Rafting The Wilson River Near Tillamook Oregon

Posted: January 27, 2013 in Adventures, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By Cameron McKirdy

About the video: To film this trip I used the Panasonic Lumix TS4. It’s waterproof, and takes quality high definition video. In the past I’ve used GoPro Hero cameras to film sports, but the audio was poor. This Panasonic sounds better, and is rugged. The TS4 is even high visibility, with a safety orange color. I took nearly an hour of footage. This is the best 15 minutes. I still need to get a better wrist strap so my camera floats. I handled it well, but with all the passengers falling into me, it could have slipped into the blue. Speaking of, the water was remarkably blue. I haven’t altered this footage in any way. It’s beautiful country near Tillamook. It’s fun to film out there, and on water.

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Yesterday, a group of 30 people including myself, rafted the powerful Wilson River. I took these photos, and lots of HD video.

My Dad and I went on a paddle boat with three others from the Oregon Whitewater Association. I don’t have the gear the other boaters have. I’m more of a mountain man. They had dry suits, but I didn’t even use my wetsuit and booties. I wore hiking boots with waterproof socks, sweatpants with rain gear, and three layers for my upper body, plus a life vest, and a HooRag bandana. Going in, I knew I’d be cold. It’s rafting during the winter in Oregon. In the end, every rafter was freezing, and glad to be off the water. It was a long day. 14 river miles in 6 hours.

Our greatest challenge was getting people through a tiny 4.5 foot gap. My craft got stuck in between the two massive boulders pictured above, so we let air out of the sides and floor. Then we wiggled through. I filmed everyone making it. The group used ropes to pull one man’s cataraft over the rocks here on the upper Wilson. We all worked together, prepared for the worst, and got in position to help if needed. People were climbing mossy river rocks to signal, and help. They were ready. Also, everyone wore a helmet, and gloves, but me. I couldn’t film and wear gloves. The feeling in my toes and fingers did come back. I’m surprised.

It’s a real challenge to raft this time of the year. Everyone had to follow the plan. Safety was the name of the game. We had two people go into the drink. One guy wanted to swim, but our guide, the raft owner, got bumped out as we hit a rock wall. I look back, he’s floating there. Should I film this? Or pull him in before he gets crushed on some rocks? I put down the camera, and yanked him in with two others. We experienced Class 2, and 3 rapids. Whitewater for sure. I was soaked. We also cruised by a guy that snagged a huge steelhead. It must have weighed 9 pounds or more. When we finally got to land, I got a ride to snag our car back up river. Then it got dark. The group and I left my dad behind at the boat ramp. Problem is, I couldn’t find the damn thing. Dad’s soaked, it’s pouring. I was driving around, feeling like I left him for dead. I figured he’d wave me down on his walk back into Tillamook. There was no way to reach him. But suddenly, he text me from inside a fisherman’s truck. He was safe, and not angry that I made him wait. Then we got mexican food. Lots of it. In the end, the trip was hardcore, but worth it, and an amazing workout. It was another learning experience.

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Comments
  1. Sue bastiani says:

    I enjoyed this SO much! Thank you Cameron! I had no idea the Wilson river had rapids like that, and now because of you, I’ve seen something I never would have. Great job! I used to love the outdoors so much. When I was a kid, I would go into the forest and disappear until I got hungry. I knew it so well that somehow I always found my way back…usually by finding the railroad tracks that ran by our house. My mom watched over the Weyerhaeuser gate on Headquarters road up passed Longview, way up in the mts.

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