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Water: Drink it, ski on it and paddle in it 

click to enlarge whitewaterlr.jpg

Water, what wondrous stuff. Two hydrogen atoms sharing electrons with an oxygen atom. Seventy-five percent of the earth is covered by water. The human body is 60 to 70 percent water. We're supposed to drink eight eigh-ounce glasses of water a day.

Water. I like to surf on it, paddle through it, swim in it and drink it. I like to ski on it at 25 degrees and soak in it at 105 degrees. As much as I love water, though, I can get tired of the rain.

Isn't it odd? It seems like it's been raining all winter and yet our snowpack is only 57 percent of average in the Deschutes and Crooked River basins. Last week, Governor Ted Kulongoski issued Executive Order No. 10-03, determining a state of drought emergency in six counties including Deschutes. The declaration provides the state flexible water management strategies in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the Klamath basin's farmers-versus-fish water wars in 2001 and 2002 that generated national controversy.

The irrigation gods were busy beavers last week also, lowering the Deschutes River through town to a rocky creek. Whenever that happens, it is a good opportunity to scout the channel for the Pole Pedal Paddle. Fortunately, the water level was brought back up just in time for the second-annual Riverhouse Rendezvous Whitewater Slalom Race.

About 30 paddlers from around the Northwest took part in the event which involved the negotiation of 18 gates in a stretch of whitewater that tumbles past the Riverhouse Convention Center. There was rain, there was sun and there were gusts of wind buffetting the gates, which made the course that much more interesting.

The night before the event, Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe owner Geoff Frank fired up the barbies on the deck behind the store and tossed a party for racers and local paddlers. He announced that the popular Pickin' and Paddlin' events that he introduced last year would be expanded to five summer evenings this year. The last Wednesday of each month from May through September will feature demo boats, standup paddle races, food, beer and music. The not-to-miss bashes are fundraisers for the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance.

"We raised $4,000 last year. So we only need $1,696,000 more to make the whitewater park a reality," Geoff said.

"But, we've got ideas," he added enthusiastically.

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