Expedition Oregon 2022 Commentary
Whoa! Anyone else at home wondering if they’d tackle these rapids? Stage 3 of the race is a great example of what Bend Racing is all about. They present the challenge and it’s up to the team to decide what they can handle. It brings me back to wondering, does Jason really not give damn if anyone finishes the race? Well… rapids are a force of nature for sure! They will have their way with you. It’s obvious even the best paddlers found this river to be challenging to say the least.
In Expedition Oregon in 2018, similar to the first leg of this race, the trek leg took my team much longer than expected. We were relatively new to expedition length racing and we had just met in person the day before the race. We arrived at the first TA just as the sun was setting. It was the start of a similar burly packraft leg. There was no darkzone, but it didn’t take us all that long to decide that it was too dangerous to run the river at night. With the rushing of rapids within earshot and with our paddle gear on our backs, we hiked ALL NIGHT LONG. Soul crushing as it was, it was the right decision for us. Of course, our goals had to be adjusted. And, thanks to my teammates whose names you might recognize, Darren Steinbach (Assistant Race Director this year), Chris Paterson (racing with CP0 this year) and Andy Wentzel, we pushed through and made it to the finish line 3 ½ days later. What an accomplishment!
This year, there has been plenty of carnage, but there were options to portage and warnings to scope big rapids before running them. They even had a mandatory hypothermia check and safety boats in the water. On top of that, there is a hiking trail along the river that I imagine at least some teams used more than once to gain some ground or get some relief from the cold water. Does this sound like a race director that doesn’t care who finishes? Maybe, but more importantly, he’s delivering on what teams have signed up for: a year of hardcore adventure condensed into 5 days. Epic!