Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Gorge winds are about to flip-flop for the season, and for the kiteboarders and windsurfers who recreate on the river for more than a few months every summer, a new east wind beach and launch awaits at the Port of Cascade Locks.
To be precise, the launch, named Blackberry Beach, has long been used by windsurfers as a bushwhack access point and alternative to Stevenson, particularly in the fall when strong east winds blow through the steep walls of that part of the Gorge. But recent efforts between the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association and the Port of Cascade Locks have greatly improved the access road, parking area and pathway to the river.
In a separate but nearby project, the Columbia Gorge Kiteboarding Association worked this summer with the CGWA and the Port of Cascade Locks to turn an overgrown, blackberry bush-riddled section of jetty into what is now a wide-open, buffed-out beach with unobstructed river views and clean wind exposure. The two beaches share the same improved parking area but the kite beach is about a 200-yard walk west down a jetty.
“These projects were done largely by volunteer efforts, and we have been very supportive of both,” said Chuck Daughtry, Port of Cascade Locks executive director. “We have always had an understanding that recreation is an important part of the community; anything we can do to create more opportunities for people to recreate is worthwhile.”
The CGKA and volunteers completed work on the new beach and kite launch last month and are hosting an east wind barbecue and beach party to introduce it to the public and celebrate the end of what is being called one of the windiest summers in recent memory. The party is free and is open to windsurfers, kiteboarders and the general public. It will start Saturday afternoon, with the hopes of a group kite/windsurfing session to start things off, if the wind and weather cooperates.
“It’s a great opportunity to draw windsurfers and kiteboarders to Cascade Locks, particularly this time of year,” Daughtry said. “It’s great to see this progress, but it’s also important to remember they’re only seasonal attractions. While projects like this are important, we are continuing to focus on year-round improvements and activities that will create family-wage jobs, get people back to work and get our school back open. We need it all and the port is very appreciative of the volunteers who are putting in their time and energy to help make these projects happen.”
Join the party
Beach christening party and barbeque, open to all, Saturday afternoon until 9 p.m. at Blackberry Beach kite launch. Directions: Cascade Locks to Forest Lane to the end of Industrial Park Way (follow signs to Blackberry Beach).