To the head of navigation on Spokane Arm

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Blue Creek to Little Falls, Return to Porcupine Bay Campground

36 miles cruised today; 85 mile total for the trip

Houseboat with speedboat in tow, on fire damaged Spokane Arm
Bank swallow nest cavities, Spokane Arm

Bright sun greets us first thing. We watch 3 deer cross the hillside while we take breakfast. Anchor is up at 9am, and we’re off for a sightseeing excursion to the head of navigation on the Spokane Arm, 17 miles uplake to the Little Falls dam and power station. The expansive waters of Porcupine Bay soon constrict into a fairly narrow, straight channel. A steeply sloping sand bluff forms the south shore, in contrast with the steep, rocky hills on the north side. The scattered pines show evidence of having experienced fire within the past 15 or 20 years, and as we travel further up the arm, fire impact of varying intensity on both sides of the water becomes apparent. A colorful bunch of wild turkeys climbs the hillside, and large colonies of bank swallows pockhole the sheer sand banks, whenever they’re suitable for next excavation. The water widens

Nearing the head of Spokane Arm

out and narrows a couple of times before pinching down into a narrow canyon for the last 5 or 6 miles. As we near the head of navigation we start encountering a bit of current. Rounding a bend, the powerhouse finally comes into view. We ease over into a shallow bay just off the main channel and I lower the anchor, in 10 feet of water. The bottom is bouldery, so I gently set the anchor onto the bottom and let out all of my chain. I make no attempt to set the anchor, relying instead on just the weight of anchor and chain, along with vigilance while we relax and eat our lunch.

Little Falls powerhouse, head of navigation on Spokane Arm

After lunch I try a few casts, with no luck. Time to pull in the anchor and return the way we came. I’m surprised to see the effect of current last for several miles, as evidenced in the speed we make at the same rpm used going up. Around 4pm we reach Porcupine Bay campground, which is nicely served with a boat ramp and tie up docks. The finger piers are only 20 feet in length, so we stick out a bit, but nonetheless, I’m able to get the boat securely tied up. Just enough time for a rum and coke and a quick dip at the swimming beach before we fix dinner. After cleanup, we go for an hour long walk, out on the main road. Our turn around point is the site of a major landslide. The reconstructed retaining wall and highway affords a nice view.

Overview of Spokane Arm near Porcupine Bay

We plan to stay the night at the dock. Boaters here don’t seem to understand reducing wakes near docks, so we get rocked by the few boats returning to the ramp or passing by. Fortunately, boating traffic is way down, and I expect that things will completely die down as dusk settles in.

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