Deschutes Rafting: October 7, 8 & 9, 2006

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Gleeful Dampness on the Deschutes

Written by Liz Junior

It was a perfect morning. The bustling bus had energy floating around in the air with anxious kids chattering. An excited silence fell over the bus as we pulled up to the river. We smashed up fallen apples with our paddles as we awaited instruction after loading our precious clothes in dry bags. The leaders split us into two countries, (in order to comply withy BLM regulations), torn apart from our brethren. The Indians and the Pakistanis mock-scowled at one another and started a “battle” that would be a constant division between the groups. “Where are you from?” became a common thing to holler at an approaching raft. The first day we drifted along, each person taking control of the rafts steering, and later laid down on the raft, letting the current carry us. This was a day for mischief and mutiny as many people betrayed their country by switching rafts in tricky maneuvers or by pushing their raft mates overboard. It became the goal to make sure no soul was dry. After setting up camp, and changing clothes, the shrill sound of the train echoed in our ears. We set off toward the tracks and enjoyed the full moon over the soft sounds of the river. On our return, while still on the tracks, two bright lights could be seen in the distance. “Train! Train!” multiple voices shouted as each person hurriedly moved far off the tracks to a safe distance. As the train went by, we could feel the pressure on our skin and in our shoes. After arriving back at camp, some went to bed while others stayed up and talked with their toes in the sand. The following morning was a late one, feeling well rested and fed; we set off for a more difficult day. Early on we reached a large boulder which nearly everyone jumped off of. And one guide jumped off an even higher one as everyone looked on in anticipation. Now already damp, there was nothing left to lose. The Indian (Kulu) state started a civil war. Peter Green’s mentality seemed to be that all food must travel by air, so when our fellow Indians asked for apples, it had to be air borne. Thus became the Apple Battle of ’06. Some fell into the water. This necessitated apple rescue, and later, foolishly, the other state (Lahoul) gave their used ammo (apple cores) back to us, for us to use later that day as weapons against them, once again. They also, foolishly asked for the peanut butter jar after lunch was over, which to their dismay was empty except for some undesirable peanut butter water. To add insult to injury, it whacked a rafter in the head to their dissatisfaction. That day we also encountered the White Horse and Buckskin Mary rapids. Our only freshman, Sam Bishop was the first to volunteer to go down Buckskin Mary with only his lifejacket, and no raft. Several people followed suit, enjoying the terrifying waves of piercing cold water while others climbed up a steep hill. The rafting was more difficult this day, with more thrill and technique. We were unable to make camp near the legendary Dant so we went down river more and set up camp. The sun was starting to set as most people finished putting up their tents, so some of the rafters made their way up a vast hillside, which one could only imagine had the most beautiful view at the top that made it worth the trek. That night was a windy one, and we worried about rain but there was none - to our satisfaction - and we enjoyed a moon in a blue sky that early morning as we set off. Peter Green had said the night before that “We’ll be on the water before the sun hits it.” This is exactly what happened. It became a race to the sunnier parts of the river. This being the final day, the rapids became more treacherous and exciting. Larger splashes in the face of the front rafters. We got to enjoy the scenery and rapids at the same time. But lunch time was everyone’s favorite. Because we were ahead of time, we pulled off to let some people explore and others relax. One lunch boat became a mess of jelly that will forever be embedded into the cooler top. After leaving we came across some fun mini-rapids to ride the bull on, and even one rapid called “Swimmers Rapid” which a few students went on, a tamer version of Buckskin Mary but still the same thrill. There was little more to lose since everyone was wet and knew the bus sat waiting with warm dry clothes. As we reached our final destination, we were sad that we had to leave the natural environment we had been growing accustomed to and knew we’d be returning to our world of studies. But those days and nights will be a memory not soon forgotten. Except maybe for the few hit in the head with apple cores.