Climbing has Everest. Surfing has the North Shore of Oahu. Skiing has the remote peaks of Alaska. But for whitewater kayakers, there’s no better playground than Hood River, a little town on the edge of the Colombia River that separates Oregon from Washington. The hills nearby are some of most rain-drenched in the world, and their gorgeous watersheds feed the raging creeks and rivers below. Within 20 minutes of Hood River there are more than five high-quality drainages that contain some of the most incredible whitewater kayaking runs in the world.
Not surprisingly, this makes Hood River a Mecca for the world’s top kayaking talent. But it takes a special breed to want to jump into ice-cold water in the morning. Canoe & Kayak magazine contributor Joe Jackson took a trip up there to meet up with Christie Eastman, one of many local standouts. He got a little more than he bargained for.