The A-to-Zs of Central Oregon: K is for KAYAKING


Kayaking is one of our FAVORITE activities in Central Oregon, and we try to get out on the Deschutes River or the Cascade Lakes as often as we can. You can join, too! We'll discuss a bit of the history and nuances of kayaking in this post. 



We owe kayaks to the Inuit in the northern Arctic. The word kayak translates to "hunter's boat," and that's exactly what they used these small, covered vessels for-- hunting and fishing to provide food for their families. The design of the kayak allowed Inuit hunters to sneak up behind their prey without alerting them. 

The Inuit people used many materials to construct their kayaks, but most often the frames were constructed from whalebone, with animal (usually seal) skin to create the body. After gaining popularity among Europeans in the mid-1800s, the design and materials of kayaks began to change in order to incorporate recreational desires. In the 1950s, the first fiberglass kayaks were developed, followed by polyethylene plastic kayaks in the 1980s. 

The sport is now considered one of the most popular water sports in the world, with 10 different white water kayaking events in the Olympics! 

The Basics: What's the Difference
Between Canoeing and Kayaking? 


Apart from the obvious difference in appearance, canoeing and kayaking require different techniques, and gear. Canoes traditionally have an open-top construction, and kayaks are typically closed on top (though you'll notice Wanderlust Tours actually uses an open-top kayak-- we'll get into that later on). 

When canoeing, the paddlers use a single-bladed paddle, paddling on opposite sides of each other for balance. Conversely, kayaking utilizes a double-bladed paddle, and riders paddle on both sides to move forward and backward. Paddlers in canoes generally sit on a wooden bar that crosses the boat, or they kneel on the bottom of the canoe. Kayakers are almost always seated, with their legs stretched out in front of them. Canoes are generally used to carry more people and supplies than kayaks. For this reason, kayaks are often easier to maneuver. 


This sport is so dynamic; there are lots of varieties of kayak, and kayaking! Here are a few: 


Whitewater Kayaking

This is perhaps the most common type of kayaking that comes to mind. There are several genres of whitewater kayaking, but the basic idea is to tackle the more difficult rivers, streams, and creeks where rapids (creating "white water") are present. There are several whitewater kayak designs, depending on the desired

  Photo courtesy of  Mega Kayaks

Photo courtesy of Mega Kayaks

Sea Kayaking

Sea (or "Touring") Kayaks are, as their name suggests, seaworthy, and are generally designed for longer journeys out on the water. These kayaks are less maneuverable than other kayaks, favoring a more elongated shape to increase cruising speed and o allow for more cargo. These kayaks can be used for marine journeys around the world, and can usually accommodate up to three paddlers. 


Surf Kayaking

Surf kayaking is exactly what you think it is: surfing waves on a specially-designed kayak! This has become a popular sport in areas where traditional board surfing occurs. These kayaks are often designed with a flat planing bottom, and a sharp, surfboard-like nose to help crest waves.   

Sit-On-Top Kayaking

This is the type of kayak we use on our Kayaking Tours! These are great kayaks for general recreation, and work great for specialized activities like fishing, diving, swimming, and even surfing! These are easily used by all skill-levels, as they are easy to paddle and very stable. The shape of these kayaks is similar to other traditional kayak shapes, but rather than sitting within the kayak, you're seated in a molded depression on top of the kayak. For this reason, these kayaks are generally more comfortable, accommodating nearly all body sizes and types. 


The A-to-Zs of Central Oregon: J is for JUNIPER


Out in the desert, it's pretty easy to spot these two things: a sea of sage, and JUNIPER TREES! These hardy trees are dotted all across the Central Oregon landscape, and are known for their twisted trunks and pale blue berries. 


The variety of juniper found in Central Oregon is the Western Juniper, or Juniperus occidentalis. These are amazingly hardy trees (understandably so, as they thrive in the arid high-desert conditions). They typically grow 15 to 30 feet tall, but rarely much more than that. 



