I ventured a little out of town to meet Luke and Tanley of Clackamas River Outfitters, but it was worth the trip to Estacada. They are owners and the faces of Clackamas River Outfitters, and they will get you paddling on the Clackamas River. Clackamas River Outfitters, or CRO, offers paddle board and kayak rentals, as well as tours and lessons. Luke and Tanley are so passionate about paddle sports and the water, they almost had me convinced to give paddle boarding a try.
Paddling For Everyone
Clackamas River Outfitters launched just last year. But, Luke and Tanley bring to it years of experience of paddling and a quiet confidence that is just as soothing as floating on calm water. As Luke told me about his years of white water paddling, it just seemed like such a natural thing to do – to go out on the water with nothing but a boat (or board) and a paddle. I sensed for Luke and Tanley, being on the water with a paddle is just another way of communicating with nature.
Luke explained that CRO provides not only the right gear for paddling, but also instruction on how to use the gear. CRO’s high quality rental fleet includes both sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks and paddle boards. The fleet sits in two locations: Estacada Lake at Timber Park and Promontory Park Resort & Marina. Both of these locations sit conveniently right on the water. You can rent the equipment by the hour, and advanced booking is recommended.
The Right Place To Paddle
Luke says their fleet is designed for beginners and the casual paddler. Luke and Tanley want to introduce paddle sports to more people, and they believe having the right gear and instruction is important. I asked them both how they manage clients like me who are a bit afraid of the water. They both smiled calmly. “We show them how to use the gear,” they said, “and we offer instructional tours.” You can even ask Luke to paddle along with you. They report that people always leave the water in a good mood and with a smile. It just feels good to paddle and to be out in nature.
The fleet is located on relatively calm water. Renters can paddle on their own or can venture out on a paddling tour. CRO offers a variety of paddling tours for both kayaks and paddle boards, including a twilight tour and down river paddle boarding tours. Luke says the Clackamas River is one of the best in the world for paddling. It never freezes and offers amazing scenery. People come from all over the country to paddle the Clackamas.
Passionate About Paddling
It is apparent that Luke and Tanley are passionate about paddle sports and being on the water. Luke is an accomplished white water paddler. He says he started kayaking in an inflatable kayak and then later switched to hard shell. While working at Next Adventure, he had the opportunity to paddle frequently. Soon, he was being sponsored by kayak companies. Luke also knows a thing or two about rafting.
Tanley has a B.A. in Recreational Administration and worked for awhile down in Irvine California for a kayaking center before moving back to Portland. She later earned an MA in Conflict Resolution. Tanley, who is also one of the instructors at CRO, says she wants to integrate her conflict resolution skills into the business. But I don’t think she wants to leave the water behind. It’s a part of her spirit too.
Paddling to the Future
Luke says they would like to one day expand the business to include rafting and have a store front, perhaps in Estacada. Luke explains, however, that all of the rafting permits for the Upper Clackamas have been take for years, but he’s hoping he can persuade the Forest Service to open up more spots. Last year PG&E renewed its 40-year license for the dam on the Clackamas, and new requirements for recreational infrastructure were included in the new agreement. This created an opening for Luke and CRO. Luke also believes the new infrastructure also means the Upper Clackamas can handle more rafting capacity without harming the environment.
Luke also wants to promote sustainable recreational tourism in Estacada. Luke thinks the area is ripe for tourists who like the water and the outdoors in general. So, he would like to have a store front, perhaps shared with a winter sports operation, where he can offer more rentals and gear. I think Luke is onto something. Have you been out there lately? Downtown is cute. The area is scenic and close to Portland. If the Spring Water Corridor is ever completed out to Estacada, bicyclists will come too. Estacada could be a recreational destination.
I left my meeting with Luke and Tanley feeling the urge to pick up a paddle and explore the Clackamas River. I also knew I would call them to get me started. They both share a joy for the water and nature, and it’s contagious. They also radiate a calm kind of energy that gave me a feeling of confidence to get on the water and try something new. I can sense why they have been so successful so quickly. It’s almost as if they are the river’s messengers, beckoning us all to experience and respect what nature has to offer.
Learn more about paddling at www.clackamasriveroutfitters.com.
Featured image courtesy of C.R.O.