2011 Spring Break Lower Deschutes Trip
March 19, 2011 at 10:00 AM
2011 March Lower Deschutes Trip
By Scott Ogren
The weather forecast called for a small chance of showers for each of the three days our trip on the Lower Deschutes River was scheduled. All we kept saying on the trip was the weather forecasters missed this one…bad.
In total, there were 14 people on the trip. Nine adults and five kids went along on a trip that was filled with fast water, rain and a lot of wild life sightings. We saw big horned sheep in several places, deer, several eagles and other birds, and even a mink scurrying along the river bank.
With the flow at the Moody gauge reading about 8200 cfs just before I left my house the morning we launched, I knew there would be enough water to push us down the river. Sure enough, we made it from Buck Hollow to Beaver Tail in about two hours. It wasn’t too long after we got into camp when we realized we might have a little more rain than what was forecast.
Most of the evening was dry with an occasional shower. It wasn’t until later in the evening when we got our first downpour of the trip that we knew things were off a little. It kept raining and raining and raining. Then in the morning, it rained some more. It rained so much that we decided to just hang out in camp under the tarp to see if we would get a break from the rain so we could float without getting rained on.
By mid morning we got our chance to quickly break camp and head downstream. We finally left camp just a few minutes before noon bound for Airstrip. The already high flow combined with all of the rain pushed the flow up to about 8500 cfs, and that meant we were doing about 5.5 mph drifting without doing any rowing. So, despite the late start we still got to Airstrip at about 3:00.
When we got camp all set up, the skies cleared and our tents even dried out. Until the next rain shower, that is. But, by the time it got dark there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the star gazing was incredible. We looked at constellations and satellites for a short while before turning in – it was getting cold fast and the best place to be was in your sleeping bag.
The next morning was nice – no rain and the temperature was warm. It was going to be a good day on the river. One thing about the Lower Deschutes river is other that one class III rapid about 45 minutes after launching from the put-in at Buck Hollow, all of the class III rapids are in the last 10 miles of the trip. That means it’s a good river to take someone who is learning how to row. They get a few days to get the hang of it before hitting the big water…and even Wreck Rapids at the beginning of the trip is pretty straight forward.
At the higher than normal flows we had for our trip, the rapids were not difficult at all. The eddy lines at Washout and Rattle Snake rapids were gone and the big hole at Colorado was not much more than a class II wave train. The rest of the rapids were very easy as well. The sneak routes through Gordon Ridge were river wide and if you wanted to miss the wave train at Jet Pump you could have – the gravel bar that forces you into the rapid was under about 2 feet of water. In other words, this river gets pretty easy at high flows.
Other than the weather being a little colder and wetter than we expected, this was a great trip. Easy floating, the rapids were easy and good company are some of the ingredients of a great river trip. We are lucky to have such good access to a great river run.