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Beating the Heat: Sea Kayaking, Skiing & More 

click to enlarge Paddling at Hosmer Lake
  • Paddling at Hosmer Lake

Who woulda thunk that Central Oregon could be a Mecca for sea kayakers? On a recent morning bike ride up to Mt. Bachelor, I was passed by approximately 30 rooftop kayaks enroute to various Cascade Lakes. Just a couple of weeks ago, some avid kayakers I know had to park along the highway and drag their boats across the snow to put in at Sparks Lake. Now, there is good access to all of our lakes and it is prime paddling season.

Sparks Lake, the closest lake to town for a decent paddle, is especially good in the early season. It is a shallow lake that dries up as summer progresses, but right now it is full and fun. It offers nooks and crannies to explore, paddle-up campsites and is a wonderful lake from which to watch a full moon rise behind Bachelor. I remember one magical full moon paddle when we were accompanied by a deer swimming across the lake. Hosmer Lake is another favorite of kayakers and fly fishermen alike. It is a beautiful sinuous lake filled with gorgeous yellow water lilies and reflections of South Sister, Broken Top and Bachelor. The water is clear and the fish are plentiful. There is a special treat if you manage to navigate the maze of reeds to the inlet- a sparkling waterfall. I also enjoy taking a lap or two around Elk Lake followed, of course, by an ice cream cone at the lodge. Other great lakes for getting your sea kayak wet include Cultus for a woodsy feel, Crescent if you like sandy beaches and Waldo if you're ready for the potential of bigger conditions.

If you're feeling feisty and want to try a race, the upcoming Pioneer Cup on July 26th at Odell Lake is the perfect opportunity. There are divisions for canoes, kayaks, outriggers and stand up paddlers. The race starts at 11am at Shelter Cove and finishes 6 miles away at the Odell Lake Lodge at the other end of the lake with a barbecue. Sometimes, the wind can kick up exciting waves near the finish. This year marks the 28th anniversary of the fun, low-key event. For more information, contact race director John Milandin at or (541) 782-2815.


Most people would also find skiing in July an unlikely undertaking, but not so in Central Oregon. Maureen Kruse and Amy Petersen are just two of Bend's plethora of died in the wool knickers skiers who don't let summer stop them from finding snow. Maureen, known to many of us as the voice on the Mt Bachelor snow phone, provided me with a snow report this week (she obviously takes her job seriously year-round). She has been skinning up Mt Bachelor and skiing down multiple times per week and says there are still some good shots on Sunrise and Cowface, even as late as 1:30pm. Amy climbed South Sister about 2 weeks ago and was able to ski back down all the way to the car. She says skiing "is just the normal spring thing to do and there is still some great skiing out there." The window of opportunity is sublimating rapidly, however. Another group that climbed and skied South Sister a few days ago said that only the middle third of the descent was good. Snow is gone at the top and sun-cupped and dirty at the bottom. Mosquitoes may be an especially big factor this year. Kruse and Petersen attempted to ski Mt Bailey a couple of weeks ago and were driven out by the pesky buggers. Petersen plans to ski Mt Adams in August, once the access road is clear of snow, and Mt Hood in September. Who needs a lift ticket anyway?


Probably unexpected in Levi Leipheimer's world a year ago is that he would be standing on a podium in Bend rather than in Paris this July. The Tour de France's loss was the Cascade Cycling Classic's gain as Leipheimer and Chris Horner brought some world class cycling to our corner of the world. They were truly a class act and lots of fun to watch.

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