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Posts from the ‘Pendleton Woolen Mills’ Category

Portlandia and Pendleton. It just keeps happening.

Here in Portland, where Pendleton Woolen Mills is headquartered, we have been invested in Portlandia since it started.

The introduction at a meeting went something like this: “There’s a new show that’s going to film in Portland. Basically, it’s just going to make fun of us. And they want some product.”

We were fine with that. It wouldn’t be Portlandia without Pendleton blankets.

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Here’s a little tour of the blankets we’ve seen over the seasons.

This last season, we were honored to have our Journey West blanket as the backdrop for the dramatic and unforgettable back story of Toni and Candace, as narrated from the sofa in the Feminist Bookstore.

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One of our jackets had some sushi, too.

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We’ve been in a few more skits in Season Five, and will grab those stills as we can. But we thought it might be nice to recap the blankets of seasons past for you.

Who could forget the skit about binge-watching, back before we even knew how to call it binge-watching? Our watchers and their Glacier National Park blanket became progressively more rumpled as they watched just. One. More. Episode. Of Battlestar Galactica.

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Our favorite shot, bar none, is this one. Ah, the days of wine and Eddie Vedder. IFC gave away this fringed Chief Joseph dance shawl in a haiku contest on Facebook, back in the good old days when Facebook was a fun place to have contests.

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Our serapes made some peeks here and there, including this skit about a hippy who betrays his band of free-thinking friends by sneaking away to pursue his personal fitness goals at a gym.

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Another serape makes an appearance in a skit about an extremely disappointing brother-in-law. Even the dog is disappointed.

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Another Portlandia dog keeps company with the perpetually unemployed husband who needs a babysitter while he stays home all day, not looking for work. The dog takes center stage on our Glacier National Park throw.

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Carrie exercises “The Nuclear Option” to free herself from the tyranny of social media on our Abiquiu Sunset blanket.

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It’s never too late to sit in your immaculate Craftsman bungalow and learn the history of hip hop with our Chimayo throw, and that’s one of our Beach Shack shirts, too.

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A cringe-inducing tailgate party with Earl Grey tea and tofu meatless balls includes a quite pile of our throws and saddle blankets.

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Carrie and Fred have had so much fun at our expense. We’re looking forward to Season Six to see what else they will skewer. Portland and its earnestly recycling citizens realize that we’re great comedy fodder. There’s just so much to work with here.

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We know one day you’ll be through with us, Portlandia. But until then?

Carry on, Portlandia. Carry on.

Mothers Day is on the Way: Hand-Stitched Home by Susan Beal

Mothers Day is coming soon, and of course Pendleton has so many ways to show her you care. But you may be looking for something unique and handmade to honor a special mom.

We would like to suggest one of these charming planters in Pendleton wool, designed by Amy Alan of Really Handmade.

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Photography by Burcu Avsar

Amy’s planter is one of the projects curated by Susan Beal in her book, Hand-Stitched Home, published by The Taunton Press. Susan’s book is full of ideas, patterns and advice, with projects geared to all levels of crafting skill.

Hand-Stitched Home Cover

Cover by The Taunton Press, copyright 2014, with photography by Burcu Avsar

Susan is one of the bright lights in the Portland crafting community. She blogs at West Coast Crafty, one of the most popular crafting blogs around. She’s a charming person with so many ideas, and she appreciates the properties of wool that make it so wonderful to work with. We love what she’s done with our wool-by-the-yard. If you know a crafting mom, her book would make a wonderful Mothers Day gift.

Susan assures us that Amy Alan’s planter project is fast, fun, and simple. We love the results. And if you’re not quite motivated for Mothers Day, don’t forget, there’s Fathers Day coming, too. We love the fabric below for that, and the pattern is easily adapted to one of our colorful jacquard patterns. This is a fun way to give with a personalized Pendleton touch.

