Summer Tour West – Hood River with Kayak Shed and Heather Herbeck


I have had an amazing time traveling through the Western States this summer. Just a couple of weeks ago I spent a week in Hood River, Oregon and White Salmon, Washington.

I landed in Hood River about 5 days early because I wanted to explore the world class whitewater that lies within a few miles in every direction. Kayak Shed was an outstanding host. I walked in Tuesday morning before the clinic and was greeted with a familiar face, Angie Williamson, who I had paddled with last year during Ladies on the Lower G! I also met Luke, Derek and John Hart, the owner. They were all very helpful and friendly and Angie and I made plans to paddle later in the day when the store closed. That evening was my first White Salmon River experience! Wow! I now have a new favorite river! With chilly, cool blue water from aquifers in the ground the water splashing through walls covered in lush ferns, and banks lined with draping green towering trees. It is magical!

That night I made it to Heather and Nate Herbeck’s house, just across from the Middle White Salmon put-in. Wow, what a great location! This is where I camped out for the next week. My two kind and generous hosts were a lot of fun and Heather kept me busy! She’s a cross-fit instructor so I attended her 6 am class the next day. Once I finished the short workout, I thought “Wow, that wasn’t so hard, I feel great!”. The next couple of days though, I was feeling it! My thighs burned from the squats. I can see why she is so passionate about it. It is a great all-round work out- cardio and muscle building.

The rest of the week, I paddled with Heather, an amazing kayaker and instructor! I learned so much from her, and had a blast! I managed to paddle the middle section of the White Salmon two more times that week, the Sandy Gorge, the Farmlands and the lower sections of the White Salmon and the Klickitat. My favorite was definitely the Farmlands section. I hit the river with Heather, Nate, Christie Glissmeyer, Luke Maddux and Jessie Becker. I have to admit, I was a little star struck, paddling with such big names in the sport. After the toughest rapid, I sat in the eddy below and smiled to myself looking around. The section is a class IV run with three gorges. The water rushes through the gorges over drops that create sticky holes and huge waves. I was pretty gripped the entire time but was also loving every minute of it! Lots of smiles and cheers after every rapid!

The weekend clinics went great! I can’t rave enough about Heather Herbeck. She is an outstanding instructor and shares with her students her energy and passion for the sport. Her knowledge of technique and her grace on the water leave each student feeling confident, comfortable and excited to get back on the water.

Saturday was the beginner clinic on the Klickitat. We had 5 students. Several of them had paddled before but two learned the wet exit for the first time. We covered all of the strokes, edging and bouncing through wave trains. We laughed a lot as we cruised down the stretch of river. Just before the take-out is a class III rapid called Ishy-Pishy. A few of the women opted to run it. It is a huge, fun wave train! Bigger than the ones we get back east. We all headed down the rapid, following Heather’s lead and bounced our way through. The women all did great!!

Sunday for the Intermediate clinic, we paddled the Klickitat again. We had a much larger group of 8 this day. Once we figured out the car situation we drove to the put-in. After paddling a little ways down the river to a larger eddy where we could stop and chat, Heather taught us all how to do a sand roll off of the shore. We all tried it and did it well after a few tries. We practiced our strokes before moving into ferries. We ferried back and forth and then paddled down the river. Every one then mastered their eddy turns and peal outs using some new techniques that Heather shared.

The women were all awesome! They whole group paddled through the final Ishy-Pishy again. We had a great day on the water and many of the women exchanged info so that they could all paddle together again in the future.

Thanks so much to Kayak Shed, Heather Herbeck, all of the fantastic women who paddled with us and of course to our sponsors- Dagger, Kokotat, Watershed, First Ascent, Luna, Emergen-C, and Shred Ready who make this all possible!!

To paddle with us on the Summer Tour next year, keep an eye out for when we’ll be back in your area!  Also, you might be interested in ourIdaho wilderness adventure!  If you can’t wait till next summer to paddle with us, check out our winter getaways to Mexico!