Mar 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Weekend Extravaganza

Returning to the scene of our first packrafting trip last spring, Kirk and I floated down one of our favorite spots in Central Oregon this weekend.

Yes, there was some packing to our packrafting last summer.
Lovely little water way...
with some pretty cool features.
We weren't sure what the water levels would be like, but having visited this spot several times a year for the past few years, we knew the water levels stayed fairly consistent throughout different seasons.

Because roads are closed in the area during the winter, we had a longer hike in...

This boating gear is HEAVY!

but soon we were inflating, packing, repacking and suiting up.

This would be Kirk's first time using his cargo fly...and while I was strapping my two 13 liter and one 35 liter dry bags to my boat, he had everything snug in the tubes of the boat except for what he needed as a foot rest. (we sized our boats big enough so that we could store a bag behind our seats and at the front of the boat).

Two long dry bags fit inside.
Where is all this crap going to go?
The water looked higher than then last time we tried to packraft it...and soon we were whisked away with the current. We navigated around and through rocks, down a few shoots and through the canyoned out banks of basalt. It was a wonderful day to be on the water.

Looking back at a fun little drop.
Cargo fly is staying dry...Circus Boat floats!
How long do you think that tree has been there?
Somehow I ended up dressed in all yellow.
In total we boated about five miles, mostly class II with an occasional III and three portages. At times the canyon walls soared 100' above us, the creek having gouged out a serene and secluded passage way through thousands of years of time and rock. We had to be on constant sharp stick watch and could tell there had been some flooding in the recent weeks. There were not many eddies, I would bet that had we taken the time to stop and explore we surely would have found traces of ancient peoples. The creek and its canyon remains relatively untouched, and we aim to keep it that way. (we're not going share the name of the area, it's our secret quiet spot...yet I'm blogging about it. Ironic, I know...look at a map!)

At the end of our float we came to a large flat where the water meets hundreds of feet of colored layers of sedimentary rock.

It is a gorgeous place to camp and we claimed our favorite local spot.

The day was windy and we knew there was a chance of rain that night, so we changed and spent a few minutes in the hammock before the chill sent us gathering wood for a fire.

We brought along the tarp we made last year, we've been shy about using it since an epic material error in the Wallowas last summer ejected us a day early with soaking down sleeping bags. We have since waterproofed the material (believing the fabric had not been properly treated by the manufacturer - spinnaker fabric shouldn't have to be treated, right!?!) and knew our windy/rainy night would be a good test of its improved durability (fingers crossed).

It's a tarp.
The evening was cut short by rain showers, so we dove into the warmth and safety of our tarp for what proved to be a dry night.

We decided against more boating on Sunday. My boating gear was still wet and the occasional snow flake in the air reminded me it was not summer. I had boated in Kirk's dry top and some fleece lined leggings and a pair of splash pants that may have been somewhat water resistant 10 years ago when he got them. After a wet butt and cold feet all day yesterday I am much closer to getting a dry suit or at least some gortex bibs with feet in them. I am over being cold and wet...I take donations!

We packed up our gear after a lazy morning with coffee and sun. The wind had a bite to it, so we kept a steady pace walking back upstream past the way we had come the day before.
The hike out is quite nice.

Mar 14, 2013

Spring has Sprung

Woooo, feels like Spring in Central Oregon, and you know what that means...time to dust off the packrafts and seek some water ways.