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You can follow Amy Alan here:

blog:  reallyhandmade.com/

Instagram: @amyalan

And follow Susan Beal here:

blog: westcoastcrafty.com

Instagram: @westcoastcrafty

Buy the book: Hand-Stitched Home

Happy Earth Day with Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool®: Sustainable, Beautiful, Responsible

EcoBeauty There are many, many products out there claiming to be green. From the sheep to the shelf, Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® passes strict standards of sustainability and stewardship, verified and certified. This means that if you were to take a Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® blanket and bury it, it would leave the earth better, not worse, for the addition. That’s a nice way to explain it, but we make blankets for you to use, not to bury. Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® products are designed to be delightful to touch, easy to care for and beautifully colored. And they are woven in the USA of 100% virgin wool.

Let’s start with our new Spring throws. These are all about the fun. These fringed throws come with a leather carrier, making this the perfect take-along blanket for your trips, picnics, hikes or sporting events. Best of all, they’re washable, so if your fun involves spills, sloshes, crumbs or mud, you’re covered. Just put it in the washing machine, even though it’s 100% virgin wool. We have two colorations of our classic Surf Plaid, and our new WoolDenim which looks like ring-spun denim, front and back. FringedThrowswLeatherCarrier Also new for Spring, we have washable fringed throws in the beautiful ombre plaids you think of when you think of Pendleton.

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Be sure to check out the classic colors, too. Blocks, checks, plaids; these are just begging to be thrown over the arm of your sofa.

Our throws coordinate coordinate back to our Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® bed blankets. Here are the solids and heathers. All Wool is a perfect choice for top-of-bed. There is a subtlety to the texture, nothing shiny or artificial about it, and the colors will remain true forever. Check out the bed blankets in stripes and plaids. There are accent pillows, fabric by-the-yard, window panels and more available in Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool®.  Go warm with with traditional plaids, rustic with stripes and heathers, or keep it contemporary with checks. We have you and your bed totally covered. Blake Lively agrees! blake-lively-vogue-cover-august-2014-03_170247646998 So give us a  visit  and see all our colorful ways to be green.

The Mohawks Who Built Manhattan and the Pendleton Skywalkers Blanket

jacquard_skywalkers_montage The Skywalkers blanket design (available now) was inspired by Art Deco design elements of some of New York City’s iconic skyscrapers such as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. It is a salute to the skilled Native American and First Nations iron workers who built some of the city’s famous landmarks, including the George Washington Bridge and the new One World Trade Center.

To see the faces of these seemingly fearless men, please visit this incredible collection of tintypes by Melissa Cacciola.

You can read the entire story below, which is a repost from Whitewolfpack.com and used with their permission. The original text of the article is written by Renee Valois. The following photographs are copyright © 2012 David Grant Noble.

For generations, Mohawk Indians have left their reservations in or near Canada to raise skyscrapers in the heart of New York City.

High atop a New York University building one bright September day, Mohawk ironworkers were just setting some steel when the head of the crew heard a big rumble to the north. Suddenly a jet roared overhead, barely 50 feet from the crane they were using to set the steel girders in place. “I looked up and I could see the rivets on the plane, I could read the serial numbers it was so low, and I thought ‘What is he doing going down Broadway?’” recalls the crew’s leader, Dick Oddo. Crew members watched in disbelief as the plane crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center, just 10 blocks away.

At first, Oddo says, he thought it was pilot error. He got on his cell phone to report the crash to Mike Swamp, business manager of Ironworkers Local 440, but he began to wonder. Then another jet flew by. “When the plane hit the second tower, I knew it was all planned.”

Like Oddo, most of the Mohawk crews working in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, headed immediately to the site of the disaster. Because many of them had worked on the 110-story World Trade Center some three decades earlier, they were familiar with the buildings and hoped they could help people escape faster. Fires were raging in the towers and the ironworkers knew that steel weakens and eventually melts under extreme heat. They helped survivors escape from the threatened buildings, and when the towers came crashing down, they joined in the search for victims.

In the months that followed, many Mohawk ironworkers volunteered to help in the cleanup. There was a terrible irony in dismantling what they had helped to erect: Hundreds of Mohawks had worked on the World Trade Center from 1966 to 1974. The last girder was signed by Mohawk ironworkers, in keeping with ironworking tradition.

