Normally, Cottonwood Beach is a haven for kayakers, boaters, picnickers and families looking for a little beach action on the Columbia. I got ready for my first visit by Googling pictures and getting excited about all of the fun things my kiddos and I would be able to do. The boys got their Frisbee and flip-flops, and I got my camera and notepad; and we headed off to beautiful Washougal to check it out.
As we neared the path to the beach, however, we could tell something was wrong. The path ended, not in the sandy expanse we were expecting, but in a large, shallow, somewhat swampy body of water. I made a few inquiries and found out that indeed, the beach was completely under water. “I come here every weekend all summer, and I’ve never seen it this bad,” one boater told me, pointing to his cabin cruiser anchored about 30 feet away. “My boat would be sitting on sand in a normal year,” he added.
My heart sank a little when I realized we wouldn’t have the beach day I’d hoped for. The boys, too, were a little disappointed.
You know who wasn’t disappointed? The kayakers in their brightly colored kayaks, launching into the Columbia, the joggers who ran along the four-mile, gravel, Columbia River Dike trail just outside the park, and even one woman walking alongside her horse.