I bought a pair of Keen water shoes in 2010 to go to Lollapalooza with my friend Alex. They were the nicest pair of water shoes I have owned yet. I have enjoyed using them often since I am living in Oregon now. They have been my go to shoe for all the kayaking trips I get to go on working as the Full Charge Bookkeeper for Next Adventure This job has a lot of adventure perks. I plan to go on them all. So far I have being skiing on Mount Hood, taken every guided hike and I have taken every guided kayaking trip they have to offer.
I have been out to Ross Island, several times- it is on the Willamette River. I have been out to Rooster Rock which is on the Columbia River Gorge. I have been to Sauvie Island which is in the state of Washington but feels like really far north Portland. I have come to expect some kind of challenge to happen during the trips because so far every trip has had something happen to make it a somewhat difficult experience.
Off all the challenges I have dealt with, the trip to Sauvie Island sticks with me the most.
Our group started off having a good time, we were moving along, taking in the nature when we encountered water only 2 inches deep. This would take hours and hours to get out of. The mud underneath was so soft we were unable to get out and stand in it to pull the boats. I tried and the mud went up over my knees to mid thigh. We turned our paddles into oars and inched our way along. It was miserable but there was no other way around it. Not everyone was going at the same speed. It is important to stay together as a group. After a considerable amount of time pulling ourselves along it was time for a break. I hitched up with the high school girl. She had just had surgery on her foot. Under no circumstances should her foot get wet. She came on this trip because it had already been paid for. Not only was it her Aunt’s birthday, it was also her Mom’s weekend to be with her. She sang Journey songs with me and taught me the new slang way the kids say “bitch” = “batch of cookies” I think it’s cute! I’m going to start using it. We also played silly games and asked each other fun get to know you questions. Thank Jah this group was awesome to be stuck with!
After an hour of chillin’ in the mud, waiting for the other people to catch up, everyone voted to move inward and go from there. It would take another 30 min of inching along just to reach the shore. I am going to need to get out of my boat to help the high school girl get her boat the closest to shore as possible so she could get out while keeping her foot dry. I’m going to have to pull her boat which will require me getting into the mud. The mud was soft like gray clay. The minute I stepped into it, it came to above my knees . I lifted my leg up to take a step and bloop..my shoe came off 2 feet under the mud.
Oh Fuck! I turned right back around and plunged my arm in that crap to find my $100 pair of shoe. Seriously, it was not to be found anywhere. I plunged and plunged my arm around, it was hopeless. I pulled that girl to shore and the sweetest gal that was on our trip came back out in the mud to help me look. We crawled around on all fours…. both of us grossed out – words can’t express the feelings we had. After a solid 10 minutes of trying, we didn’t recover the shoe. I would have to spend the next 5 hours with one shoe only.
The mud proved too much for the group to get through so our guide decided the next course of action. We would pull our boats across a cow pasture which had stickers galore on the ground before making our way closer to the river to drop back in and paddle back to where the van was. We were tired and the tour guide ended up having to pull some people for awhile. We were also out of drinking water. Thankfully a boat had noticed how long we were stuck and tossed us some bottled water.
Finally we make it to shore. Loaded up the van and headed back to town. We didn’t make it back to the shop until 7:30p.m. (2.5 hours later than planned).
I stayed to help the tour guide wash the mud off the boats before putting them back. Then I gave her a ride home since she needed one. Dang. What a trip.
Three days later I received an email from the Willamette RiverKeeper asking for volunteers. The Willamette RiverKeeper is the only non profit organization here in Portland dedicated to clean up of the Willamette River. The river is large and dirty. It divides Portland into east / west sides. It’s the reason we have twelve cool bridges. I’m glad someone cares enough to keep it clean. Especially now that they try to market it as safe to swim in during the summer. They were offering a Keen shoe gift card worth $150 in exchange for a four hour shift. Whoa- just what I needed and just in time. It’s like the universe stepped in right away to support me ❤ Therefore- Sign me up and put me wherever you need me.
They signed me up to be stationed at a New Seasons Market in Beaverton. I was tasked with selling chili outside the store. It cost $5 and the money would go towards keeping the river clean ( and I get my shoes back ) I stood outside for 4 hours. For 3 of those 4 hours I shouted at people walking by “It’s a great day for chili” . It was indeed a great day for it. It was cloudy with the feel of rain in the air. I am a vegetarian and so was the chili. I had it for lunch, it was delicious.
I got my shoes back as well as a pair of much needed rain boots. It rains in Portland 8 to 9 months out of the year. Maybe not all day everyday but often enough to use rain boots.
I can’t believe it worked out. What a crazy way to loose my shoe and then get them back plus some. I wouldn’t trade this story for anything. I have learned that painful moments end up making the best memories when you get to look back upon them.
Thanks Earth School.