Sunday, August 19, 2012

Deschutes River 2012

Once again Emily and I were able to join our rafting friends on a fun 2 day trip down the Deschutes River in Central Oregon.  Sarah and Bryan organized the entire trip as usual and everything went off without a hitch.  We didn’t even end up with the usual crazy girl, despite the fact that we had a group of 29 people!  

Emily and I met up with Bryan and his monster van along with others at the Fred Meyer in Sandy, OR, only about an hour from our place in Ridgefield, WA.  We had time to stop for drinks and croakies at REI on the way and grabbed some quick McDonalds for dinner.  There we met up with Ian, Coleen, Sarah, Nicole, Cody, Bryan and his brother, Martin and his new girlfriend Shannon (who we all love now), Cristina, Chris, and all the others.  It became apparent to a few of us that it didn’t look like there was going to be enough room for everyone and sure enough.. there wasn’t.  We had only paid for the shuttle service to shuttle Bryan’s Van and two other vehicles so we had to just make it work.  This meant 7 people in Ian’s crew-cab truck, 18 people in Bryan’s Van and the rest in another truck.  Bryan’s van is big... but 18 people was just ridiculous.  Thankfully, we didn’t have too long of a drive to get to Warm Springs where we would put in.  

Friday night most of us stood up for a while to enjoy some drinks and catch up with friends we hadn’t seen in a very long time.  The stars were out in full effect and I regretted not having a DSLR with me as the Milky Way was really bright.  When we all had enough and headed to bed around 2am the whole campsite was awoken by Carl who screaming “Iaaaan.... You’re lights are ooonnnn”... which then became the quote for the rest of the trip.  Apparently Ian had left his high beams on and someone had opened the door to try to turn them off and ended up breaking them so that there was no way to turn them off.  Bryan of course swiftly jumped into action and by the morning they had come up with a temporary fix (taking out the fuse) but sadly, it left Ian with a broken truck that he would have to take to work on a long drive Sunday after the trip.

On Saturday morning after a leisurely breakfast we hit the river just past noon for our trip.  Emily and I joined Nicole on her bright orange Beaver Raft for it’s maiden voyage along with Coleen, Ian, Cristina and Chris.  Even though the forecast called for 95 degrees and sunshine we found ourselves pretty frigid under a cloudy sky with a temp around 65-70 for the majority of the day.  Thankfully, we had plenty of wine, beer and mixed cocktails in nalgene bottles to keep us all plenty warm as we made our way down the river.  Michael was in an IK and Chris and Cristina also were sharing one off and on with Niki and others.  At one point in the day I joined Niki in the back of the kayak for some paddling and found that a whole bag of peanuts had exploded.  This then led to me hurling peanuts at everyone on the rafts for quite some time.  I think I actually nailed everyone on our trip with at least one nut.  

It was 2pm before the sun started to break through the clouds and the smoke from the fire raging on the side of Mt. Jefferson to our south.  This worked out perfectly as we soon found ourselves once again at the cliff jumping rock on the side of the river.  Having made friends with Maddy and Guy (two Army guys from Seattle) I was super stoked to see them get the courage to go up and jump of the rocks.  Although, being in the Army I’m sure it didn’t take much).  I of course had to pull of something stupid so I went for a really sloppy looking front flip.  Every year these things look higher and higher to me when I stand on the edge....

We then found ourselves floating through some really beautiful stretches of river with crazy rock monoliths in the middle of the waterway and rolling, terraced hills on the sides.  Trains often passed us and with some encouragement we got them to blast their horns for us.  A football was brought out and our raftzilla accidentally consumed a family on another raft into tossing the football around which the kids on that raft absolutely loved.  Throughout the entire day we had ospreys circling the air around us and hooded merganser ducks on the water with us.  We even got to see two river otters running along the shore which was a first for me in the wild.

At around 5:30 we pulled over to the side at what looked like a pretty sweet campsite but Ian and Coleen suggested we keep going as the sun had just really started to come out and everyone was enjoying it.  Sarah seemed to know that we should pull over for the night here but no one really wanted to listen to her so we continued onward.  This decision turned out to be the root of a lot of conflict over the next few hours as we continually passed camp grounds that were completely filled and we had 29 people to park somewhere.  Eventually, Cody and a few others spotted a good place on the side of the river finally past all the private land sections and we pulled out for the night.  It wasn’t a designated campsite and the bathroom was literally half a mile away but it worked alright.  

When we got to camp Emily was hilariously drunk.  Being sweet Emily, she had taken it upon herself to urge everyone to have a few more drinks and stop arguing while we were searching for spots form the river.  Unfortunately for her, everyone kept arguing while she kept drinking.  This led to a very talkative Emily and a good laugh for me while watching it all unfold.  Back at camp she moved our tent about 10 times before happy with it’s position and began directing others to sites she deemed appropriate for them... Cody and Martin and I all had a good show of watching her try to put her sleeping bag in her sleeping bag for about 10 minutes and several hilarious failed attempts.  15 minutes later at about 8pm she was passed out her bag in the tent with a pillow with a little help from me.  

I ended up having some of the worst heart burn of my life on Saturday night and found the only way to feel better was to get it out which helped a bunch.  The tacos and Mexican spices for dinner certainly didn’t help me but Cody was nice enough to find me a big glass of milk which helped a bunch.  Instead of staying up late again I decided to hit the hay with Em at around 9:30 and to my surprise the entire camp site was quiet by 10pm.... I’ve never seen this happen on a trip like this before.... could it be because Ben wasn’t here this time.....

On Sunday Bryan and Sarah woke up early to cook us all an amazing breakfast of pancakes with fruit, yogurt, eggs, bacon and sausage which I ate a bunch of because I barely had dinner the night before.  We got on the river just before 11 am after everyone had made their own personal spirit quest to the bathroom up stream.  I didn’t make it that far the night before....  Sunday was absolutely beautiful out and everyone was in their swim trunks and bikinis.  I saved my energy drink/grape vodka until Sunday (btw.. threw a rock the night before while setting up the tent and the darn rock landed on both cans somehow puncturing both - but I saved the majority of the Rockstar).   I had some help with it but managed to kill most of it myself by early afternoon.  When we got to the Maupin City Park it was packed so we simply floated by.

We all had a great lunch on the side of the river when we got to the tributary for the underwater slide.  By then I was having a great time and “helped” everyone to get over their fear of the flume by “assisting” them into the water myself... I think I went through the flume about 10 times and on several occasions stayed underwater long enough to grab at people’s feet as they came through.  After we all had our turns we headed back towards our boats on the side of the Deschutes.  Maddy, Guy and I tried to float down the very shallow stream back to the main channel but after about 5 minutes of getting slammed by the rocks into my knees and butt I gave up.  How 250lb+, 6’ tall Maddy ever made it all the back down the stream I’ll never know.  

Thankfully, this year we didn’t lose anyone at the slide and everyone made it safely to the take out at Sandy beach just past Maupin.  Everyone was able to get the gear loaded up really fast and it was a quick ride back to Sandy, mostly because I slept the whole way.  Back in Sandy, Emily and I said goodbye to everyone, I promised to Facebook stalk the group and we headed home.  Once again it was a fantastic trip down the Deschutes and it couldn’t have happened with the incredible effort of Sarah and the resources of Bryan and the other rafters.  Can’t wait till next year!

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