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Field Reports: Bend Whitewater Park flooded with floaters

Sun., Sept. 10, 2017, 4:25 a.m.

RIVERS – This year, in its first full summer season, more than 231,000 people floated the Deschutes River through the Bend, Oregon, Whitewater Park on inner tubes, kayaks or paddleboards. That’s roughly 2,200 floaters each day May 15-Aug. 22.

A river shuttle and nearby kayak rental service have seen a steady increase in business.

Built with money from a $29 million bond passed by voters in 2012, the park opened in September 2015 but closed a month later for repairs.

More than $535,000 was spent addressing problems with people getting hurt, hung up on rocks, puncturing their tubes or getting dumped into the water.

“The floating experience is still a river, so there have been some instances of cuts and bumps on the rocks that staff have witnessed or heard about, but these instances are infrequent, and the feedback has been mostly positive this summer,” said Julie Brown, parks spokeswoman.

On peak days, the park district estimates 200-300 surfers and kayakers used the whitewater channel’s four artificial waves.

Spokane had made steps starting in 2005 and acquired support and $500,000 in funding toward a whitewater park on the Spokane River near the Sandifur Bridge in Peaceful Valley, but the plans have been shelved because of several issues, including concerns for redband trout passage and spawning.

Unassisted speed record set on Appalachian Trail

HIKING – A Seattle native and former Boston College cross-country runner has traversed the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail in record time after a sleepless, 37-hour sprint to the top of Maine’s Mount Katahdin in gale-force winds.

Joe McConaughy, 26, known on the trail as “Stringbean,” reached the mountain summit Aug. 31, finishing his trek in 45 days, 12 hours, 15 minutes. He averaged about 48 miles a day.

McConaughy says he did it without outside help. He says he mailed his food and supplies before starting in Georgia.

Northwest hiker Heather “Anish” Anderson claimed the unassisted record in 2015 in 54 days, 7 hours and 48 minutes.

McConaughy holds the assisted speed record for the Appalachian Trail while Anderson holds the unassisted speed record for that 2,660 route.

The hikers used global-positioning data and social media time stamps to back their claims.

Monthly programs back after summer break

CLUBS – After a summer hiatus, Inland Northwest outdoors groups are reviving monthly free programs. Among this week’s offerings:

Gear, apparel consignment: by Mark Schneider of NW Outdoors on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at 6021 E. Mansfield, for Spokane Bicycle Club.

Birding Trinidad and Tobago: by Darlene Carlton and Cathy Mohns on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Road, Coeur d’Alene, for Coeur d’Alene Audubon.

Reading Water: by Chip O’Brien, fly fishing guide and author on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, for Spokane Fly Fishers.

Birding Costa Rica: by Buck Domitrovich on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Riverview Retirement Center, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave., for Spokane Audubon.

Tribes update council on salmon passage

FISHING – An update on the potential for reintroducing chinook to the Columbia River upstream from Chief Joseph will be presented by the Spokane and Colville tribes on Tuesday at 8 a.m. during the Northwest Power and Conservation Council meeting at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane.

The council will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday with an agenda of topics ranging from salmon and sturgeon to aquifer water storage and greenhouse gas emissions.

River Clean-up Saturday

RIVERS – The 14th annual Spokane River Clean-up is set for Saturday morning, with hundreds of individuals, families and groups signing up for two hours of volunteer work.

Helpers will be assigned to pick up trash in certain areas along the river. A rafting group is organizing to collect garbage from their boats.

Sign-up: spokanerivercleanup.org