Lewiston, ID July 30, 2013 Author Scott Sadil arrived Sunday, July 28, at Hell’s Gate State Park, five miles upstream from Lewiston, Idaho, completing a 471-mile voyage up the Columbia and Snake rivers in Tia, his home-built Swampscott dory.
Sadil sailed and rowed against the current of the Northwest’s two most important salmon and steelhead rivers in an attempt to raise awareness of their dwindling stocks of anadromous fish, finishing the journey in just 28 days.
“I was surprised to get there so quickly,” said Sadil. “After a week of rowing and slow sailing in 100-degree heat in eastern Oregon, the west wind finally started blowing through the Wallula Gap and didn’t stop until I reached Idaho.”
Sadil travelled 146 miles from the mouth of the Snake River near Pasco, Washington, to Lewiston in just four days, passing through the locks at Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite dams.
“The dams remained the most significant challenge along the way,” said Sadil. “The lockmaster at each one wanted to turn me away because Tia doesn’t have a motor. While trying to hold steady in wind and shifting currents, I negotiated calls to senior personel to get an okay to lock through.”
At Little Goose Dam, Sadil was told to return the next morning to lock through with an assist vessel. With no choice but to cross the river to the nearest camping area, Sadil rowed in 20-mph crosswinds through roiling currents and three-foot waves directly below the dam’s open spillways.
“All of this because policy states it isn’t safe for me to lock through without a motor,” said Sadil. “Ironically, the assist vessel I tied up to in the morning was the tugboat and barge used to transport juvenile salmonids downstream past all the dams to the tidewater below Bonneville.”
Author of four books and countless stories, essays, and feature articles in which the sport of fly fishing often plays a significant role, Sadil intends to write about questions regarding the health of the lower Columbia and Snake rivers, along with their diminished salmonid runs, on his return home to Hood River, Oregon.