Lower Deschutes C-wave
The 2005 water quest continues in the Northwest..

By James Bagley Jr. and EJ Etherington

Copyright 2005, Oregon Kayaking, James Bagley Jr. and EJ Etherington. No part of this page may be reproduced, linked, or copied without the express written permission of the Oregon Kayaking webmaster, James Bagley Jr. and EJ Etherington.

By March of 2005 Oregon had recorded the fourth-worst year-to-date rainfall accumulation on record.

EJ and I had been faithfully playboating at Spencer's during the week and creeking near Hood River on the weekend for over a month, but not just any month, again, it was March, and there wasn't any water anywhere.

We were desperate for something different. After scouring numerous sources we found... a three mile hike-in, 'park' and play spot on the Lower Deschutes with no eddy service. Our destination: The C-wave.

Now, other than EJ, most of my kayaking buddies are hard-core creekers. Trying to convince them to hike three miles so we could surf a wave was simply not going to happen. I invited them along in spite of my assumptions, and got all the wild cackling laughter and sarcastic remarks that I expected.

Oh well, I guess EJ and I would have the wave all to ourselves, or so I thought.

We headed over to central Oregon near Bend and camped at Deschutes Park on Saturday night, which I don't recommend! There are three separate train tracks within a quarter mile of Deschutes Park, and the trains ran all night, blowing their whistle going over the bridge. This pretty well defeated any plans of an early morning start and we didn't start hiking until around 9 a.m. ( earlier would be better later this summer to avoid the heat ).

James near the beginning of the hike on the Lower Deschutes wilderness area.

It was still mildly chilly when we started hiking. The temperature rose to over seventy within an hour and probably got in the low eighties during the day. Not bad at all for hiking, but it's not suppose to be this warm in MARCH.

"River trail or High trail?" I asked as we started hiking. EJ chose the low trail along the river, arguing that as long as it didn't end, we would get there eventually and be less likely to miss the play spot.

Well, that trail got smaller and smaller and we eventually decided to ascend to the high trail which is a gravel road. Shortly after we huffed and puffed our way up to the road we passed a wave. It looked big, fast, powerful, trashy and all around merciless play spot. "That can't be it." we both recited over and over again, hoping that we didn't hike this far for THAT.

Heading upstream.. still looking for the elusive wave.. three miles now..

We hiked on. Some miles later we took an easy trail down to the river very excited about a sweet looking play hole which turned out to be Beavertail. We had hiked around five and a half miles.

"Is that C-wave?" ( looking at Beavertail wave from the road )

We scouted Beavertail wave from the road and it looked smooth, retentive, wide with eddy service, in short a dream hole minus the 5 plus mile hike in. After 20 minutes futzing getting our gear into our boats (yes, gear into our playboats) and grabbing lunch in chewy lumps affectionately called 'energy bars,' we made our way down to Beavertail getting squirted unintentionally on the eddylines, (Remember, no other river this March has anything close to this volume and it seems pretty big). We were grinning ear to ear as we unloaded our boats at Beavertail. They eddy was thready but the hole looked good. Sadly, after some disappointing rides on the deceptively flushy hole, we gave up to surf some tiny waves that were easier to get to and provided longer rides. Now, tired from attaining back to Beavertail, we loaded our boats back up, and made our way down to C-Wave, which we had seen from the road earlier. Same one.

EJ got a nice squirt when he tried to punch in. I took my first, very bouncy ride; walking up and grinning I said to EJ, "There's a lot of energy in there."

James surfing the very thin, glassy, right shoulder

Shortly after we got there, Ken Pitta and some of the Playboating Northwest crew showed up. Here we were, 6 paddlers in the middle of no where on a hike-in playspot with no eddy service. The wave was big, fast, bouncy, but where EJ and I were struggling, the PN crew made it look easy.

Ken Pitta making it look easy

Even with 6 paddlers, you never really had to wait for your turn. Long rides were very rare and hiking your boat back to the wave took enough time for nearly everyone else to get a short, bouncy, ride.

I had never really witnessed an "air" flat-spin before, but it's mostly unavoidable when trying to spin on the C-wave. Big blunts, Air Blunts, Backstabs and similar moves are possible on this feature. But, it's really hard to setup for anything given the uncontrollable nature of surfing there. To get a Blunt or Air Blunt you simply had to wait for the wave to bounce you into the air and then throw your weight around. Perling would guarantee you a ride under the wave and a good nasal flushing (for you convenience, nose plugs will be removed automatically..).

EJ going for it

Ken Pitta tried a Helix, it looked good, but he flushed. Blunts and Air Blunts were the move of the day.

At around 4 p.m. we left tired, but smiling. I don't know if it's worth hiking three miles to play on the C-wave. We had a good time, but it might be a while before we go back.