“Hey, Tom! How has the week been?”
“Girl, I love your new swimsuit! Where are you guys headed after paddling?”
And so the conversations continued, swirling around me in a vortex of water, paddles, boards and beauty.
Somehow people had bottled all the laid back, relaxing, and positive energy of a local surfing scene and dumped in the middle of the mountains with Mt. Bachelor looking over us.
Deschute River, OR
As far as I can tell, being the visitor, the Deschutes River is like the local coffee shop. (Though I am sure there are many awesome places to pick up a cup of joe.) It is Saturday morning. Some friends are out for their weekly paddle boarding session. Groups of teenagers are out for a lesson, trying to look relaxed, but the water is a little too cold for that. Parents and kids are playing at shore. And for the first time in two weeks, we aren’t the only people with their kids along for the ride. Oh, and don’t forget the inner tubes dotting the river.
You don’t join the urban paddling crowd in Bend for solitude. But nonetheless it is an awesome experience. I rolled out our Hang Ten Board, inflated it and stowed the backpack/inflating tools, life jacket and water bottle on the front. Just make sure you know how to maneuver your board around people, bridges, and other obstacles…like these buoys that mark an upcoming spill way.
I started at Farewell Bend Park just a little upstream on the opposite shore just under the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge. Another great place is Riverbend Park just downstream and across the river. I then floated, paddled and played under bridges, around people and even briefly up steam. There were waterside bar-b-ques, SUP clinics galore and a fun section of river where I found myself paddling 20 feet from a Gap and American Eagle.
I finally exiting the river right above the required portage at the Colorado Bridge. You can continue downstream after the portage but our time was limited. And honestly, while the portage around the spillway is well maintained, it was longer than I would have expected. I could have (though not enjoyed) toting the board by myself to the next put-in.