I meet up with some paddling friends on June 18, 2015, for three days of paddling in central Oregon, specifically Bend and the surrounding area. I can’t go to Bend without first stopping at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe situated on the banks of the Deschutes River. I want to check out the store and pick up any guides they have to paddling the region and add them to a file box I maintain of Oregon paddling guides and information. I carry this box with me so I can provide new paddlers with information about where the best paddling in Oregon is located.
It is at Tumalo where I bump into friends from Kayak Portland and decide to paddle the stretch of the Deschutes River that flows through the heart of Bend with them. We put in at the small boat dock at Tumalo Creek. There’s no place to tie off my canoe, but I only have to walk a few feet to grab my camera gear, and the current by the dock doesn’t look too fast. In the few seconds my back is turned, my canoe has drifted 20 feet from the dock and is heading downriver with my unsuspecting dog looking at me. Fortunately, the river is busy, and someone from Tumalo Creek races out to retrieve my canoe. Chloe seems oblivious to how close she came going down some rapids.
Once in my boat, I paddle upriver with my friends Richard and Chris and others from Kayak Portland to a set of rapids. Several of us play in the swift current while others in the group snack and talk. Paddling in the rapids brings back memories of canoeing the Shenandoah River back in the ‘70s. I want to go farther up the river so I can run the full set of rapids, but I see no way along the bank to get upriver.
While not in the wilderness, this stretch of the Deschutes is interesting because it flows past boutique stores and nice restaurants. REI’s Bend store is located in a shopping complex next to the river. Several footbridges span the river, allowing people to get over to the Les Schwab Amphitheater on the other side of the river, where on summer nights paddlers can anchor out in the Deschutes and listen to popular bands.
Despite being in the heart of Bend, paddlers can still spot wildlife, both the four-and two-legged kinds. Dozens of people float by on inner tubes and air mattresses of all shapes and sizes, and this stretch of the river is popular with stand-up paddleboarders. Seeing all these people on the river on a Thursday at 3 p.m. gets me to wondering—doesn’t anybody in Bend have to work on Thursdays? Some people should exercise common sense when deciding whether or not to wear a bikini, because some women I observe clearly don’t look good in one.
We head back to Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe because most of us need to get to our campsites where we’ll be spending the next three nights. I am staying at LaPine State Park.