Lured by the chance to canoe with spawning salmon, Emily, Christina, Rhea, and I made our way up to Harrison early on Saturday morning for a day-long canoe trip with Ridge Wilderness. Unfortunately our timing was a bit mixed. We avoided the rain, but also avoided most of the salmon.
It took us about 4 1/2 hours to paddle the Harrison River from Harrison Hot Springs to Kilby, with an hour stop for lunch. There was a heavy mist for the first hour, but it slowly burned off leaving us with a gorgeous sunny afternoon. The wind was strong, but luckily it was a tailwind that blew us swiftly down the river.
Sadly, we saw more dead salmon than live ones as we paddled downstream. We just missed the spawning pink salmon (as evidenced by the many dead fish washed up along the shore) and were too early for the sockeye run. There were still a few sockeye in the river jumping around our canoe, which was cool. Our lunch spot was particularly popular with jumping salmon, and we were well entertained while we ate our sandwiches. However, I was hoping to see thousands of salmon surrounding our canoe – a sight likely to greet paddlers heading down the Harrison in the next few weeks.
Even with the less salmon than hoped, we all had a great time paddling. Our guides (Gareth and Beth) were fun and knowledgeable – teaching us about the local Chehalis First Nation, salmon, and canoe-lore. The paddling was a great workout and my shoulders were sore on Sunday, but not as much as my ass. I definitely recommend bringing something padded to sit on, the benches are hard.