Sunday, July 15, 2007

Running the Deschutes

Before arriving in Bend, we were fairly certain that Uncle George would want to take our fragile little former preemie whitewater kayaking on the Deschutes River. We were equally sure we were not going to let it happen. "Maybe on a nice calm lake," we told ourselves, "but certainly not on the Deschutes." I remembered running a stretch of that wild and beautiful river with George a few years ago, and feeling quite lucky that, in his phrase, I didn't "join the swimming team."

So how did these reasonably protective parents and their son end up, one fine Saturday morning, with a small squadron of kayaks on the west bank of the Deschutes?

Well, George had convinced us that this stretch of the river was as flat and gentle as can be, with only a 1 mph current and scarcely a ripple on the surface. Plus, he demonstrated how easy it was:

We weren't sure whether to believe all of George's claims, but my very credible cousin Martin vouched for the story.

And so we were off! Lisa and I loaded Miles into a double kayak and set off on our first family paddling adventure.

Our resident Bend friends Christen and Christian and their son Chance joined the excursion as well.

Miles cooperated admirably, staying out of the sun and keeping on-board gyrations to an absolute minimum.

George proved an excellent and (in this case) accurate guide. We paddled upstream for an hour and then returned to our base, never encountering a stretch of river that was not as smooth as glass. Contrary to his normal practice on the ski slopes, George even stopped occasionally to wait for us to catch up.

Only after we had safely returned to shore did Miles touch the refreshing waters of the river.

"Kayaking on the Deschutes?" he says. "Been there, done that."

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