Summer is right around the corner! It’s going to be outdoor adventure time soon. Have you been thinking about taking your family on an adventure that might need some professional guidance? If so, I would like to introduce you to Harry Apelbaum, outdoor enthusiast and co-founder of Cascadia Expeditions (Facebook too!). Harry and co-founder Brett Gallagher have assembled a top-notch crew to provide climbing and rafting adventures in the Pacific Northwest. If your family is interested in a fully guided trip, either single day or multi-day, read on and learn more about Harry and Cascadia Expeditions. Also, please take a moment to respond to our quick poll at the end of the interview!
PFA: Harry, please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got Cascadia Expeditions started.
I grew up fishing and playing outside in the Midwest and loved every second. I moved west when I turned 18 and spent many years working for different organizations and Wilderness Programs. I have amazing memories taking kids rafting, climbing, backpacking, surfing, and mountain biking for weeks at a time.
Unfortunately, the most recent program I worked for had to close their doors a few years back. Selfishly though, there was a silver lining and I was presented with an opportunity to purchase a good amount of liquidated gear. Brett and I were both working as supervisors at the time and we couldn’t resist the challenge to start our own program that fell in line with our biggest values. And so it began. I emptied my savings account, convinced my partner Jennie it wasn’t a horrible idea, and went for it! Although I’ve wanted to disappear to a tropical island at times, I have not regretted one moment thus far.
PFA: Describe some of the trips that Cascadia has put together in the past? What is on the calendar for this coming summer?
We run trips for various non-profit organizations and private groups. Last year our most exciting outings were rafting on the Deschutes, Clackamas, North Santiam and Grande Ronde Rivers. We also took a group of homeless youth rock climbing near Portland and took another group of kids climbing outside of Corvallis. Another favorite was an all-women rafting campout that was an absolute shindig!
This summer we are offering open-enrollment trips for families and anyone interested in getting outdoors. We have whitewater rafting trips, combo adventures, and specialty adventures such as Twilight floats on the Sandy River and yoga/rafting adventures.
PFA: How can you ensure family safety on these trips? What type of certifications do you have to do this type of work?
Adventure activities inherently possess risk. But with proper training and experience, the risk can be reduced substantially. All our guides are trained in First Aid and CPR and our lead guides are certified as Wilderness First Responders, an extensive 10-day medical certification. Our lead river guides have Swift-water Rescue certifications. Brett and I are risk managers and safety is our number one priority. And we offer everything from heart pounding class IV rapids on the Klamath River to mellow floats on the Sandy. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about safety or risk.
PFA: If people are a bit timid about going rafting, what trip do you suggest? What river trip do you suggest if they want to kick it up a notch?
The Clackamas and Sandy rivers offer mellow scenic day floats in nature. The John Day and Grande Ronde Rivers offer mellow multi-day floats. The North Santiam and Deschutes are a step above—there are some really adventurous and fun rapids, but nothing too extreme. Both are great for kids due to a higher “perceived risk”, but pretty low “actual risk”. And the Klamath River in Northern California has bigger rapids and can be done in 3-5 days.
PFA: Are you able to customize a trip if a couple of families wanted to go together? What would that process look like?
Absolutely! Depending on the adventure, we have certain minimums, but we really love doing this! After we hear your needs and what you’re excited about we’ll write up a proposal that outlines all the details. We will work with you in person and over the phone to make sure you are getting what you expect.
PFA: What is a good age to introduce kids to climbing and/or rafting?
I think kids can climb or raft when they can walk! But, for the sake of our adventures, it really just depends. I’ve seen 6 year olds have a great time and I’ve seen 15 year olds hate it. We recommend your kids are at least able to not go crazy being in a raft for a few hours (for your sake, not ours!). And for class III and above rivers, I recommend your kids are at least 10 years old and aren’t absolutely terrified of water. That being said, we can always put together a mellow float for anyone! For climbing, it really depends on how much adrenaline your kids enjoy. I’ve been climbing with very little kids who love it and been climbing with teenagers that get bored or terrified. As a general recommendation, I think 8 year olds are old enough to enjoy being up high on the rocks. Overall, please call us to discuss this if you aren’t quite sure. We’re happy to help, even if you aren’t coming on a trip with us.
PFA: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Cascadia Expeditions?
