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Editoria: Windsports make use of unpredictable resource

June 22, 2011

There is clarity to the status of wind sports and their vital importance to Hood River and the Gorge - unlike the waters themselves.

With the sport arriving in the late 1970s and first major windsurfing competitions taking place in the early 1980s, you could say wind sports are now in their second generation.

With that in mind, we welcome visitors to this weekend's big event, Windfest, featuring clinics, live music, a gear demo, a blowout competition and plenty more, based at Hood River Waterfront Park.

For details see the June 18 Hood River News, or go to www.gorgewindsurfing.org.

Also, turn to page A7, where new columnist Katie Crafts presents some illuminating insights from the "windustry." (Have we created a new word?)

Less clarity does exist, however, in the water itself.

One day last week the blue of the Hood River met the brown of the Columbia, in a neat straight line like distinct brush strokes on a watery canvas.

But the colors have since blended, typical as currents and runoff shift and change on a daily basis.

Would that what lies beneath the waters ever stayed distinct or clear. Volume and turbidity reduce the visibility in these beloved rivers, a fact now exacerbated by the 500,000 cfs flow of the Columbia.

The dramatic storm of 2006 caused permanent changes in the Hood River delta and how the land and water interact with the Columbia. That spit we all watched grow and change, season by season, in the years since 2006 is now submerged. You'd never know it was there.

But it is there, and experienced recreationists can tell you that the higher water has made conditions more challenging.

That's one warning to those using the river; if you're visiting Hood River for the first time this year, ask around with the locals about changes in conditions, as well as access for windsurfing and kiting. Windfest itself will provide plenty of local knowledge.

If you're planning a swimming or kayaking outing anytime soon, be prepared for challenging conditions. Remember that the waters are volatile as well as cold. We're talking glacial runoff here.

The river runs through our front yard, so it seems like it ought to be reliable. You like the river, like your neighbors, to be familiar as well as friendly, but sometimes you have to get to know your neighbors after you haven't had much contact with them for awhile.

Considering the changes in recent months, it's time get reacquainted before getting too friendly.

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