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Fantastic Time at Lake Billy Chinook

November 2, 2013

I’d like to extend a huge (and somewhat belated) thank you to Marcia and Paula for arranging a fantastic weekend at Lake Billy Chinook the weekend of October 11-13. It was a great time and we appreciate the hard work it took to put it all together.

Many of us camped in the park-like Crooked River campground sitting along the top of the 600 foot high cliffs that surround much of the lake. Over the three days and nights in the campground, we heard Great-Horned Owls and coyotes in the night and watched deer and quail in the morning. The campground had wonderful free hot showers and the restrooms were clean and heated. [Click the picture at the bottom of this post to step through the gallery of eighteen beautiful pictures - editor]

Throughout the weekend we had little wind to deal with, so the lake took on a mirror-like quality. The already incredibly high cliffs became twice their height and each paddler had a watery echo of themselves paddling along with them.
Tent minimalists

Friday early afternoon found a group of seven of us, led by Paula, paddling up the Deschutes Arm of the lake along the base of the cliffs. There were brilliant red, yellow and orange trees on the slopes, mergansers and cormorants on the water, seagulls and a golden eagle in the air. Fast water at the point where the Deschutes empties into the lake gave us a fun place to play.

Saturday began with a group breakfast sponsored by Paula and Marcia. Three large crock pots of hot, delicious steel-cut oatmeal filled with apples, with sides of brown sugar, raisins, and nuts to mix in. Oh ... and don’t forget the ever-so-slightly out of place silver coffee urn filled with great coffee. A really wonderful way to begin a somewhat chilly day.

On our choice of Saturday paddle, this one again led by the intrepid Paula, we headed up the Crooked River arm of the lake, where two nice waterfalls had our necks bent and at least some of us fooled into thinking that we were being rained on by the waterfall’s spray when, in fact, we were being rained on by the rain. It only lasted a few minutes and it was the only rain we saw while paddling all weekend. Where the river met the lake, a few people pulled out on the rocks for a quick break while others of us stayed in our boats, playing in the current and exploring the cliff sides.

We gathered with the rest of the group that evening at the potluck where people displayed their culinary excellence. A great meal with fun conversations, plenty of laughs, and sign ups for Sunday’s paddle offerings, all wrapped around a wood fire and two propane fire rings, completed the day.

Our choice for Sunday was to paddle with Mike up the Metolius from South Perry Campground. On the drive to the put in, we stopped to marvel at the incredible balancing rocks in the hills overlooking the water.

The scenery on this part of the lake was markedly different from our earlier paddles, with relatively gentle slopes leading up from the water instead of the sheer cliffs we’d experienced along the other arms. Gorgeous fall colors on the trees surrounded us. At the point where the Metolius spills into the lake, the water was fast, furious and hugely fun to paddle against. It was an incredible and sunny finish to a wonderful weekend of camping and paddling with the OOPS group.

To sum it all up, it was a well-planned, well-thought-out event filled with good people to paddle with, fun places to explore, and the great company of many OOPSters to share it all with. Thanks again to everyone who was involved.

Respectfully and belatedly submitted by Dick Cogburn. Photos by Karen.

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