The Tualatin River meets the Willamette with a washboard ripple between tree-lined shores, like a naughty little brother firing spitballs. The lesser sibling makes up for his lack of formidability with a tenacious furrow, a stonewalling of sorts, that eventually succumbs to the head lock of big brother wrestling him north.
A short paddle upriver from the confluence of the Tualatin the largess of the Willamette was partitioned during the Ice Age and dotted with building-size rock formations some distance from the shore. Unlike the strong current of the main flow “The Narrows” are protected and peaceful canals lined with boulders and rocky piles, the entrance of some barely large enough to fit a kayak. Quiet chamber respites offer still space to fully wake, grateful for the hopeful buzzing of the bee.
A couple of miles downriver between West Linn and Oregon City lies the horseshoe-shaped basalt shelf of Willamette Falls. Seen only from a distance, the commanding waters spill over the 40 foot tall, 1500 foot wide flow in volumes. The native fishermen thought the treacherous waterfall was a gift from the Gods. Only the natives and millworkers who once sweated over grinders under the mezzanine and ate their lunch in Building A know the full power of the gush.
Below Oregon City and West Linn, on the way to the confluence of the Columbia, Goat Island creates a quiet channel swimming distance from the water’s edge. The neighbors and visitors to the city park that line the shore appreciate herons coming and going from their rookery, the cacophony of distant squawks and the occasional otter gliding in the passage.