For Thanksgiving we decided to yet again head for the water. Last year you may remember our packrafting trip on the North Fork of the John Day River, it was complete with Turkey and pie and dropping water levels.
The year before we rafted the Lower Deschutes River from Warm Springs to Maupin, and we decided to complete the journey and raft from Maupin (for those familiar with the area we actually put on below Shears Falls at Buck Hollow) to the Columbia River.
As two years before, we were joined by two good thru-hiking friends, Speed Stick (Mary) and Luigi (John). Instead of all piling on one raft this year, Kirk and I decided to borrow a friend's Super Puma.
|That is one sexy boat.|
We had been talking about getting one of these bad boys...for many reasons. One, together we could boat some bigger water than I'd like to solo boat...Kirk started out the pitch by showing me people R2ing waterfalls and Class V water. I would love to boat more stuff like that, but don't know if my packrafting skills will progress to that level (or if I want them too...) but with Kirk in the boat directing our paddle strokes I could see us running A LOT more stuff. Two, we could outfit this boat for longer trips and even set it up as a mini oar-rig. (And we probably wouldn't have to carry other people's stuff!). Three, we only have a 14' bucket boat right now. Four, this can go creeking!
We put on the river at Buck Hollow, approximately 40 river miles from the Columbia River. We had a 10 lb turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, green beans, rolls, wine and enough beer to float us for the next four days. Mary was watching Bella, our friend's black lab, so she came along for the ride.
|Beer and dogs make good companions on the river.|
That morning we dropped into the Deschutes River canyon amid a freezing fog...once the sun hit us we warmed up a bit, but the air was cold and our late fall sun didn't break through the thousands of feet of canyon walls very often.
|At noon we still didn't have much sun in the canyon.|
|Frozen waterfalls marked our way.|
We made camp the first night and set to work heating up the Turkey and fix'ns. YUM.
|Mary and John dig in.|
|Thats the stuff!|
We woke to a bitter cold morning, everything was frozen and putting on the water when the sun was still behind the canyon walls wasn't an exciting prospect. But, we donned dry suits and sipped hot coffee and it got better.
Our float was fairly mellow. Most of the rapids of Class II & III would be the following two days, so we floated along and enjoyed the sponsored goods Mary brought (she is the only girl I know sponsored by BEER. Thanks to Hop Valley out of Eugene, OR we had plenty of bevys all weekend.)
|The impressive canyon continues|
|Hop Valley Rocks!|
Camp the second night was a cozy affair, a fire kept us warm into the darkness, but the temps were warmer than the night before and all were happier for it.
We cooked up a pound of bacon and a dozen eggs in the morning to get us fueled up for another chilly day on the water.
|Camping in the kitchen is only a good idea if you are an early riser....|
More boating, more water. Kirk and I were enjoying the R2ing in the Super Puma....getting closer to wanting one of our own.
|Super Puma on the move.|
|We were the only boats on the river.|
|Toasting a great trip.|
Our last camp was a bumpy burned-out affair, a fire this year left much of the lower river corridor scorched.
|The only flat spot around.|
Our final day saw a few rapids and I have to say, the Super Puma did quite well. We'll be seriously thinking about this boat in the future.
The terrain got milder and we started to see the wind mills that trademark much of the Columbia Gorge today.
|The canyon gets milder.|
We took out about noon and finished with cold turkey sandwiches. Yet another awesome river trip with good friends.
Super Puma in our future? I hope so.