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Peddling Paddling Art: On kayak sculptures, slideshows and the "other" triple crown 

A look at a kayak sculpture in Bend, Oregon.

click to enlarge outdoors_kayak-sculpture.jpg

The new kayak/flower sculpture in the roundabout at Riverbend Park is the latest piece of public art to confound and/or delight the citizens of Bend. The proposal for the sculpture, "Yakaya," was submitted by Seattle artist Troy Pillow and was unanimously chosen by the Art in Public Places committee, the same non-profit organization that is responsible for the rest of the roundabout art in Bend.

After researching several different kayak companies and methods of construction, Pillow contacted Tom and Lisa Derrer at Eddyline Kayaks. He met with them several times and decided to use the Merlin LT model kayak for his sculpture. Eddyline then produced three red, orange and yellow boats for the pedals and nine paddles for the stamen. Pillow worked with an engineer on some elements of design of the structure and it has been tested to winds of 85 mph. It was erected on May 5 and 6 of this year.

My favorite thing about the roundabout art in Bend is that everyone has an opinion about it, whether it be that it's ugly, a waste of money or a really cool thing that makes Bend unique. I've heard some paddlers express some concern that with all the exposure to the sun, the kayaks will look pretty weathered in a few years. Others say that they think it is a shame that such nice boats will never get to feel the water. I think Pillow's past portfolio is certainly filled with work that is a little easier on the eyes - see "Evolution" at 15th and Bear Creek - but with such a huge paddling community in town, if nothing else, this sculpture does a great job of expressing Bend's reverence for outdoor recreation.

Grand Canyon Slide Show

On November 18, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe will host a night of stories and slide shows from the Grand Canyon from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity to learn more about how to get a permit and prepare for a trip down the Colorado River. Both recreational opportunities and geological history will be discussed.

The Triple Crown

One of the favorite runs for whitewater kayakers this time of year is the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown, as defined by local paddlers, consists of kayaking Benham Falls, Dillon Falls and Lava Island Falls in the same day. Yes, most folks think of the Triple Crown as an amazing accomplishment in thoroughbred racing, but to local paddlers it's another exhilarating day with your friends on the Deschutes Paddle Trail navigating some of Central Oregon's most challenging whitewater.

During the fall, the Deschutes River water levels drop significantly making Benham, Dillon and Lava Island Falls different from the raging whitewater rapids they are in the summer. At lower flows, these rapids are a little slower and less pushy, but they still pack a punch and offer very challenging class IV and V rapids.

The first and most challenging of the three is Benham Falls. The upper part of the run has a busy class IV section. After the upper section, the river bends to the right, and becomes steeper. As paddlers enter this part of the drop, boats become submerged in large hydraulic waves and holes. Spectators often look down in fascination and ponder why anyone would want to do that?

From Benham to Dillon, there are several miles of flat water where the changing colors of the trees reflect on the river. This time of year, paddlers run the right side of Dillon Falls and aim for a flake sticking out of the waterfall that launches kayaks into the air and propels them into the steep canyon. Hikers along the Deschutes River Trail often watch this "boof" move, as there are great areas above Dillon Falls for spectators to peer into the canyon.

Last, but not least is Lava Island Falls. Lava Island Falls consists of Lava I and Lava II rapids with a flat water pond between them. This area of the Deschutes is difficult to access for hikers and allows for a true Deschutes Paddle Trail view of the river as kayakers and rafters scream down Lava to the Meadow Camp picnic area. Whitewater recreational enthusiasts should know that over the years there have been several rescues and fatalities in each of these rapids. No matter the time of year, these rapids should only be attempted by experienced and skilled kayakers with a solid roll. For more information on the rapids visit or contact local boating shop Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. The nine hazard signs and eleven bulletin boards river signs that were recently installed by the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance will make recreational river users aware of these rapids. Visit for more information on the river signs. (Mark Schang)


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