Walking the iron

Mohawks have been building skyscrapers for six generations. The first workers came from the Kahn­awake Reservation near Montreal, where in 1886 the Canadian Pacific Railroad sought to construct a cantilever bridge across the St. Lawrence River, landing on reservation property. In exchange for use of the Mohawks’ land, the railroad and its contractor, the Dominion Bridge Co., agreed to employ tribesmen during construction.

The builders had intended to use the Indians as laborers to unload supplies, but that didn’t satisfy the Mohawks. Members of the tribe would go out on the bridge during construction every chance they got, according to an unnamed Dominion Bridge Co. official quoted in a 1949 New Yorker article by Joseph Mitchell (“The Mohawks in High Steel,” later collected in the 1960 book Apologies to the Iroquois, by Edmund Wilson). “It was quite impossible to keep them off,” the Dominion official said.

The official also claimed the Indians demonstrated no fear of heights. If they weren’t watched, he said, “they would climb up and onto the spans and walk around up there as cool and collected as the toughest of our riveters, most of whom at that period were old sailing-ship men especially picked for their experience in working aloft.”

Impressive perhaps, but Kahn­awake ironworker Don Angus explains that his ancestors back then were just teenagers daring each other to climb the 150-foot structure and “walk the iron.” Company workers tried to chase them off the bridge, Angus says. “I know that for a fact. They were getting in the way.”

The Indians were especially interested in riveting, one of the most dangerous jobs in construction and, then as now, one of the highest paid. Few men wanted to do it; fewer could do it well, and in good construction years there were sometimes too few riveters to meet construction demand, according to the New Yorker article. So the company decided to train a few of the persistent Mohawks. “It turned out that putting riveting tools in their hands was like putting ham with eggs,” the Dominion official declared. “In other words, they were natural-born bridge-men.” According to company lore, 12 young men—enough for three riveting gangs—were thus trained.

After the Canadian Pacific Bridge was completed, the young Mohawk ironworkers moved on to work on the Soo Bridge, which spanned the St. Mary’s River connecting Sault Ste. Marie, On­tario, and Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Each riveting gang brought an apprentice from Kahn­awake to learn the trade on the job. When the first apprentice was trained, a new one came up from the reservation, and by 1907 more than 70 skilled structural ironworkers from the reservation were working on bridges.

Then tragedy struck. American structural engineer Theodore Cooper had designed the Quebec Bridge, a cantilevered truss bridge that would extend 3,220 feet across the St. Lawrence River above Quebec City. Because the Quebec Bridge Co. was strapped for cash, the company was eager to accept his design, which specified far less steel than was typical for a bridge of that size.

As the bridge grew, disturbing bends in the structure were explained away by Cooper and John Deans, chief engineer of Phoenix Bridge, the company building the bridge, as damage probably caused offsite before the beams were set in place. No one wanted to admit that the expensive bridge appeared increasingly unable to bear its own weight.

On Aug. 29, 1907, the bridge collapsed. Of the 75 men who died, 33 were Mohawks—about half of the tribe’s high-steel workers. But the tragedy didn’t turn Mohawks away from ironworking. According to an elderly Mohawk quoted in the 1949 New Yorker article, “It made high steel much more interesting to them. It made them take pride in themselves that they could do such dangerous work. After the disaster . . . they all wanted to go into high steel.” Less than 10 years later, the American Board of Indian Commissioners claimed that 587 of the 651 men in the tribe now belonged to the structural steel union.

But to ensure that so many tribesmen were never again killed in one accident, the Mohawk women insisted that the men split into smaller groups to work on a variety of building projects. That’s when they began booming out—tribal slang for scattering to find high-steel work away from home, in New York City and other distant places.

Gangs of New York

 

Although Mohawks had worked in New York City as early as 1901, it wasn’t until the 1920s that they came in large numbers, working in tight-knit four-man gangs to feed the demand for workers during a massive building boom, later stoked by Depression-era public works and then post-World War II prosperity. They came eventually not only from Kahnawake, but from other reservations as well, including Akwesasne (or Akwasasne) in upstate New York, near Canada.

