4th of July: Float Trip Up the Santiam and Willamette

Man, this weekend has completely exhausted me…every fiber in my being hurts. Since arriving back home at 1AM Sunday morning I have been in full on recovery mode. I not only slept in on Sunday, but I also took a nap. And I slept super long last night. I was also unable to accomplish anything yesterday (besides washing my car) because I seriously had a sun hangover. If that’s a thing. I highly advise not being on a river for 12 hours in one day. I feel as if I barely survived.

Backing up…

On Friday night I drove down to Salem to meet up with a good friend from back home. Kelly has been living in the PNW for about half a year and I am so glad she is within driving distance. It always feels good seeing a familiar face.

I met her at her work before we went and had dinner at an Indian restaurant. We went to a place in town called Taj Mahal and it was delicious! I had a chickpea dish called Channa Masala.

Afterwards we packed up gear for an expected two days on the river and one night of camping. Lots and lots of dry bags. We called it a night pretty early because we had an early, 5AM wake up call.

In the morning we met up with 5 of her friends, loaded up the cars and drove to our entry point. We were on the Santiam River at about 8:30AM. One canoe, three kayaks, and one man tubing it.

kayaking gear

Kelly ready to get on the water!

It was already a beautiful, sunny day. It has been very sunny and hot since I have moved here, which I guess is very out of the norm for this early in the Summer, but hey it could be worse.

For majority of the trip we were just floating and enjoying the water. Little paddling was done. We saw about a dozen bald eagles. It was my first time seeing a wild bald eagle and they are truly majestic creatures. And it seemed fitting that we saw so many on none other than the 4th of July.

canoeing up the santiam and willamette IMG_5697


santiam river


Our friendly shark

When the Santiam met up with the Willamette, part of our group wanted to set up camp, but a few others thought that there would be a better spot up more so we kept on going. The further we went, the more sun we took in. We were not finding any good camp spots and we had been on the river for 8 or 9 hours. I think it was a combination of too much sun and a lack of food, but we came to a point of calling it quits and finishing up the journey that day.

Willamette River

So, as the sun started to go down we paddled to Independence, Oregon. For a solid 3 hours I was paddling hard to make it before it got too late. My arms became so fatigued. It felt so good to finish and I felt very accomplished! But the fun was not over.

Independence Oregon
We made it! (Three others still out there) At Independence

We soon saw that Independence was having a massive 4th of July party. (Duh, the town is called Independence) There was live music, food stands, and hoards of people coming to watch the fireworks. There was no way were going to get our car even close to the water. There was no other option then to carry all the gear and rafts to the car. I took about 5 trips back and forth about 4 blocks. I got the best workout ever and I fortunately was able to watch some of the fireworks, but we weren’t out of there until 11:30PM.

I drove back to Portland that night because 1. I wanted to sleep and wake up in my own, very comfy bed 2. it is only a 50 minute drive. The whole drive home I felt like I was still on the water!

Although the trip did not go as planned, it was a unforgettable 4th of July. I got to explore more of this beautiful state, I soaked up more than my share of sun, we swam, we laughed, we sang, and my arms and shoulders are now ripped beyond belief! ;)


I hope your Holiday weekend was just as epic or relaxing. Both are great!

Also happy Monday and enjoy your week! I just dropped off my car to get the rear lift gate repaired, so I am without a car for a couple of days…time to get to the know Portland public transportation!


4 thoughts on “4th of July: Float Trip Up the Santiam and Willamette

  1. What a fun holiday weekend! I too get a sun hangover when I am outdoors for long periods of time, so I know exactly what you are talking about. Enjoy your public transportation adventures :)

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