A shared pitcher of beer at the 74th Street Ale House led our
talk to kayaking. Monica suggested a
winter float down a section of the Skagit River.
A few days later Joel drifted the route in a dory to photograph
eagles, and scoped out the put-in and take-out places.
Following the chum
salmon run, carcasses of spent fish ground at every gravel bank,
offering a perfect winter feeding ground for bald eagles There are often more
than 300 birds here.
Monica, smiling and ready to start!
Joel drifting from the bridge at the put-in.
The river flows
deceptively fast across large rounded pebbles, just occasionally kicking up waves
large enough to spray the inside of my canoe.
We saw about 40 eagles huddled in the trees above the river, blurred by the snow that made us paddle to stay warm.
Kristin (left) Monica (center) and Jay...
and Joel Rogers
Kristin and Monica cruise past the exposed root ball of a tree stump. Stumps, and trees toppled by shore erosion drift downstream to snag on the shore or on mid-stream gravel banks.
Heaps of trees lined some sections of bank, stranded by falling water levels after the last flood.
Those trees that grounded in the middle of the river or on the outside of bends presented an obvious hazard, but such strainers
were easy to avoid except in the narrower side-channels where the river
The Baker River joins the Skagit near a town called Concrete. Concrete was the result of a merger between
the town of Baker on one side of the river junction, and a town that sprang up
in 1905 around a Cement plant across the river, called “Cement City”. When a cement plant was constructed in Baker
in 1908 the two cities decided to merge. Concrete became the official name for
the town after its incorporation in 1909.
As you might expect, there are concrete landmarks nearby, notably the lower
Baker Dam and the Henry Thompson Bridge. The bridge when it opened in 1917 was
perhaps the longest single span cement bridge in the world, and the Lower Baker
River Dam, completed 1925 and later raised to 293 feet, became the tallest
hydroelectric dam in the world in 1927.
Jay shows up well in the camera flash... reflective tape would show up like this under search lights in a rescue situation.