Juniper does not make for great lumber. Although it may appear to grow straight enough from the outside, the trunk of a juniper grows in a unique spiral beneath its bark. Due to its twisted innards, it is difficult to plane juniper wood. Thank goodness for the straight, tall Ponderosa Pines that fueled the beginning stages of Central Oregon's booming logging industry! (Yes, we'll talk all about that in a later blog post-- stay tuned!) 

  A bed frame made by  Juniper Guy , from Mitchell, OR. 

A bed frame made by Juniper Guy, from Mitchell, OR. 



While juniper is not used for traditional lumber, its unique, twisting bark lends something to creative pursuits. For this reason, it is a popular wood to use in sculpture and furniture-making. 






That's right -- who could forget about GIN? Juniper berries supply the quintessential sharp, piney flavors often associated with gin. Bend's very own Crater Lake Spirits makes a delicious gin, infused with juniper. 


While these trees are beautiful in their own right, they are in fact an INVASIVE SPECIES! Juniper are so good at surviving in this climate, they will elbow their way into the traditionally sagebrush-dominated ecosystem, taking sun, water, and nutrients from any Quaking Aspen, Bitterbrush, Mountain Mahogany, and other species of tree that might have tried to grow there instead. 

  The Ancient Juniper Trail

The Ancient Juniper Trail

Over 9 million acres of Oregon's Central and Eastern landscapes are covered with this tree, which can suck up to 40 gallons of water a day, even from the arid desert soil! In fact, the Western Juniper has made its way into Northern California, Idaho, and Washington, and these lands comprise the largest Western Juniper woodland on earth. It's no wonder that many local companies and businesses refer to the juniper in their names, and logos. 

The A-to-Zs of Central Oregon: I is for INDUSTRY


We've spent plenty of time highlighting the amazing natural features of Central Oregon. Sure, we have beautiful mountains, sweeping plains, deep caves, pristine lakes, and fantastic weather, but did you know we also have a thriving business community? That's why on today's blog post we're discussing some of the amazing stuff that's made right here in the Bend, Oregon area! 


We can always get behind a company that strives to provide a great environmentally-friendly solution for reducing waste. Silipint makes customizable containers of varying shapes and sizes out of a sustainable silicone-based compount. They even make accessories like lids for their cups, and dog bowls! Check out all the fun colors and styles they offer, or design your own on their website



Who doesn't love furry, four-legged friends? Well this great local company makes quality wearable accessories for your pup! Ruffwear makes everything from traditional leashes and harnesses to life jackets for your dog, making it even easier for you to explore each corner of the world together. Bonus: check out their Instagram for your daily dose of adorable dog pictures. 


These are some of the best-smelling candles we've ever come across-- and they're made right here in Bend! Taking their name from the iconic mountain right outside of town, Broken Top Candle Co. makes fantastic-smelling, soy-based candles. They've teamed up with other local companies, like Silipint, to make custom products, too! We actually sell them at our office, so be sure to stop by and snatch up one of these beautiful candles before heading out on one of our tours! 



This is the company that makes those water bottles you see everywhere in Bend-- out on the hiking trails, in coffee shops, at the Rock Gym, and on your coworker's desk at the office! Each season they release a new variety of colors, and many people try to collect multiples of their favorites. Although they've grown to be a huge, multinational company, their roots are firmly planted in Bend, Oregon! 


While we often focus on the outdoor-related activities and businesses in Bend, we appreciate the full spectrum of pursuits that make the Bend area so special. After all, we have the celebrated annual Sister's Folk Festival right next door, and Breedlove Guitars right here in town! These award-winning luthiers craft an array of beautiful guitars, and other stringed instruments. Definitely check out their wares! 



We would love to mention EVERY ONE of the magnificent companies making things in Bend, but we have rivers to canoe, and caves to explore! So for now, we recommend checking out Visit Bend's "Made In Bend" List, the Source Weekly's most recent "Made In Central Oregon" issue, and Downtown Bend's list of vendors