Jet Ski Wrangling the Columbia

Trip Start May 10, 2010
1
4
Trip End Jun 21, 2010


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Where I stayed
Grand Coulee Lodge

Flag of United States  , Washington
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our story begins in Grand Coulee, WA. There are four of us guys on this project and we will be doing RTK cross section surveys every mile or so from Grand Coulee to Wenatchee. It was a rather daunting task to be standing in front of. Our survey platforms were the Jet ski's that we used earlier in the year for our estuary mapping. It sounds like fun, I know, but jet ski's are more fun when you're playing on them, not working.
The drive to Coulee took the whole day, we arrived as the sun was going down. After checking into our rooms we went out to Mexican food at (probably) the only open place in Coulee City. I was nervous to do this job because it was not going to be easy getting GPS signal in all these canyons.
The first day of surveying was pretty rough, we got everything set up in the morning and finally got out on the water only to find that the water was RIPPING down the tail race below the dam. In retrospect, this first line of the entire job was still by far the hardest. I tried several times to approach the shore but with a 7 kt. cross current it was almost impossible to not bump into the rocks on the shore line. Frustrated and feeling like I had no control over my jet ski we managed to collect 12 lines that day, just two over our minimum daily allotment. I could tell that this was going to be far from a vacation and crashed into my bed, sore all over from having been clinched and balancing all day.
The second day was a bit better, we had gotten away from the fast water and were now dealing with a reasonable cross current. The weather was beautiful and we were starting to get into a groove. Running lines, taking pictures, and logging notes. Fishermen that passed by all had a different idea for what they thought we were doing. Several asked us if we worked for WA Fish and Wildlife. Others didn't care who we worked for and simply asked us where the fish were. I swear that some people believe that the only thing that happens on the water from fall to spring is fishing.
We met our minimum number of lines and got a few more. We finished the second day with a little more sense of accomplishment compared to the first day.
That evening we drove through some beautiful country on the Indian Reservation to get over to Pateros, a little community next to the river below Chief Joseph Dam.
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