October is here and that means the river will rise! Canals that flow out of the Deschutes to irrigate agriculture in the surrounding areas will be shut off, and flows will increase substantially, making it possible to kayak down sections of the river that are too boney and shallow for a kayak during the warmer months.
I interviewed a few local kayaking experts about their favorite fall kayak trips and both the Riverhouse Run and the Middle Deschutes were mentioned as the best around.
Although some of the local irrigation districts stop drawing water from the canals in early October, it can sometimes take through mid-October for the river to substantially rise. Paddlers can check river levels at Oregonkayaking.net (and then click on Oregon River flows) for the most current information on the feasibility of kayaking different sections of the Deschutes during winter months.
This is a local favorite because it's so close to town with excellent scenery and challenging waters. This is a great place for paddlers to practice skills over and over without too much shuttling effort. This run starts behind its namesake, the Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center, and flows down to Tumalo State Park.
"I look forward to October when this run comes in because it indicates a change of season," said Geoff Frank, owner of Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe. "Winter is right around the corner. You tend to get cravings for runs you can't do all the time." Frank especially likes paddling "up to some cool rapids" at the place where Tumalo Creek flows into the Deschutes.
This section of the river starts at Steelhead Falls and ends at Lake Billy Chinook and is considered a Class 4+ because the Deschutes flows through an isolated canyon and evacuations are a challenge.
"The Middle D is a quintessential paddling experience," said Alex Templar, owner of Current Experiences, one of Central Oregon's whitewater kayaking schools. "There are continuous pool drops and rapids, and you won't see another group of boaters out there this time of year."
Fall/winter whitewater instruction and pool sessions
Current Experiences continues their instructional programs throughout the fall/winter months. They teach pool classes in Redmond every Sunday from 4 - 6 p.m. for $20 with a free shuttle service from Bend. Current instructors will be on hand to help paddlers learn everything from a basic roll technique to more advanced playboating skills.
Current also organizes kayaking clubs for kids and adults. The program is $50 a month and includes four pool sessions, and two days out on the river.
"We are creating an environment for people to learn how to paddle from professionals at a reasonable price," Templar said. "We utilize fast-paced instruction with a comfortable environment."
Learn more about Current Experiences and their upcoming programs by visiting their website at www.currentexperiences.com.
Beginning October 3rd, and running through end of May, Juniper Swim and Fitness offers open pool sessions for kayakers every Sunday from 4:15 to 6 p.m. for $8 per session. Paddlers must provide all their own equipment. Rentals are available from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe: www.tumalocreek.com.