The Argo Cascades: Wild Ride
they've heard nothing but overwhelming praise for the attraction--a wild, wet ride through nine narrow drops that takes paddlers from Argo Pond down to the main river stem just upstream of the Broadway Bridges.
"It's absolutely transformed the river," Saam enthuses, noting that many users haul their vessels back up to repeat the ride. On summer weekends, the Cascades are jam-packed. Cyclists wheel by on the newly paved Border-to-Border Trail, sunbathers loll on the promontories, and kayaks and tubes shoot the rapids like bumper cars on an extended water slide. The city is bracing for even more visitors this year, beefing up livery staff, buying more kayaks, and adding forty new parking spots off Longshore Drive.
On an afternoon in early May, a couple of pairs of twenty-something kayakers work their way downstream. Strong crosscurrents sometimes push their vessels sideways or spin them around. The paddlers work hard to steer nose first through the narrow drops, sometimes crashing into the rock abutments.
Watching them, Michael Hood shakes his head in dismay. Hood is a trained wilderness first responder who runs rock-climbing and canoe trips with his company, Vertical Ventures. He's also consulted for government and private business on risk management. Hood, who walks the trail by the Cascades frequently, calls the watercourse a "carnival ride" and an "attractive nuisance"--and warns it's a disaster waiting to happen.