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Greg Hatten’s Woodenboat Adventures: Rainier National Park’s Waterways

As we’ve mentioned before on this blog, our friend Greg Hatten, the WoodenBoat adventurer, is floating some of our country’s National Parks as part of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service. For this trip, he invited along Seth Patterson, an avid sportsman and photographer who happens to work at Pendleton.

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Greg is an accomplished guide and fisherman who splits his time between Missouri and Oregon. He is happiest on the river in his wooden drift boat, the Portola, built to the exact specs of the original Portola piloted by conservationist Martin Litton down the Colorado River in 1964 as part of a historic journey that helped save the Grand Canyon. Greg’s 2014 recreation of this journey is part of his larger commitment to our National Parks.

But this trip to Rainier National Park did not involve the Portola, as Greg explains his his blog post:

This park is special to me. I’ve admired it from a distance and experienced it up close.  I’ve hiked the trails, skied the slopes, climbed the mountain, slept up at cold Camp Muir, and enjoyed the cozy warmth of Paradise Lodge.  As familiar as I am with Rainier, I’ve never explored the waterways. Since it’s impossible to put a handcrafted wood drift boat into the trickling streams of the park in the early stages of their life cycles, I did my initial exploring by boot instead of by boat.

I picked the Cowlitz for my river experience. It’s the largest river of the six and named for the Native American Indian tribe that still calls this area “home.” I hiked up the path to the glacier that gives it life and then, just outside the park boundary, I fished it – with a favorite fly-fishing friend on his favorite stretch of that river.

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There was a time when Rick LeBlanc and I chased steelhead all over the Pacific Northwest – once even riding a historic old canyon train in the very Northeast corner of Oregon to catch wild winter steelhead as we struggled to keep the eyes of our fly rods from icing shut. Rick is a fisherman’s fisherman. Though it had been years since we were together on a river we wasted no time in picking up exactly where we left off – a brothers’ bond of rivers, fish, flimsy rods and fancy flies. 

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Yes, that’s our blanket under that fancy flyGreg’s Parks t-shirt is here and his Ranger Plaid Trail Shirt is here.

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And wouldn’t your camp coffee taste great from this mug?

You can read the rest of Greg’s post at his Woodenboat Adventure blog. It’s a thrilling ride with a satisfying conclusion, and wonderful photography of its own. We had so many terrific shots to choose from that we decided not to duplicate. Over at his blog, you can click on Greg’s photos to see the larger versions of each photo. It’s the next best thing to having your own fly fishing adventure in Rainier National Park.

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We’re looking forward to Greg’s next trip! Who knows where these wooden boats will take us?

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Read the full post: Greg Hatten at Rainier National Park

See Pendleton’s Rainier National Park gear: Rainier National Park

Photography: Many thanks to the mighty Seth Patterson

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