Mohawk high-steel men worked on virtually every big construction project in New York City: the Empire State Building, the RCA Building, the Daily News Building, the Bank of Manhattan Building, the Chrysler Building, the United Nations, and Madison Square Garden. They also continued to build bridges, including the George Washington Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge, the Triborough Bridge, the Henry Hudson Bridge, the Hell’s Gate Bridge, the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, and many more.

During the heady boom times of the first half of the 20th century, construction of steel structures required three types of work crews: raising gangs, fitting-up gangs, and riveting gangs.

The steel columns, beams, and girders arrived at the construction site already cut to size with holes for rivets, and code marks indicated where each was to be placed. The raising gang used a crane to lift the steel pieces and set them in place, loosely joining them with a few temporary bolts. The fitting-up gang tightened the pieces, ensuring that they were plumb, and inserted more temporary bolts. Then it was time for the four-man riveting gangs, where the Mohawks excelled. Because of the dangerous nature of the job, riveters preferred to work with partners they trusted; for Mohawks, this meant relatives and fellow tribesmen.

In the riveting gang, the heater fired the rivets in a portable, coal-burning forge until they were red-hot. With tongs he then tossed a rivet to the sticker-in, who caught it in a metal can as he stood with the other gang members on narrow scaffolding beside the steel. The bucker-up re­moved one of the temporary bolts and the sticker-in then shoved the hot rivet into the empty hole. The bucker-up braced the rivet with a dolly bar while the riveter used a pneumatic hammer to turn the hot and malleable stem of the rivet into a permanent head, securing the steel. The men took turns at the four tasks, making sure to give the riveter a regular break from his bone-jarring job.

Though ironworking technology has improved over the years, ironworkers still die on the job at a rate of 35 to 50 fatalities each year—75 percent of them from falls. Akwe­sasne ironworker Oddo lost his grandfather to a fatal fall from the high steel; his father died on his 25th anniversary in ironworking, driving home from a construction site. Many graves of fallen steelworkers at Kahnawake are marked by crosses made of steel girders.

The pay continues to bring the Mohawks back: Ironworkers today earn about $35 an hour plus benefits, which in busy times yields $65,000 to $70,000 a year.

The highs and lows of steel

 

In 1927 a federal court judge, citing the 150-year-old Jay Treaty, ruled that the Mohawks could pass freely between Canada and the United States since their territory had included portions of both nations. But because the drive from New York City to Kahnawake took almost 12 hours, many of the men instead moved their families to Brooklyn.

By 1960, around 800 Mohawks lived there. A Mohawk steelworker conclave had sprung up near Fourth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, with grocery stores stocking their favored o-nen-sto cornmeal and churches offering services in their native language.

But just 10 years later, few Mo­hawks remained. The new Adiron­dack Northway had halved the time it took to drive between New York and Kahnawake, and along with a growing pride in Indian culture—and rising crime in New York City—the shorter commute convinced most of the Mohawk ironworkers that it was time to go home.

Today most of the high-steel Mohawks still live in the city during the week, often sharing lodgings, and drive home to their families in Kahnawake and Akwesasne every weekend. But work has been slow since the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, and recent improvements in reinforced concrete have made it more attractive in some ways than steel: It goes up faster, requires less height for the same number of floors, is easier to modify during construction, and—most important in the wake of 9/11—it’s more resistant to heat.

On the other hand, steel is still considerably stronger than concrete, and steel-framed buildings are easier to modify to suit the needs of successive tenants. Because of that, many experts say that steel structures will never completely disappear.

That suits the Mohawks, who after six generations have made high steel a tribal tradition. “It makes you a better man,” says Swamp.

Renee Valois wrote about American mummies in the May/June issue of The History Channel Magazine.

A Mohawk Skywalking Tradition

Why would people with deep traditions centered in the earth embrace the trade of building skyscrapers in a city, high above it? Indeed, for decades anthropologists, construction company executives, and even the Mohawks themselves have debated why the tribesmen originally became skywalkers and why they remain high-steel workers today.

Probably the most controversial assertion originated with an official at the Dominion Bridge Co., which trained the first Mohawk ironworkers in 1886. He reportedly claimed that they had no fear of heights and even compared them to sure-footed mountain goats.

