First Time at a Whitewater Festival

We were pretty excited when we learned the Upper Clackamas White Water Festival would be held in the area we were working.  I have had the opportunity to go white water rafting twice (read about one fun trip here), but I have never seen a festival.  From what we were hearing some really amazing athletes would be participating in the event, plus it would be tons of fun to watch.  Although we were working both days (Lee covered the river sites and I helped in the information booth on Saturday) we did have some time to take some pictures.  Not only is watching the festival a blast, taking pictures was really fun and challenging so I wanted to share some of of our favorites here.  Lee took most of the river and festival shots, but I got some good ones of the paddleboard events, which were my favorite.  I hope you enjoy them.

The main even area was pretty low key with a raffle for products


And several vendors who specialized in rafting equipment


The one food truck was reasonably priced and there were plenty of restrooms which I did not need to clean 🙂


Put in’s for events were all along the river and one of the favorite sites was Sandstone Bridge which was officially opened over the weekend and was a big hit with the boaters


Lee got to see how the new boat ramps worked



Many people were just running the river for fun that day and it was cool how the event schedulers worked personal recreation traffic in the more formal events. Not quite sure how they managed that but it obviously worked and showed what a tight knit community it is. In between heats they also allowed people to do practice runs or just takes runs with their families through the race area which was also really cool and not something I think I have ever seen in any other sporting event.  Most events happened at one set of rapids near Carter Bridge and people sat on rocks or down near the river and they closed off one half of the bridge so you could stand there and watch as well.  We liked the bridge spot for the best views and most of our pictures were taken from there.

There were 7 gates and the poles that hung down could be moved with a pulley system. Part of the challenge for the rafters was not missing any of the gates.


They had safety boats in the water at all times and occasionally someone wiped out, couldn’t recover, and needed a lift



Several women participated

This run in particular was really good and her upper body strength was impressive.


This was impressive.  Big boat one guy.


People went on runs with their kids and family. The kid in the green boat on the left looked like he was 12

My favorite event of the day by far was the SUPs or Stand Up Paddle Boards.  I learned this technique had started in Hawaii and was hitting the paddling world by storm.  The fact that they could run these boards through the rapids was absolutely amazing and I was lucky enough to spend some time with the owners of Clackamas River Outfitters who participated in many of the events.  Luke, one of the owners, used to be part of the Pabst Blue Ribbon team and now rents equipment right down the road from us.  His wife Tanley was kind enough to answer my numerous questions and let me know when the best events would be happening so I could get some pictures.  Super nice people and I was really glad I got to hang out with them, because their booth was right next to mine in the main festival area.

The start of the SUP final


Luke has the orange helmet. He volunteered to start at the back of the pack since they can’t all start at the same place


What was amazing was even if you fall off you can get back on and finish the race


Check out the guy to the far right he got back up


Here’s a close up of Luke’s feet. Check out how he is balancing

Even the wipeouts were spectacular. So much fun to watch


Serious paddling was required after the rapids to reach the finish line.


And then the guys had to carry their boards up and back to the top of the event area to be in the next heat.  Look how much fun they were having.


They had a shuttle service for the bigger boats but they still had to be carried up from the water and onto a trailer parked pretty far (at least by my standards) away. This was a physically fit bunch of people.

Luke also participated in the kayak race which was really neat as well. That guy had amazing energy

The festival itself was a mix of locals, experts from other areas in Washington and Oregon, and spectators of all age ranges.  Since it was a dog friendly event I also got to see lots of puppies and Lee took some great shots of the festival goers at one point, as he covered for me while I took some pictures of an event.



They took these blow up rafts over the rapids but I missed that unfortunately


This absolutely beautiful female malamute was huge at 110 pounds


It was a fun group 🙂


The kids loved it too and were climbing all over everything and no one cared. It was that kind of crowd


We gave away these whistles which were a hug hit with kids and adults alike. I learned you need a whistle on your life vest to be “legal”


At the end of night 1 they even had a free BBQ and a beer garden

At the end of the last day there was a “rodeo” which had folks doing tricks and trying fun things on the river.  Lee and I were able to watch all of that together because we worked long hours the day before.  I really really enjoyed this.  The people, the events, all of it.  My only regret was I didn’t have the equipment or skill set necessary to get in that water.  It looked like so much fun.

A group of 4 tried to come down on a paddleboat


With predictable results


Still having fun though


But finally gave up and one guy even lost his pants 🙂  The bridge crowd got pretty excited about this!!


The guys in this twosome almost fell out


She grabbed him


The bridge crowd was cheering “She saved your ass” …was funny


This guys lost his paddle right in the middle of the rapid


Tried to get it several times while his buddy was paddling his butt off




Everyone cheered


My favorite was though rafting Santa. He was amazing doing “rodeo tricks” with this raft


He has turned the raft around and maneuvered it onto a huge rock. Amazing

So glad we got to participate and meet so many local people.  Everyone made us feel very welcome, which is definitely not always the case with small communities. I am sharing some of the pictures with Luke and Tanley and definitely am going to try paddleboarding while we are here.  I may need a wetsuit though because this water is COLD, hovering at around 40 degrees, which makes what these folks did all day even more impressive. If you ever get a chance to see one of these festivals I highly recommend it.

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12 thoughts on “First Time at a Whitewater Festival

  1. Fantastic photos!!! We love to watch all these types of sporting events. So much positive energy everywhere and it becomes contagious:o)) 40 degree water…I’d need two or three wet suits;o))) Sure looks like your summer gig is off to a great start!!

  2. What an amazing event! Love all your photos – I would think the organizers might want to use them for publicity for next year. Such fun!

    • I’m taking some down to Luke who was one of the sponsors so he can use them personally or for the event. We also passed along some to our employer and they seemed pleased

  3. That was a great event and great pictures! I can’t imagine using a paddle boat there! Hope the rest of your summer goes well. We should be there around mid August.

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