Monday, June 13, 2016
Riviere des Chutes
I've often written about the Deschutes on this blog and some may think too much. Perhaps they are right but perhaps they are the ones who either have never visited this river or have visited and never embraced it as only a fly fisherman can. To think of the Deschutes as only a means to catch fish is terribly sad and I think one must look deeper into all this river is in order to love it like I and so many others have.
The Deschutes is mysterious in that you can never know it's moods and can always be surprised at things you see along the river and it's canyon.For instance the wind that blows through the canyon can be both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time and the mystery is that it comes up instantly like some one just turned on a giant fan up or down the canyon.
When I was first learning to cast a two-handed fly rod I of course did not know anything about casting off of the opposite shoulder. So when clumsily trying to execute a double or single spey cast off of my right shoulder and with a strong upriver wind no less you can just guess the results.....frustration but fortunately no hooks in the face.
Other times the stiff fall breeze of the canyon can make you realize how lucky we are to have beauty like this and to be alive.
I am not a spiritual person in the biblical sense but to me there is something holy about the Deschutes. Please do not ask me to expand on this notion because I cannot but the river, the fish and the canyon can be likened to some kind of holy trinity to the fly fisherman.
At the end of the Macks Canyon access road is an ancient native American burial ground. The indigenous tribes of central Oregon knew that the river spirit dwelled in that place and used it for their most sacred of places to bury their dead.
There are hieroglyphs on the rocks above the river at various locations and while Lewis and Clark's Corp of Discovery paid little attention to this "riviere des chutes" it was obviously a special place to these people.
The railroad that is as much a part of the Deschutes canyon has a history all it's own and adds to the legend of the river.The men that worked for competing railroad companies have added their names to the story of this river.
The lonely train whistle that has echoed up and down the canyon for so many years tells their story which is a unique part of Oregon's history.
The Deschutes can scare the hell out of you too!It's a most intimidating kind of place like no river I've known. From it's numerous class IV rapids to it's rattlesnakes and just the ruggedness of the canyon is something that one should respect and not take for granted. The wading can be best described as treacherous and this river is not for the unprepared or careless! It can and will take your life the minute you take it for granted like any river can.
The rattlesnakes are not really that dangerous but you must pay attention to ones surroundings and the wildlife that inhabit the Deschutes while visiting this river.
Nothing comes easy on this river. Not the fish, not the access and not the knowledge of it's soul.
Most of all this river is wonderful. There is nothing more exciting than coming around that corner before you get to Maupin and you see the river for the first time. As Meriwether Lewis exclaimed at seeing the Pacific ocean for the first time "Oh The Joy"
It's like that reunion with a loved one that you have not seen in a long time or the happiness that one feels when coming home after a long journey. Approaching the thin blue ribbon hundreds of feet below, your heartbeat quickens as it would at the blush of seeing a lover after he/she has been absent.
The Deschutes is at the very least wonderful and there are many other adjectives that could be used in the description and emotion involved with this magical place.
There is the longing you feel to return after you've spent a too short visit to the Deschutes.
I cannot wait to return.