Others have suggested that the Indians’ tradition of walking one foot in front of the other on narrow logs over rivers suited them for walking the thin girders of a bridge or a skyscraper. This suggests that they have a natural balance and agility that is probably fictional: Mohawks don’t die in lower numbers than other ironworkers.

Anthropologist Morris Frielich suggests a cultural lure for ironworking: He compares high-steel Mohawks to warriors who risked death and returned with booty. Some anthropologists have also suggested that the risky work gave tribesmen a chance to test and display their courage.

While many Mohawk ironworkers admit to taking pride in doing a dangerous and important job, they dispute the idea that they’re not afraid of heights. Kahnawake ironworker Don Angus says Mohawks simply “have more respect for heights. You’ve got to watch it up there.”

On the other hand, some historians and some Mohawks cite the tribes’ ancient tradition of building longhouses as proof that building has always been in the blood. “It’s a hand-me-down trade, and it’s tradition,” says Angus. “My grandfather and his grandfather worked on iron.” Akwesasne ironworker Mike Swamp agrees: “My father was an ironworker. My son is an ironworker. It’s a family tradition.” SOURCE

Photos Copyright © 2012 David Grant Noble

Happy National Tartan Day! Here is the official Pendleton Hunting Tartan.

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In 1999, Pendleton Woolen Mills registered the official Pendleton Tartan with the Scottish Tartans Society. The tartan itself can be seen around the borders of the certificate.This tartan was created to commemorate Pendleton’s roots in the Pacific Northwest and the many generations of family that have overseen Pendleton’s business through the years. The official company tartan also salutes the British Isles origin of Pendleton’s weaving heritage, thanks to our founder, Thomas Kay.

So enjoy National Tartan Day. Wear your plaid with pride, and the next time you go out hunting Pendleton, consider wearing our tartan.

 

Atlantic Video — The Gem of the Pacific Northwest: A Visual Ode to Oregon’s Seashore

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Click here to watch the video: The Gem of the Pacific Northwest: A Visual Ode to Oregon’s Seashore

We urge you–strongly urge you–to click the link to watch this beautiful video posted by the Atlantic. It captures the charm and the chill of our home state’s seaboard. It begins with the moon, which is appropriate for a region that is controlled by the tides, and sometimes starved for the sun. There is swimming (in shorts) and surfing (in wetsuits), sitting on the sand (in sweatshirts). There are hardworking fishermen who buy our shirts to stay warm. There are the contented cows of the Tillamook County Creamery Association, feeding happily on the dense grass that grows in air that’s lush with moisture. Waves, trees and rock formations form a natural backdrop for mankind’s contribution; piers, docks and buildings that fight a constant battle to stay painted and standing under the constant barrage of mist, rain, wind and salt. We think this video does a perfect job of conveying why everyone in Oregon doesn’t live at the coast, and why everyone in Oregon secretly thinks we might want to.

We hope you can see some of this Oregon in our Journey West and Mission Mill blankets, which commemorate the westward journey and first mill of our founder, Thomas Kay.

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Journey West is based on a piece of fine European weaving. The original blanket was discovered recently in a 19th-century European mill and included the designer’s notes and calculations, handwritten neatly along the sides. Our modern Pendleton designers viewed this historic work of art with reverence and used it as inspiration for our Journey West jacquard design. This design’s European origins echo the story of master weaver Thomas Kay, who began his training as a bobbin boy in English mills before coming to America to establish the family legacy that led to Pendleton Woolen Mills.  Mission Mill is named for the mill in Salem, Oregon, that was built (and rebuilt) by Thomas Kay after he made his way to Oregon. The Thomas Kay Woolen Mill turned out the first bolt of worsted wool west of the Mississippi. The old mill is a part of the historic Mission Mill Museum in Salem, Oregon. The Victorian colors and composition of the design are a nod to our founder’s English ancestry.

Oregon is a state of great natural beauty, climatic variability and bountiful resources. Thomas Kay must have understood that when he settled in Salem. Our state’s population continues to grow, but we want to warn those of you who are considering the Oregon coast as your destination: watch the video and pay attention. If you move here, you’re going to need blankets.

