Thursday, September 20, 2007

Back country on the DeSchutes river

Early Friday morning on September the 14th we left the McKenzie River Inn for a three day private float on the DeSchutes. After seeing our first sign of wildlife, a (blond) black bear, just before Olallie Campground we ate breakfast at my favorite restaurant "The Gallery" in the little town of Sisters. We enjoyed breakfast and met with Ken, son of Don Hill the boat-builder from Springfield, who would join us for our adventure.
Cody was still a sleep in my Subaru when we headed out for the Bitter Brush Ranch 25 miles east from Sisters. Darrell, the owner, ensured us to do the turn around, since we had to cover 43 (river-) miles from Mecca Flat to the take out in Maupin. After showing us around on his 17.000 or so acres of high desert land with a drop dead cliff and gorgeous river frontage around Frog Spring, we headed back to Mecca Flat for take off.
Everything went smooth. William did an excellent job for putting this together, thanks Bill!
With two rafts, a fourteen feet NRS with paddle-assist and being the cargo-boat and a sixteen feet cataraft and a total of six passengers we made our journey to our first camp for an overnight sensation at Whiskey Dick (see picture above). William cooked us a wonderful meal and after the clean up we all gathered together to evaluate the first day's drift. Although non of us came to it, the fishing looked pretty good that evening. After more socializing we went to bed early. I shared the tent with Joe who, compared to the rest of the crew, was fairly new to river travel.
When I opened the tent the next morning I saw the full glory of the high desert mountain-range (see picture above), Joe and William were already preparing breakfast. One of the highlights (after a great breakfast) that day would be negotiating White Horse, a class IV rapid. From a scouting rock we received instructions from William ("this is a five stroke rapid") and saw several vessels going through this impressive water-mass. Ron left no doubt that he was here before and in a classic formula maneuver brought the sixteen foot cataraft to an inch from the first can opener (a sharp rock just above the water surface). All enjoyed the excitement and felt the adrenaline and made ourselves up for an other great day on the DeSchutes.
Camp for the second night was made at Rainbow Bend. It gave us an opportunity to fish and relax and to go over the ins and outs of being a river guide and floating a river like the DeSchutes. William and I caught some trout, but as always, ...the big one got away!
A strong wind made it extremely difficult to keep a straight line on the third day, but the weather couldn't have been better. Some excitement was there when Ron parked his cataraft on the twin rocks in the tail end of Boxcar Rapids. Professionally and without panic and with a little help from gravity we were able to slide between the rocks, we smiled ...and made our exit.
It was at the take out in Maupin when rain made it's entry and for all of us that was okay, we had three day's of learning and expanding our skills, to hang out together as a group and above all ......having fun! It was a great (long) weekend for all of us,
Thanks to all of you guy's and especially William to make this trip a success!