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Arts & Life

Paddlers To Take To The Willamette

Looking for a way to cool off during the steamy days of early August?

How about five days and four nights canoeing down a sedate 100-mile stretch of the Willamette River?

The Willamette Riverkeepers organization is getting ready to launch its 12th annual Paddle Oregon camping trip down the Willamette, starting in Harrisburg on Monday and ending in Newberg on Aug. 16.

The program is an all-inclusive experience for families and fun seekers looking to canoe, kayak or drift down the Willamette.

Registration costs $649 per person for adults and $549 for youth 17 and younger, and spots are still available.

The river advocacy group typically allows for 150 to 200 people. The price covers shuttling of camping and other equipment between landing points, three meals a day and entertainment throughout the trip. Boaters provide their own canoe or kayak, although they can be rented.

“The Willamette is a very approachable river for a wide range of paddlers,” said Travis Williams, executive director of Willamette Riverkeepers. “People can get out there and experience the river and learn about the nice, natural attribute that is close to so many people in the Willamette Valley.”

Experience is preferred, but not required.

The trip breaks down the group into “pods” for different types of experiences people are seeking, from the slowpokes in search of relaxation to those who want to race to the finish.

Each day, the campsites are packed up, loaded into a truck and hauled to the next checkpoint, ready for the paddlers to arrive, land and enjoy the summer evenings with catering, live music, a tour of Rogue Brewery’s hop farm, Chatoe Rogue, and wine tasting at Arcane Cellars — all right along the riverbank.

The trip even offers free yoga sessions each day, as well as an on-site massage therapist who will ease the aches from a long day of paddling.

Williams admits that the trip is on the cushy side of outdoor adventure. But those who have been introduced to paddling through this program have gone on to do their own trips, igniting their passion for kayaking or canoeing, he said.

According to Williams, Paddle Oregon was created after Willamette Riverkeepers decided to use the model established by Cycle Oregon, an annual multiday bicycling trip, but on the water.

After 12 years, the group’s mission remains to educate people about the river and give them a fun-filled five days.

“We’re able to talk about water quality and habitat restoration on our trips,” Williams said. “They come away five days later with a whole new prospective of the Willamette river,”

Although the trip is less than a week away, registration remains open to last-minute signups. Anyone looking to register is encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

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