#pendletonpups on Instagram: Little Dogs Rule

We love to see your Pendleton lifestyle on Instagram. Please tag us with #pendleton to make sure we see you, and your #pendlepups!

 

Sad Pom! You have a treat and a Pendleton spa towel. Why so sad, little Pom?

 

Do Dachshunds dream of being Greyhounds? This one does, on a Chimayo throw. Did you know our Chimayo throw now comes in six different colorations? Well, now you do!

 

She can't resist either • sunbathing in #pendleton #puds @pendletonwm

A photo posted by Kerrie Inouye (@kerrie_inouye) on

A wee beach dawgie naps on a Pendleton spa towel. Our spa towels continue to be just the thing for beach and poolside, so take one along on your vacation this winter.

 

Rocco Pom received a Painted Pony baby blanket of his own, because clearly he is somebody’s baby. But he is not to be playing with the Lucky Bear, because that belongs to another baby.

 

@PendletonWM #ChristmasEve #party #Christmas #Pupster #SantaAnticipation

A photo posted by Lydia Marie (@lydiamrie) on

Tiny terrier on tartan. Say that three times fast.

 

Wee Frenchies recline on a Hemrich Stripe camp blanket. Our camp blankets continue to be a terrific choice for dorm rooms, sofa throws, and picnic blankets.

 

Some Rat Terriers have their close-up moment in a Chief Joseph blanket. This is Pendleton’s oldest ongoing pattern, in the line since the 1920s.

 

Millionaire seems to be enjoying my new #Pendleton blanket… I woke up to her wrapped in it. #momentswithsunday

A photo posted by Danielle💎💄🍻💃 (@bobsegerdanceparty) on

Tiny Dingo on a Pendleton, Snug pug on a Pendleton. It’s hard to ID these blankets, because they are shown on the reverse and there’s an Instagram filter on the shot.

 

Sunday Morning 🍞

A photo posted by TOAST MEETS WORLD™ (@toastmeetsworld) on

It’s a dog’s life for this sleeply spaniel, tucked in under a 5th Avenue throw in the Glacier National Park stripe.

On Route 66 with Pendleton and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

You’ve probably bought yours, and you probably didn’t buy it to look at the blankets, but we are pleased as can be to be featured in the 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Here’s a fun little move that gives you a look behind the scenes: Behind the Tanlines

Seriously, the movie fun to watch. It captures the reactions of locals as a bunch of bikini-clad beauties breezing into the small towns along Route 66. Between their sessions of stretching, pouting and posing, the models are a sweet and somewhat goofy bunch of women. Here’s a fetching still of Ariel Meredith to get you interested.

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Yes, the photos were taken along Route 66, so our Americana design, Brave Star, was a perfect choice.

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Sara Sampaio posed with the blanket, as well, and in the magazine you can see it with Ashley Smith.

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Our Serape makes an appearance in the foothills with the natural beauty of Jessica Gomes.

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Our Chimayo throw blends perfectly with the landscape, letting Nina Agdal’s beauty shine. It’s shown in Agave Stripe, and our photo below is the Coral version.

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And of course, there’s the stunning Robyn Lawley with the Bright River blanket.

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We also sent along a Route 66 blanket, but that doesn’t seem to have made its way in.

The magazine has other shots, equally as beautiful and risque enough that we are going to let you pick it up on your own to see them. Certainly these photos are gorgeous enough!

Canvas & Wool on the McKenzie by Greg Hatten

Our friend Greg Hatten writes about his “home water,” Oregon’s McKenzie River. Greg uses our Yakima Camp blankets and National Park Series blankets on his expeditions. You can learn more about the Parks and the blankets they have inspired here. But for now, just enjoy a trip on the river with Greg. 

far-campThe McKenzie River in the Cascade Range of Oregon is my “home – water” – it’s where I learned to row a drift boat and where I feel the most comfortable on the oars.  Her icy waves, aqua pools, moss covered boulders and challenging rapids bring me back again and again.  It’s a rock garden playground for a wood drift boat and a 90 mile paradise for native redside rainbow trout as the river makes its way down the valley and folds into the Willamette River on its way to the Pacific Ocean.

