long distance training on the willamette

sup touring
Paddling below an old railroad bridge and then Interstate 5 crossing near Wilsonville

Paddling below an old railroad bridge and then Interstate 5 crossing near Wilsonville

Yesterday I finally had an opportunity to simulate conditions I am likely to encounter in New Zealand! I ventured on a 12 mile paddle on the Willamette, from Champoeg State Park to Molalla State Park, or just east of it to the Canby Ferry. The weather was a match: splitting between over cast and sunny, the water was a match: mixed wake and flat water with a gentle down stream current, though, still requiring much physical effort to make forward progress. The whole mission took approximately 4 hours and gave a solid idea of what can be reasonably accomplished in a day on a massive water way moving almost one mile an hour.

Some say flat water paddling is boring. Many say it can’t be done well on an inflatable. I disagree with both of these assertions. Yesterday was the biggest milage day on the flattest water I have ever done and the Hala-Nass performed like a champ. Here is a summary of the touring qualities where the Nass excels:

Loss of air: Maybe because of air/water temperature differentials, maybe for other reasons, over the course of a big day paddling, it is possible for an inflatable to lose air pressure. This has never happened on the Nass and I have always been satisfied with the rigidity it demonstrates at 15 psi. In fact, at take outs, many times, passer-bys have stopped me and express their surprise as I deflate the craft. People have no idea it is an inflatable.

Ability to hold weight: I must acknowledge, as a female, I have a bit of an advantage in this category as I weigh less than a male, but lately I have loaded the board up with weight- 20+ lbs and it hasn’t lost air or much buoyancy.

Keeping up with kayaks: I paddled the Willamette stretch with a male kayaker with about equal water experience and a mediocre kayaka. I was blown out of the water to see after 3+ miles that I had a significant lead on him. This could be due to some new strokes I have been experimenting with but I think the Nass has to be the most all around, speedy, efficient, durable board I have ever ridden. Every day it surprises me with a new advantage…

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