The Wild Is So Close

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. January 2020

Historically, “It’s the Water” was the slogan that heralded a beer brewed at the Tumwater/Olympia border in the 1800s. It had a long history, and some new owners, and things changed. Then it was sold and lay fallow for years. A disastrous spill of toxic oil from a thieving incident a year or so ago caused much damage to the Deschutes River that runs beside it. That has been cleaned and the walkway along the river on both sides is once again open to the public to walk and enjoy a little wild in the midst of city streets and freeway. This area was deeded to the city long ago, so it isn’t in the park system.

In November, we see Washington’s most rainfall of the year. This past November caused much concern among weather reporters and the public in general when it remained dry but for little sprinkles. But then came December with a big rain incident that caused the river to run full spate. We have loved the access to that river since arriving here in 2013 at Panorama. It is a fifteen-minute drive from our front door. And what a wild place.

It is the site of a fish hatchery that worked with salmon that came up the Deschutes for years. Now that fish hatchery is being updated and completely redone. Fish ladders run along the western side of the river to aid returning salmon up over the falls.

Fast forward to this month of January when another 4+ inch rain filled that watershed and river and what a flow! Panorama offered two outings, a day apart, for lunch at the restaurant that overlooks the river and falls, and a walk along the roaring river. This was truly a wild run

The view from the restaurant
One of the three bridges that span the river
Interpretive signs & displays are helpful to learn of the area’s history. There is also a native planting area that volunteers are trying to restore along the western side.
The padlocks are a new thing to us who have moved here from parts south. These proclaim undying love by those who wish & secure them. This view across from the eastern side looks to the fish hatchery that is being redone & should be ready by next fall’s salmon run.

No one can say that Panorama residents aren’t plucky!!! We often make quite a sight in our weather gear, and often look like dyed Easter eggs! We had some wind, some rain and it was quite cold, but nothing like the previous day’s outing that was brutal by all accounts. We enjoyed learning much history during lunch provided by Steve, who leads such fine outings for us.

We never really understood when relocating here to the Northwest that there would be such accessible wild areas so very close to us. It takes so little effort to get out and enjoy the environment. All seasons are special, but this raging river provided a wonderful day in our Olympia/Tumwater area in the dead of winter.

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