Tall stands of Douglas fir, western hemlock and red cedar line the banks and steep hills forming a solid curtain of subtle shades of green on both sides of the river. As the McKenzie cuts through the Willamette National Forest, there are small pockets and openings within the dense trees to camp alongside the river.

For 8,000 years, this river was home to Native Americans – mostly of the Kalapuya and the Molala tribes.  In 1812 it was explored by the Pacific Fur Company and was named for the expedition leader, Donald Mackenzie.

Camping in canvas and wool seems appropriate in this place and my mind drifts back in time 200 years as I set up the tent in a small clearing of towering  trees.  With so little evidence of civilization around us, it’s easy to wonder what those explorers in 1812 experienced as they reached this spot on the river, what they saw, how they camped, how they fished, and cooked and ate.

I spread a Pendleton blanket (Badlands National Park) over the floor of the teepee tent, unfurled the cowboy bedrolls and enjoyed the coziness of the shelter for a moment before starting a campfire .  The oars from the boat become a triangle “lamp stand” when lashed together and the camp lantern hanging above our campsite gives off a warm glow casting playful shadows on the ground and tent.  It’s a comfortable camp filled with nostalgia and authenticity.

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Most of my river guests prefer an overnight experience that includes running water, indoor toilets, soft beds, clean sheets, and WIFI.  Not these guests! These guests requested a unique and rustic adventure filled with wood boats, canvas tents, wool blankets, and warm campfires. They wanted to get away from cell phones, computers, and modern conveniences.   It’s an unfiltered McKenzie River experience they seek – a direct connection to the explorers and pioneers that originally explored this McKenzie River Valley.

That evening we ate smoked salmon, fresh vegetables, pasta, and organic strawberries that were so sweet they tasted like they’d been soaking in a brine of sugar water.  After dinner the smoky smell of the campfire complemented the scotch we drank as we talked about the day and made our plans for the next.

Our canvas tent and bedrolls sat on a layer of pine needles and loose soil that created such a soft quiet cushion, sleep came easy.  We inhaled the evergreen aroma of pine and I wondered if it was the same smell two hundred years ago.  The sounds of the running river were close enough to hear but not close enough to disturb as we slumbered away under a canopy of dark swaying boughs overhead.

Morning came early and we broke camp quickly so we could get to the pressing business of river running in a wood boat.  The Class III Marten’s Rapid was on our river agenda and on my mind all morning as we navigated minor rapids and fished our way to the top of this most treacherous rapid on the McKenzie.  As usual, we heard it before we saw it with its low growl that warned of danger.  Two days before us, a drift boat hit the left wall so hard it left a mark on the rock – the moment of impact was captured by a photographer below the rapid and the picture was plastered all over web sites and facebook.

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When the river is low in mid summer, the slot gets narrow and the holes get deep so we pull into an eddy behind “house rock” at the top of the rapid to catch our breath and confirm our line.  The path looks more complicated than usual.  We pushed out of the eddy and picked up speed.  We put the nose of the boat as close to the “can opener” rock as possible and then pulled hard to miss it by a foot.  A rebounding wave off the rock knocked us off course a little and sent us flying towards the wall on the left.  Digging the oars deep, slowed the boat just enough to narrowly miss the wall.  We immediately dropped into a series of sharp swells that tried to swallow the boat and soaked us with breaking waves over the prow.   It was a roller coaster ride with two big holes at the bottom, which we threaded and then pulled over to dry off and bail water out of the boat.  Quite a ride!!

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Some of my favorite rapids on the river are below Marten’s.  They are technical but not brutal and the boat moved with elegance – threading rocks, skirting eddies and working in perfect harmony with the river. The afternoon was hot and sunny as we settled into a rhythm of rowing rapids and fly fishing for trout.

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The last fish brought to the boat that day was a beautiful native redside rainbow trout, a fitting end to a throw-back adventure of Canvas & Wool on the McKenzie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GO HAWKS!

GoHawks!Hope you all enjoy the game.

 

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