By Dan Gavere
The Columbia Gorge has enough wind, water and snow to keep outdoor purist busy participating in a wide variety of water base activities featuring one of the best conditions in the country. The Gorge has unique geology that creates a funneling effect, which combined with a large barometric gradient can create winds sometimes in excess of 50 mph on certain “epic” days of the summer. Some sailors refer to this as “liquid smoke” because of the constant horizontal spray of the water from the wind swept waves creates an illusion of smoking water.
If a local says something like “today will be epic, the wind is nuking!”
Thousands of enthusiast will be rigging their smallest sails to harness some of the worlds best sailing conditions. In addition to the wind, the Columbia can churn swells, creating “faces” to carve, boost, and play.
At the epicenter of wind, water and waves, the gorge has become a thriving recreation destination and a place to call home for many of the world’s top athletes. It’s no wonder that people who prioritize their leisure time have figured out a way to make a living here- as a result the local communities have hundreds of artist, builders, and entrepenures who are happiest ripping across the Columbia River. Many visitors make annual trips to “The Gorge” to frolic in the Columbia River’s warm waters, using wind, paddles or simply gravity to propel them. Whether its kiteboarding, windsurfing or kayaking, the Gorge is a virtual playground.
With over 30 different launch areas, perfect conditions can be found year-round almost everyday. Kite beach on Hood River’s Sandspit, is the most popular of locals spots and one of the best places to learn. Lessons range from 2 hour intro-courses to multi-day private instruction. The freedom and fun felt while kiteboarding can be described as taking a magic carpet ride. Several of the top manufactures and distributors have established The Gorge as their headquarters, and many of their employees can be found taking sessions in the early mornings “dawn patrol”, during lunch break, or after work. Thanks to consistent wind, easy launch spots and a variety of sailing conditions, windsurfers alike have found The Gorge to be unbeatable for their adrenaline fix.