We are very open owners, so please don’t hold back with any questions at all. We are here to help you decide which adventure is right for your family, if any. You can view upcoming trips and us at www.CascadiaExpeditions.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Cascadiaexpeditions. I hope to see you out there! And enjoy whatever adventures you and your family take on this summer!
What’s to Love: Adventure doesn’t always have to be something wild and crazy. Sometimes, we simply have to use our collective imagination. With so much attention on media, video games, and electronics, I’m wondering if anyone out there is into board/card games anymore. You know, the games that come in boxes, have a cardboard playing surface with some snazzy artwork, playing pieces, dice, and rules no one ever wants to read. Do you remember these relics of our childhood years?Read More
What’s to Love: I recently asked for a sledding recommendation on the Portland Family Adventures’ Facebook page. White River Snowpark, located about 6 miles north of Government Camp on Hwy 35, was the unanimous winner! With such accolades, I had to go check it out with my family – we were not disappointed. While many great areas exist for sledding, hiking and/or snowshoeing in winter, this may be the best of the best.Read More
What’s to Love: Do you want a private golfing experience MINUS the private club? Eagle Landing Golf Course has a beautiful public facility featuring 36 holes (two 18-hole courses!) of the best, and most picturesque, miniature golf in Portland. Couple that with 27 holes of stellar par-three-golf, and you have an outing that is just right for the whole family.Read More
Bouldering is an incredible sport for kids! It builds confidence and tremendous strength all the way to the core of the body. As many of you know, my older son Rhys (age 9) is on The Circuit’s competitive climbing team “The Circuit Breakers.” To learn more about The Circuit, read my original post here.
Last year, the competitive team had six members qualify for the American Bouldering Series (ABS) National Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado! One team member received a 4th place finish, and another member was the National Champion!!! The Circuit has one of the top teams in the country. Here is a video of the highlights from Nationals.
How did the Circuit team get so good? I feel it’s mainly due to excellent coaching and committed parents and climbers. Another reason is early exposure to climbing via low-stakes (HIGH FUN) climbing clubs and camps at The Circuit. These happen throughout the year, but I wanted to draw your attention to The Circuit’s upcoming “Fall Kids Club.”
There are several options for enrollment. Either click the flyer picture above or click here for more information. The clubs are a great way to see if bouldering is a good fit for you child. Perhaps, they are already climbing the walls at home anyway!
Here is a short clip of my kids climbing at The Circuit:
What’s to Love: As stated on their website, “The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge was established (along with 3 other refuges in the Willamette Valley of Oregon) in 1965, in response to a need to establish vital winter habitat for wintering waterfowl with an emphasis on the dusky Canada goose whose nesting areas in Alaska were severely impacted by the violent earthquake of 1964. Ridgefield Refuge is currently approximately 5,300 acres of marshes, grasslands and woodlands.” This Refuge is a must do for young hikers who might enjoy bird watching.Read More
What’s to Love: Vancouver Lake Park is one of my new favorite spots. Unfortunately, it took me eight years to make it over the bridge for a visit. I was impressed with the entire park: clean, nice green space, picnic spots, grills, biking, and swimming. Plus, there was no day-use-fee! While summer lasts, make sure to include this on your tick list.Read More
What’s to Love: Simply stated, this is one of the nicest bowling alleys you’ll ever visit in the greater Portland area. I haven’t been to all of them, but Grand Central is head and shoulders above most of the ones I’ve visited. Your family will certainly enjoy the leather couches, tables and food service right at your lane, upstairs game room, and cleanliness of the entire establishment.Read More
What’s to Love: Milo McIver State Park is located along the Clackamas River and is only about 30 miles from Portland. For being so close to Portland, it has an “off-the-beaten-path” feel to it. There are some nice picnic areas with grills and plenty of camping, but it’s the disc golf (27 holes) that makes the park a prime destination for the whole family.Read More
What’s to Love: Feel like riding some sweet trails with the family? The Sandy Ridge Trail System offers approximately 15 miles of prime mountain biking in a beautiful setting. The entire trail system is relatively new, and while hiking is allowed, the trails were designed primarily for mountain biking. Most of the trails fall under the “intermediate” or “advanced” category, but I can recommend two options for beginning-level riders.Read More