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Gonna be heading to PDX next week. With luck will be heading to HR. I've never been. I'm a good kiter with a good range of gear.
Any tips for where to park? Where to launch? Family friendly beaches while I'm kiting? (+dogs?)
Head to the town of Hood River, camp in at the Tucker Campground on the Hood River if you are camping. The event site is literally across the freeway from downtown Hood River... pretty sweet gig. You park West of the small Marina and then pump up on the grass, walk through the water to the sandbar, and rig and launch on the sandbar. If you are a freestyler kite below the sandbar in the butter (kickers and sliders), if you want swell head upwind (west) to the White Salmon Bridge or to Swell City. Bring a shortie and a full suit, bring ALL your gear!!! and a 5M!
The winds fill in differently every day, like the bay area, and you have to chase it. The Eastern Gorge is AWESOME... go to Rufus for sure. Big swells, big winds, and strong current. Stevenson is to the west of the event site and can be great but the launch is sketchy. There are tons of spots all over, so do your homework. Try to meet up with some people and do a downwinder. I didn't do one and totally regret it....
The thing is the current is nutso! You can ride a 7M in 19mph of wind cause the current is so strong. If you drop your kite it will kinda float at you, or in other words you and your kite will float downriver (upwind) until you get it launched... yea its a weird effect. If you are in that situation swim sideshore to the kite and get it to rotate into the window. It can be super frustrating.
Getting upwind is SO EASY... it will spoil you and when you come back you will not even want to kite the local spots. Its the escalator effect. Boards are lost frequently cause they will float upwind/downriver if you breakdown or get stuck in a lull. Its like Crissy but different...
check out NWkite forum.. lots of good gorge info.
2010 UG FLX
2012 Firewire Flexfire Strapless
I was recently there, about two weeks ago.
We camped in Tucker and had a blast.
First day we went to Event Site. Parking for the day is $5. Kited there for about 4 hours on my 12m. Wind varied from 8 to 20 but was awesome to practice jumping, etc.
Second day, was low wind but I found wind at 6pm in Stevenson. You drive from Hood River town, across the bridge to WA, then take a left and go for about 20 mins until you reach Stevenson. There I launched on a very tricky launch site, and kited for about 1 hour at winds of about 15.
Third day was THE BEST!. The Event Site had 15mph wind but Swell City (4 miles upwind down the river) was nuking at 30. So I Rigged my 9m, kited 4 miles Upwind from Event Site to Swell City, which took only about 20 mins because the river current helps you.
When I got to Swell City i was shredding some serious swell there with some aggressive windsurfers (dont get in their way cause they will sail right through you:) ) for about 1hour at winds of 30ish. After an hour or so, I did a downwinder back to Event Site, practicing jumping and tricks. Whole thing took about 4 hours and was AWESOME!!!
ENJOY! I think THE GORGE is one of the best kiting spots in the world.
The nutshell is:
Stay at Tucker and try to hit "Event Site" "Swell City" and "Stevenson" (get these on your windalert iphone fav list before you go)
When the wind is west, Hood River and east of that are best. When the wind is east, Stevenson is usually good, but the launch is tricky and you must be good enough to get back to where you left (current and wind in same direction means you best stay upwind well). Rooster Rock, almost all the way back into Troutdale, can also be good on easterlies. Sometimes when the Gorge is dead you can find wind at Jones Beach (watch out for ships) or hit the coast. Long drive but worth it if you camp there while high pressure is sitting still inland.
NAK makes a good point on nwkite - when the wind is easterly don't underestimate it by reading the water. It can be blowing 30 with no whitecaps due to the current being in the same direction. Also Jones is camp-able but no facilities (I forgot you have family with you). Westerlies build in the afternoon, easterlies tend to fade.
Judging by the time of your post, you missed some good sh!t at Rooster yesterday...
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