By Kanako Iwata-Eng
On August 20, Bill P, Bob S, Mary K, Larry G, Scott S and I launched on the Deschutes River from the Trout Creek Campground, near Maupin, Oregon. We were to boat 42 miles over 3 days. As any other multi-day trips, it took us longer to pack and leave in the first morning. We left the camp around 10 am, and the sun was already high and hot. The river was mostly flat at the beginning but moving pretty fast. We soon started noticing squeaking ospreys and their nests on top of the man-made platforms. Some made a minimal nest on the platform, while some built a gigantic mansion using colorful plastic materials.
The Day 1’s highlight was the Whitehorse Rapids, Class 3+. The BLM map described it as “Large rocks, standing waves, turbulent currents make this half mile rapid the most difficult in this section (from Trout Creek Rapids to the Whitehorse Rapids). Scouting is highly recommended.” Larry and Bill, who had done this river in the past, went in and ran it. For our group, I knew it is not hard to read and run, but the rest of us got out on the river right anyway. That way, we can take picture of the entire rapid and may choose the most interesting lines. There were some big waves and wave holes, but all paddled the rapid with no problem.
After the Whitehorse, we started looking for a camp. There were 6 camps in next 4 miles but none for 5 miles after that. We got in and out of the boats a few times but ended up in the Lower Whitehorse camp with a small sandy beach, some trees making shades, flat tent spaces, and a new and clean compost toilet. It stayed hot, over 90 degrees, until the dusk, but it started to be windy at night. The railroad is along the river all the way, and if you set your tent near it, like Bob and Mary, your rest may be disturbed during the night.
On Day 2, we could leave the camp about 9:30 am. It was sunny in the morning, but by the lunch time, it got cloudy. After the lunch, we ran the Buckskin Mary and the Four Chutes rapids with no problem. The map said drinking water is available at the Deschutes Club Gatekeeper’s House, but we were encountered by “No trespassing” signs. We called it a day at the Devil’s Canyon camp around 3 pm. As soon as we each picked a tent site, it started raining. I set up the tent, jumped inside and took a nap. Other people stayed out and eat dinner or snacks. In an hour or two, it stopped raining.
After dinner, Larry started testing his magnesium fire starter. It made lots of sparks but couldn’t start fire. Bill brought out his fire starter with a striker and a flint bar. Probably because of his skills and experience, Bill could start a fire. To help Larry, I pulled out my Vaseline-smeared cotton balls. This time, Larry could start a fire. At the end, I demonstrated my mini torch. It worked without skills or efforts.
Day 3 was nice and sunny. The wet tents dried before the launch. We soon reached the Wapnitia Rapids, Class 3 fun wave train. A little later, another Class 3, Boxcar Rapid came up. At 4200 cfs, it was easy to maneuver around the large rock in the middle. The bottom was very swirly.
We passed a few more miles and finally approached the only Class 4 rapid, Oak Springs. All of us had scouted it from the road on our way to the put-in. The river is divided by a lava rock island. Scott led the group and ran the left channel. Staying on the right edge of the V and turning right at the bottom, they went through it all right. I decided to run the right channel. Hugging the island, avoiding the current descending towards right and creating a deep channel-wide hole, I also ran the rapid uneventfully.
The White River soon came in from the left and the milky water changed the river cloudy. There were a few more fun wave trains until we saw a big red sign telling all boats must exit. That was our take-out, the Sandy Beach, and it was only 11 am. With hugs and smiles, we thanked one another and headed home.