This past Sunday I hoisted my drift boat out of the Wild & Scenic Deschutes River and onto my trailer. It signaled the end of my seventh overnight journey down the river this year.
The short version of these river trips consists of rowing a drift boat, fishing, and camping.
The long version means so much more.
You join nature’s gym.
Each trip, I return mentally refreshed and physically tired. The Deschutes’ reputation for boulder gardens and slick volcanic edges makes for leg weary days. Balanced with time on the oars, the voyage delivers a full body workout. The “ stabilize on a boulder in fast water” or "carry 5 gallons of water up a slippery slope to camp" machines only exist in nature's gym.
You realize how little you need.
On all of these trips, I packed two pairs of underwear and only wore one. Actually, on one trip I wore none. When there is no need to judge your wardrobe, you don’t wear one. You wear what you need and you realize how little you need.
You get dirty.
Your gear gets dirty. Your body gets dirty. Your food gets dirty. Everything gets dirty. I’ve yet to fall ill from this addition of dirt in my life. A cold river cleanse never feels better. No soap, just wash off the dirt, refresh your senses, and get dirty again.
You sleep under the stars.
On all seven trips, I slept under the stars in a hammock. My best nights of sleep fall under these starry skies. When I wake in the night, the view can’t be matched by the world’s best bedrooms.
You bond with your dog.
It’s no secret I love my dog, and this friendship only strengthens on the river. I’ve fished with a golden retriever at my side nearly my entire life. I far prefer fishing with a dog than not fishing with a dog. On this most recent trip, I walked upstream to a fishing hole, leaned my fly rod against a tree, laid down in the grass, and pet my dog. Then I fished.
As I expressed in my last post, we need social interactions for optimum health. We also need to disconnect. The river forces you to put down your phone. Verizon Wireless hasn’t reached the depths of the Deschutes Canyon, and this is a good thing.
More and more I ask myself: where does this passion for life on the river come from?
I believe I can thank our hunter-gatherer forefathers. It runs in our blood. At least in my lineage. Even the dog part. I’m almost certain I inherited the dominate dog loving, fishing genes in the Corbin Family Tree.
Let’s be clear, I have zero desire to go back to the hunter-gatherer ways of the nomadic Corbins. I believe we’re living better lives than anyone who has come before us thanks to the gifts of modern society. A delayed flight to Hawaii is now considered a big problem. Really? That’s a big problem?
Long story short, I’ve always enjoyed my time spent in nature. Only now, am I pondering the bigger role it plays in my life. I'm exploring the joys of living that hunter-gatherer life.
If a trip down the Deschutes heightens this happiness, take me to the river.