far?
    I surprised with the analysis you made to create this particular put up
    incredible. Great process!

    My website; WifiLift

  42. vntong.com says:

    Precisely what I was looking for, thanks for putting up.

    Feel free to surf to my blog … vntong.com

  43. Krystle says:

    Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve take into account your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely fantastic.

    I actually like what you have got here, certainly like what
    you are stating and the way in which during which you assert it.

    You’re making it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it
    wise. I can not wait to read far more from you.
    That is actually a great site.

  44. Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I
    stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to come back once again since i have bookmarked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to
    help other people.

    Also visit my webpage … Libido Boost Male Enhancement Review

  45. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this fantastic blog!
    I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding
    your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this
    website with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

    my blog post Spore Mens Vitality Mix Side Effects

  46. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a
    blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt,
    you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that too few folks are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy I came across this in my search for something relating to this.

    Take a look at my homepage … countrysidetravels.com

  47. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will eventually
    come back at some point. I want to encourage continue your
    great writing, have a nice holiday weekend!

    Feel free to visit my web site Royal Derma Cream Reviews

  48. Whats up are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my
    own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    My site Vigalix Ingredients

  49. For newest news you have to go to see web and on web I found this web site as a
    best site for most up-to-date updates.

    my page gonullerderyasi.com

  50. I cling on to listening to the newscast speak about receiving free online
    grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one.
    Could you tell me please, where could i find some?

    Look at my web blog Oracle Leaf CBD

  51. Thanks for this post, I am a big fan of this internet site would
    like to proceed updated.

    my site – Virectin Loaded Reviews

  52. Thank you a lot for sharing this with all folks you actually know what you’re talking approximately!
    Bookmarked. Kindly additionally talk over with my site =).

    We can have a link exchange arrangement among us!

    Review my blog: Keto Fat Burn Review

  53. xnxx says:

    If some one wants to be updated with newest technologies after that he must be pay a visit this site and be up to date all the
    time.

  54. Slim X Keto says:

    Ahaa, its pleasant dialogue regarding this piece of writing here at this
    webpage, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

    Here is my blog Slim X Keto

  55. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed
    surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will
    be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    Also visit my web-site http://shihan.com.ru/

  56. xbet login says:

    Just wish to say your article is as amazing.

    The clearness for your publish is just spectacular and i could suppose you’re a professional in this subject.

    Well together with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with
    forthcoming post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please keep up the gratifying work.

  57. ibbs.uu.cc says:

    Great blog right here! Additionally your web site rather
    a lot up very fast! What web host are you using?
    Can I get your associate link to your host? I wish
    my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol.

    my blog … ibbs.uu.cc

  58. Awesome things here. I’m very glad to peer your post. Thanks so much
    and I’m looking forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

    Stop by my homepage: NatureFused Anti Aging Cream

  59. Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing
    months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any
    solutions to stop hackers?

    Here is my webpage … Ultra Cut Keto Review

  60. xbet payout says:

    I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet
    viewers, its really really nice post on building up new weblog.

  61. I am impressed with this web site, real I am
    a fan.

    my website http://www.comptine.biz

  62. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website so i got here to ?go back the
    prefer?.I’m trying to find issues to improve my web site!I assume its
    adequate to make use of a few of your ideas!!

    my homepage Syner Sooth CBD Review

  63. 2xex.com says:

    I conceive this web site has got very excellent indited content articles.

    my webpage: 2xex.com

  64. Gretta says:

    I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very
    easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire
    out a designer to create your theme? Great work!

  65. wonderful issues altogether, you just gained a logo
    new reader. What might you suggest in regards to your put up that you made a few days ago?
    Any certain?

    Also visit my homepage – Green Flame CBD Gummies Review

  66. What i do not understood is in truth how you’re now not actually
    much more well-favored than you may be right now.
    You are very intelligent. You know thus significantly in relation to this subject, produced me individually believe it from
    so many various angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated
    except it’s one thing to do with Lady gaga!

    Your individual stuffs great. Always care for it up!

    Also visit my blog: Evo Naturals Hemp Gummy Bears Reviews

  67. For most up-to-date news you have to visit world-wide-web
    and on the web I found this web site as a most excellent website for most recent updates.

    Here is my blog: VigorMax Male Enhancement Review

  68. x bet says:

    Hi! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for your excellent information you’ve got right here on this post.
    I will be returning to your site for more soon.

  69. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post.
    Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

    Also visit my blog post: Forti Prime Side Effects

  70. Perfect piece of work you have done, this web site is really cool with excellent info.

    my blog Green Earth CBD Review

  71. Lavina says:

    Hey terrific website! Does running a blog similar to this require a lot of work?

    I have absolutely no knowledge of coding however I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future.
    Anyhow, should you have any ideas or tips for new blog owners please share.

    I know this is off topic but I just had to ask.
    Thanks a lot!

  72. Nigel says:

    Can you tell us more about this? I’d want to find out
    more details.

  73. Matilda says:

    Great delivery. Great arguments. Keep up the great work.

  74. Leola says:

    I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great info I was looking for this info for
    my mission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.