Outside Games in Bend, Oregon

Get your paddle on at Outside Games

Bend’s Outside Games feature several events on the Deschutes River

By Mark Morical / The Bulletin / @MarkMorical

The Outside Games are a yearly celebration of the myriad outdoor sports and activities that Central Oregon has to offer.

Mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding and climbing are all part of the five days of festivities that run Wednesday through Sunday in and around Bend.

Paddling seems to currently stand out among these sports, not only because the temperatures are getting warmer as it is now officially summer, but because the new Bend Whitewater Park on the Deschutes River near Colorado Avenue is expected to open by late summer.

Wednesday night’s Pickin’ and Paddlin’, the first event of the fourth annual Outside Games, is designed to raise awareness of and support for the whitewater park. The event includes boat demos and live music at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe in Bend.

Drew Oldfield, manager at Tumalo Creek, said the Outside Games and the new whitewater park can help introduce novice paddlers to kayaking and paddleboarding.

“For us, it’s the river and it’s the support for our surf (whitewater) park, and exposing these activities to the community, and exposing what kayaking is all about to the community,” Oldfield said. “And getting more people involved in it so we can have more people enjoy the surf features, and hopefully build more in the future.”

A brainchild of the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, the whitewater park has been about 15 years in the making. Pickin’ and Paddlin’ started as a low-profile event about seven years ago to promote the idea of the park. Now, hundreds show up to the monthly summer events to try different boats and take in live music.

“It’s a good kickoff for our season, to get a bunch of people out on the water, and get people excited to be on the river,” Oldfield said. “It’s a good opportunity for people to talk to the Deschutes River Conservancy, and to see what we’re doing and what our goal is in the future. It (the whitewater park) is finally happening. We’re finally seeing the waves start to form, so it’s very exciting.”

Oldfield added that the Deschutes can be a challenging river on which to learn how to whitewater kayak, but the park will provide a safer environment for teaching and learning the basics.

“Whitewater is not just a sport for extreme athletes or adrenaline junkies,” Oldfield said. “It’s an activity for everybody, and families, and when it’s done right it can be very safe and enjoyable. That‘s why I’m really excited about the park: exposing that to people who have been thinking about getting into it but aren’t sure how to do it.”

Other paddling events scheduled as part of the Outside Games are the Bend Paddleboard Challenge and the Meadow Camp Kayak Race, both set for Saturday.

Oldfield and other avid whitewater kayakers in Central Oregon are amped up for the Meadow Camp race.

“Having a race down our local Class IV (rapids) Meadow Camp run is very exciting for us, and it’s another way to expose to the community what we’re doing here,” Oldfield said. “We just want to have fun and paddle every day.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318, mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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April 23rd, 2018

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