Here’s our experientially confirmed advice about the Deschutes River Trail: walk it, don’t bike it. This is what we also advised last summer, after concluding that if you’re going to walk your mountain bike over all the “mountain” parts of a trail, and those parts constitute a healthy proportion of the trail, then you might as well simply walk the whole way rather than having to struggle to both walk and push your bike half the way.
This assumes, of course, that you are not one of the hell-bent (or emergency room-bent) mountain bikers who abound in Central Oregon, and who we observed whizzing past us on the Deschutes River Trail from our safe vantage point several feet off of what is, for them, a really fun amusement ride—and for us (Laurel particularly), is a Mountain Bike Chamber of Horrors. Steepness! Slopeness into riverness! Sharp rockness! Yesterday we decided to walk and reserve our sense of horror for Bush’s political policies.
Look how relaxed Laurel is by Lava Island. Quite a change from last year, when we barely noticed Lava Island, so intent we were on keeping our bikes from falling off the trail into that merrily rushing along side channel of the Deschutes.
There’s a lot to see on a hot August afternoon. We observed some curious boating behavior that didn’t have anything to do with propelling the boat down the river. Rather, it had everything to do with falling into the river, which occurred a split second after this photo was snapped.
Whatever problems exist out there in the physical world, and in here in my mental world, they quickly faded away from consciousness. A flowing river has a way of smoothing out normally irritating psychic rough spots. Which makes me wonder: are those spots ever really there if they fade away so readily?
Big Eddy Falls is a great spot for lunching, relaxing, and people watching. The people of interest are in whitewater tour boats, and Big Eddy Falls is, I believe, their peak whitewater experience. Most of the boaters’ faces show excitement-tinged joy. It’s fun to see people having fun.
Just above Big Eddy Falls we found a place to practice our own daring Deschutes River activity: close-to-whitewater wading. Imagine! Just around the corner from where we’re standing are dangerous rapids! Call us crazy, but we like to live life on the edge (especially the edge of our couch, the edge of our bed, the edge of our recliner).
We were able to decompress from our wading excitement on the walk back to the Meadow Picnic Area, where we started. This is a view of a peaceful pond separated from the Deschutes by a dike that also serves as the trail.
The only fly in the ointment of an otherwise great Central Oregon excursion came when we made the entirely unwise decision to look in Bend for two green plastic outside chairs to take back to our shared Metolius river cabin. These were to replace two otherwise identical plastic outside chairs that happen to be white, and thus far outside of our Feng Shui sensibilities.
However, I soon discovered that also far outside of my Feng Shui sensibilities is sitting in the rear compartment of our station wagon with the hatch open in 95 degree heat, trying to keep the dog cool and watered while Laurel goes into store after store searching for those elusive green chairs.
On the north side of Bend, first at Home Depot and then at Target, I managed to maintain most of my Deschutes River Trail-induced calm. After driving through rush-hour traffic to the south side of Bend and experiencing the unsplendor of the Fred Meyer parking lot with Serena, my calm had turned into heat-amplified irritation.
And by the time Serena and I had lapped up the rest of my last water bottle while waiting through Laurel’s visits to Sears and Shopko in the middle part of Bend, I had lost all ability to flow with the current of life. I was beached on my own shoal of “what the hell are we doing spending more than an hour looking for green plastic chairs in a hot asphalt jungle?”
It was easy to feel at one with the cosmos while I was along the Deschutes River. Now, if only I can learn to do the same while I’m immersed in my own stream of consciousness.
[Note: this hike is the beginning of the "Dillon and Benham Falls" hike, #34, in our edition of William Sullivan's great book, "100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades"]