Hiking The Bend River Trail
Bend, Oregon straddles the Deschutes river just where the river comes shooting down out of the Cascade mountains to plow its way through the old deep lava plain that is the High Desert of central Oregon. On this unexpectedly nice day in early November, my Partner and I are spending a much deserved long weekend on a mini-vacation. We are staying at Mt. Batchelor Village in one of their rentable condos that sits on the bluff up over the Deshutes a couple of miles south of downtown Bend.
Originally, we were going to drive up to nearby Mt. Bachelor and do a snowshoe, but we decided to stay around town and scrapbook instead. That doesn't get us off the hook from hiking, however. Our Fitbits would be driving us crazy if we didn't get out and get our steps. We did this by going out in the morning and hiking the Deschutes river trail. This trail is a lovely forest and urban trail that winds from the Old Mill shopping district up both sides of the river into the gorge south of town and then up the river another mile or so, terminating at a little bridge that closes the loop. We entered the trail from a little connector about a third of a mile from the bridge on the west side of the trail. Today we decided to walk to the bridge and then into town on the East side of the river.
This trail is well maintained by the city of Bend. It is well marked and has a lot of nature and local interest signage (did you know that mistletoe can make a pine tree look like a witches broom stick?) as well as a few memorial benches and foot bridges. The trail is well used by the locals and visitors alike. Lots of joggers and walkers and dog walkers and families out for a stroll (though the teenagers don't look so happy). We are out early, and it is a bit chilly with a chance of rain in the air, but still we saw and passed many people on the trail. Since it is a loop, we passed many people twice. The second time you wave hello, it is almost like you are waving to an old friend.
This end of the trail is down in the gully of the straight and fast moving river. Sometimes you see white water kayakers out on the river, but not too often. It is a challenging stretch of the river and you can't get easy boat access in this part (you have to go up stream and try to find a place to launch where you don't have to run the rapids that kill you). Though there is always water in the river, this is the desert, and the flora here shows it. There is lodgepole pine and its beautiful giant cousin, Ponderosa pine. I like the ponderosa. The slightly orange color and the well formed bulk of the trees is very majestic. There is also manzanita and sage and other low lying plants. No ferns though, this isn't Portland. Lots of deer in this area too, though you don't usually see them when you are out hiking during the day. We see them a lot in town just at dusk.
As you walk the trail you can look up and see the big rock cliffs and all of the condos and houses seated up above them. A little bit of a let down, but hey, this is basically a urban walk, so having the uniqueness of this river valley so close to one of the larger cities in Oregon is quite cool.
A mile or so of walking and we are at the part of the river just across from our condo. There it is up on that cliff. This part of the river has some really large rocks and cliffs right up against the river and is a great place for a view and some picture taking.
|I took like 10 of these shots. Could not get the water and hills to light correctly. |
There must be a button for that on my phone someplace
Soon we come to a place where you go out along a little bridge and boardwalk around a public water works. There is a couple of big cement pipes at river level with a very strong current coming out. What is this? Well, a few miles up river is a little diversion dam that sends a good part of the river down an aqueduct at the top of the canyon. A this point in the river, some of that water falls down through a hydro-power generator and then returns to the river. The rest of it goes into a open canal and flows across east Bend for irrigation out to who-knows-where.
Further down the trail and you come to the place where the river dumps out of the canyon onto the desert. There is a car bridge to go under and then you are in the little plain where the Old Mill district is built. The river immediately becomes wider and slower and is a pretty and sluggish thing as it winds its way leasurely through the town. During the summer, thousands of people plop themselves into inner-tubes and on rafts to float down the river on a hot lazy day. Lots of fun and pretty much free. Too cold for that today. But we do enjoy the ducks and Canada Geese out swimming and feeding.
|Hey Daddy, Can I play on the Saw Blade?|
|That is a bridge across the river there.|
Bend was originally a lumber town and the parks show that in their names and decorations. Statues of horses pulling logs, saw mill themed children play structures, that sort of thing. Why, the old Mill itself has been largely preserved, including the 3 tall chimneys, an houses the local REI store. My partner and I are walking that way. I like REI. They don't mind if you walk in wearing hiking boots and carrying a pack. They even take care of it for me whilst I shop.
|See the 3 Chimneys around the Bend?|
It used to be that you could go into REI every year and find that one new piece of equipment that you really needed to have. I must be getting old because it is getting harder and harder to find something new. Or perhaps the new things are still there but I can't convince myself that I need them. Part of the problem is that, yeah, a LED head light on an elastic band is cool. But I have 3 of them and I don't need one with 5% more light and a cool red light too !! And I have the 5 tents I need and not sure I could use one that sets up in a tree (if you can find 3 trees just the right distance apart). The stick stove that also generates power to charge you phone is nice, but not something that I think is worth the cost either in money or in weight.
What to do then? There are these new things coming out that I think would be nice. They are what are essentially digital walki-talkis. They communicate with other ones of their kind and build up a local network. You talk to them over bluetooth from your phone and run an app that lets you send text or voice messages to other people, either in your group or more globally. So, imagine you have one. And another friend has one and he is one mile away. Then another friend is a mile beyond that. The second friend is too far away for your device to reach, so the middle friend's device will automatically act as a repeater. I could see this as being a great safety thing if there were some of these things sprinkled around, like, by the rangers. Or even if you left one hanging from a tree when you were halfway out. Anyway, the other cool thing is that they don't have to communicate at speed. If the connection gets bad, they can lower the baud rate and resend and keep trying until they can get the message through (just like a text from your phone). I like the idea, but for it to be useful, you need to have a lot of people out there using them. Not just me and my partner. Still, Christmas is coming soon...
Enough rank commercialism. We still have a few miles to go back to the condo and lunch time is looming. We cross the river on the nice foot bridge right by the Old Mill. To our right is the Les Schwab amphitheater. Les is the guy to go to for tires in Oregon. And he is the guy to go to for music in Bend. Big concerts outdoors right on the river. I guess a lot of people get the "cheap seats" and just drop an anchor off their inner tubes and listen from the river. I understand that this summer is a 50 year Jethro Tull concert. Can Ian Anderson possible still be the front man?
|That rock says "Les Schwab Amphitheate"r. Take my word for it|
The trail now turns from pavement back to gravel and pulls in close to the cliffs. The river is getting more narrow, we are about to go back under the highway bridge and enter into the little gorge again. Just before though is one last thing. A strange concrete structure low on the river bank. An old ferry landing? Some place for dumping logs into there river for the mill? A rock beaver dam? I don't know. I wish someone would put up one of those nice little explanatory signs.
And so we come back to the side trail that leads up the bluff to our condo property. What a pleasant hike. And we get to do it again tomorrow morning.
|Tesla Charging Stations OF THE FUTURE.|
One last thing. Back at our condo I notice a bunch of electric car charging stations. These are new. They have just been put in by Tesla and are just for charging the Tesla cars. These things are popping up all over the place. Now, I know that there is a good chance you are reading this from the future and are thinking. "Car charging stations? How quaint. This must be before all of the tree's were cleared so that the sun could shine directly on cars and charge them." Of course, if you are from the very distance future, then you probably ARE a smart car. How are things? Please read the rest of my blog entries and send my AI personality copy a note.