With Sam’s mom turning 73 last weekend, it presented the opportunity to figure out what special thing we could do to celebrate. This is a woman who jumped out of an airplane when she was 70, back-packed for the first time, in the Jefferson Wilderness for several days (also age 70) and recently got a mountain bike which she rides every day. Since she (Perry) had never been on a multi-day river trip, we decided paddling the lower Deschutes to the Columbia, was the best choice. Exciting! This gave me the opportunity to SUP parts of this trip, putting in at Buck Hollow and taking out at Heritage Landing….jumping on the raft for rapids I was uncomfortable with.
Early Thursday morning, I set out with the Subie packed up, to meet Sam and Perry at Buck Hollow where they’d already arrived and were rigging the boat. Sam’s a rigging master, so it wasn’t long before we were headed downriver–me on a board and Perry in an IK, Sam at the sticks. One piece of info: turns out that my neck which had been giving me considerable pain for weeks was whiplashed. I’d been getting treatment for it, and generally improving, but far from healed. On the other hand, as my PT said “you can be in pain at home or on the river…and I think I know which you’ll choose”. Of course I chose to go but determined to be cautious about what I’d paddle.
The first day we knocked off about 18 miles and much of it I spent on the raft–no reason to over-do and be in more pain. Perry, however, absolutely crushed it on the IK, paddling “Wreck Rapids” (and others) with ease. The weather was perfect, the scenery stunning; it was a great day. The osprey were plentiful, and most we saw had fish in their talons!! Late afternoon, we easily found a campsite and after dinner enjoyed the quintessential riverside experience, lounging around enjoying the beauty around us. During the night, crickets and trains made for a somewhat noisy evening, and the full moon was so bright it felt somewhat like a police interrogation, however it’s still great to sleep outside on the river.
In the morning, after a leisurely coffee/breakfast, skinny-dip in the river and loading our gear, we set out for day two. We seemed to be making really good time, with no specific destination in mind but ended up finding a fabulous campsite next to a surf wave–Jet Pump rapids. Sam surfed, I didn’t. We both napped for about three hours, next to the river on a soft, sandy beach in the shade. Heavenly. This is really the life, and what makes river trips so therapeutic. Fun paddling and heavy on the R & R. Dinner number two was lovely and after such a long nap I was able to stay awake long enough to enjoy the stars.
Morning number two. Coffee. Have I mentioned my passion/addiction to coffee? It’s enhanced on the river. There is something truly special about drinking that perfect cup (or 3) with no distraction from devices or the hustle bustle of normal life. The river, the birds, the fish. Mmmmmmmm. I digress. It was our last day and we’d operated under the assumption we had a really short day to paddle. We took a detour, hiking up to an unmarked location, to see petroglyphs. Pretty awesome! But turns out, we were farther from the take-out than we thought and had a longer day of paddling than anticipated. GREAT! None of us really wanted to be done yet. I was back on the paddleboard and as we got closer to the confluence the wind gusts picked up. I mean A LOT. At one point, I was literally blown off my board. This was entirely unforeseen and I chose to get back on the raft and enjoy the remainder of the trip with Sam rowing. Eventually Perry also sat in the raft…after paddling almost the entire stretch on her IK…what a champ. We arrived together, happy and relaxed, to Heritage Landing.
There’s always the unloading, de-rigging, ammo can cleaning…none of which is extraordinarily fun. However we all pitched in and got it done efficiently. It was a great trip and if you have the means, paddle this stretch. For me, the trip was not just a celebration of Perry’s birthday but an effort to create life balance. It’s not a long drive from Bend (or back). There are permits and shuttles to work out logistically–and to pay for, but taking a step away from work and our crazy, high-stimulus world is important and crucial for peace of mind. I’m happier for it, for sure!
Thanks for listen’….