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  • Radford Bean

Bend Paddle Trip - Day 3

I am into the third day of my four-day paddle trip to central Oregon, and this morning I arrive at Sparks Lake. Getting to the lake required driving a mile over an awful dirt road with terrible ruts. It’s a good thing I have a SUV. I’d hate to drive this road in a car. I arrive at the lake and am greeted by my friend Richard. Both he and I are there much earlier than the rest of the people from Kayak Portland. He wants to get some fishing in, and I want to do some photographing and videotape my paddle trip before everyone shows up on the lake.

I set out on the lake, take a couple of pictures of South Sister and Broken Top before heading to the north end of the lake where deer and elk are known to frequent. Unfortunately, I am stopped two-thirds of the way there by shallow water. I wind up getting hung up on the sand and have to get out to move my boat to deeper water. When I step out of my boat, Chloe thinks it’s time for her to get out. She shifts the boat and my camcorder tips over and lands in the water. I quickly retrieve my camcorder but not fast enough. The water has done its damage. Stupid me for not having taken the camcorder off of the tripod before getting out of the canoe. I was too worried about the damage being done to the bottom of my canoe from the gravel in the sand and not thinking about my camcorder. It certainly isn’t Chloe’s fault.

I get my canoe out into deeper water, cursing the low water level, Sparks Lake, and my own stupidity. I begin to question what’s the big draw of Sparks Lake. Sure, you have a commanding view of South Sister, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor, but the later is hardly photogenic because you can see many of its ski runs. Sparks Lake was Ray Atkinson’s favorite lake to photograph. Had he ever been to Hosmer? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course he had.

My camcorder started working for a little bit, so I was able to videotape a little more of my paddle before the camera started really acting up. I left with just photographing the lake.

I meet up with my Kayak Portland friends, and together we explore many of the coves that dot the lake. The lake is busy today with many out paddling. I encounter more canoes on Sparks than I have encountered anywhere else in Oregon, but the lake also has its share of kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders.

I encountered some Canada geese and common mergansers. I even spot a chipmunk close to the water on lava rock, but I don’t see the varied wildlife I saw on Hosmer of the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail. A group of ducklings scurry across the water as a kayaker approaches them. They look so cute. Mom isn’t too far behind.

Supposedly, there is good fishing on Sparks Lake, but I don’t encounter anyone fishing on the lake today. I do encounter Wanderlust Tours conducting one of its canoe trips on Sparks.

I decide to wrap up paddling Sparks. I can’t do anymore videotaping because my camcorder isn’t functioning. Instead, I decide to head over to Crane Prairie Reservoir to see if I have any luck catching large trout that inhabit the reservoir.

I get to Crane Prairie and launch my canoe. However, by the time I get on the lake, the wind decides to pick up. I don’t have an anchor with me because I haven’t been able to replace the one I had to cut loose on Pelican Bay two weeks ago when it got hung up on the rocks, so I am at the mercy of the wind, which is merciless. The wind is blowing so hard that my canoe travels 100 yards in just a few minutes. Disgusted, I decide to head back to shore after only a couple of hours of trying to fish. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll stop off at Clear Lake on my way home to see if I have any luck there. I load the canoe back onto my SUV and head back to the campground.

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