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Wild and Wet: Oregon's wildflower bonanza, The SUP revolution and the world's toughest "tri" 

If you missed it, there's still a small window of time to see it. If, on the other hand, you've been out enjoying the wildflower display this year, you've witnessed perhaps the best one in the past thirty years.

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Going Fast

If you missed it, there's still a small window of time to see it. If, on the other hand, you've been out enjoying the wildflower display this year, you've witnessed perhaps the best one in the past thirty years.

The combination of cool late spring weather along with more than normal precipitation caused the rash of brilliantly colored flowers. For many hikers, mountain bike riders and trail runners, areas like the Maston Allotment, which normally don't get much by way of wildflowers, were suddenly strewn with red, yellow, white and purple blooms for weeks. The display at the Maston, for example, was particularly striking as it livened up what is generally a pretty blah landscape.

Pockets of amazing wildflowers still remain, particularly at higher elevations. So don't miss what's left of this rare wildflower year.

Don't Bug Me

Every so often, there's a new idea in bug repellents that promises to keep the nasty critters from eating you alive. And for those who say Central Oregon environs are bug-free in summer, take a hike, walk or run up along the River Trail this week. Or better yet, try hiking into the area around Mount Thielsen, mountain bike riding around Waldo Lake, trail running up by Swampy Lakes. We get plenty of mosquitoes.

And if it's teeny blood-sucking gnats you're after, try the Ana Reservoir close by Summer Lake. They'll drive you nuts.

Into the anti-bug fray comes Don't Bite Me, a patch (much like a stop-smoking patch) that you adhere to your body and experience, so the company's public relations promotional materials claim, "36 hours of bug protection."

The secret? A combination of vitamin B-1 and aloe that once in the bloodstream reduces human odors that apparently attract insects.

B-1 and aloe are harmless and a far cry from the dreaded DEET that enhances so many bug repellants. To test Don't Bug Me, I gave patches to two Bend Metro Park and Recreation District hiking trip leaders. Both applied a patch two hours (as per instructions) prior to starting hikes in bug-invested areas. On every outing, both came back without any bites.

Noted one leader: "The mosquitoes hovered around me but wouldn't alight on my clothes or exposed skin." The other tester confirmed this result.

That's the upside. The downside might be lingering body odor hours after a patch has been used. One tester cited this, the other didn't.

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Gold Medal Clash

Here's one from the realm of strange-but-true. Petter Northug of Norway and Marcus Hellner of Sweden, 2010 Olympic cros country ski gold medalists, going head-to-head on July 5 in roller ski races on the streets of Las Vegas near The Palms hotel.

How weird is that? Plenty, but it was part of a broader challenge between the two studs put on by the Norwegian men's monthly magazine Vi Menn with its motto of, "let men be men."

The main part of the challenge is which gold medalist will do better in the annual World Series of Poker. Northug is apparently a decent player; Hellner is a neophyte.

So while the poker result won't be known until later, the winner of the roller ski part of the challenge was Northug taking two of three.

SUP Over?

When you walk into Costco and see a pre-packaged kit comprised of a stand up paddling (SUP) board and a paddle, it's gotta signal the end of the crazy upward spiral, and attendant trendiness of SUP.

"Not so," says Bruce Bergstrom of Sawyer Oars and Paddles in Rogue River, "people can't make paddles fast enough for the sport.

Adds Dave Chun of Bend's Kialoa Canoe Paddles, "There's still plenty of room for more growth as the sport really attracts a divergent group of participants. We're bipeds, so we like to stand and see what's around us as we glide along."

And we bipeds like adventure. Witness Maui big wave surfer Archie Kalepa's epic SUP run of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. Over 16-days, Kalepa, 46, paddled 187 miles and did many of the big rapids, like Lava Falls, in style.

Kalepa used an inflatable board made by C4 Waterman. An inflatable board makes all sorts of remote rivers and lakes more accessible to SUP adventurer paddlers.

Locally, Jayson Bowerman got into SUP adventuring with a normal board, making a run down the lower Deschutes last summer and paddling the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue this spring. His Rogue trip almost ended when the nose of his board broke off after he ran Rainy Falls.

Repairs were made and he paddled on.


Next time you hear some local tri-athlete carrying on at the pub about his or her hardcore triathlon efforts, ask them if they've heard of Charlie Wittmack, a 33 year-old adventurer, speaker and trial lawyer from Iowa. Wittmack is off on a 12,000-mile, 11-month solo "World Tri."

His tri starts with a 275-mile swim down England's Thames River to the North Atlantic and then across the English Channel to France.

That's followed by a 9,000-mile bike ride through Europe to Asia and a final run (and we assume very slow walk) to the top of Mount Everest.

Now that's a serious tri.


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