Traveling down dusty roads with three kayaks on the roof and one inside, Peter and I plus two of our children, Parker and Claire head off for the Tenino boat launch just south of the Wickiup Reservoir.
As the river flowed sinuously northward at a steady clip, the banks were steep in places where they were eroded and volcanic sediments were layered in bands of a variety of tans.
There were chipmunks bounding around in their condo-like holes which added to our enjoyment.
Where the banks were not so steeply cut, we were often able to look into the ancient ponderosa pine forest. These magnificent trees often towered over the river and were peppered with ospreys and other hawks, kingfishers, and a variety of song birds. Some of the trees seemed suspended in air with their roots undercut by the river.
Strangely enough, one sharp meander seemed to be the Bend equivalent of a local brewpub, a gathering place for a variety of birds.
While most of the 14 miles was unpopulated, there were places where vacation homes filled the banks. We had fun picking out our favorites and imagining what it would be like to live so close to the water. What a dream fulfilled to be able to put in right from your own dock! Other than at the beginning of our trip, when we saw two fisherman in a drift boat on a marshy meander, the river was ours – no complaints and much surprise on the 93 degree Oregon day!
Since we had put in rather late in the day, the sun’s lower angles created a blanketing golden warmth following us to our shuttle car at the Wyeth Campground. It was wonderful to share this long peaceful paddle with our kids.