Kayaking East Lake

Bend’s Miley Morical, 10, kayaks along the west shore of East Lake in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument on Saturday.

I certainly do not need another hobby, or more gear to buy.

But leave it to a 10-year-old to encourage you to try new things.

My daughter, Miley, wanted to kayak. I still had bad memories of struggling my way upstream along the Deschutes River during the Pole Pedal Paddle multisport race a few years ago, the last time I had kayaked.

But flatwater paddling sounded more inviting, and Miley talked me into it. So I made reservations for a tandem kayak rental at Elk Lake at the end of August.

The morning water was calm and glasslike as we eased out away from the Elk Lake Marina and toward the middle of the lake, which turned from green to dark blue as we paddled out along the deeper water.

The 250-acre lake, located 32 miles southwest of Bend off Cascade Lakes Highway, has a depth of 25 to 65 feet.

During the summer, watersports enthusiasts come to Elk Lake for an endless array of activities: sailing, windsurfing, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding and beachcombing. And the 10 mph speed limit keeps the buzz of motors down and big waves at a minimum if the wind is light. Opportunities to paddle the lake can last well into the fall before the snow arrives.

Fishing is not as popular on Elk Lake, but the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks the lake with 50,000 trout fingerlings — 30,000 brooks and 20,000 cutthroat — each year in late June or early July. The lake also supports naturally reproducing kokanee, but the main catch is the brook trout.

We paddled the tandem kayak fairly easily along the calm water, synchronizing our strokes while making our way toward the south end of the lake and shallower water. We tried to spot fish swimming in the shallows.

On Elk Lake, the views are about as good as they get in the Central Oregon Cascades. South Sister towers over the north end of the lake, and the south side of Mount Bachelor looms to the northeast.

We hugged the shoreline on the east end of the lake, making our way toward the north end and back around to the marina.

Dozens of sailboats gathered on the north end as we pulled into the marina, our two-hour outing at an end.

Turns out, Miley and I enjoyed kayaking so much that I booked another trip, this time to East Lake, for this past Saturday.

East Lake Resort also rents tandem kayaks, and I secured one for yet another morning paddle.

Tucked high into the Newberry National Volcanic Monument east of La Pine at 6,381 feet, East Lake is first and foremost a fishing lake. During the summer the lake is filled with boats of anglers vying for rainbow trout, brown trout and kokanee.

But kayaking has increased in popularity on the lake in recent years as a way of exploring its unique shoreline.

It was an inauspicious start to our paddle as wind and waves made it quite difficult. I told Miley that we would head toward the north side of the lake where I knew we could hug the shoreline and hide from the wind.

Once there, we enjoyed the interesting rock formations, as one section of the shore is lined by towering rock walls. After we rounded the final wall, a bald eagle left its perch from a tree and flew directly over us.

On the west end of East Lake, we explored the clear, light-green water and took a break on a beach of white pumice. The setting was almost tropical, if we weren’t high atop an old volcano.

We continued to follow the shoreline as we rounded the south end of the lake and watched an osprey fly overhead, occasionally making a dive for a fish.

According to my Garmin watch, by the time we arrived back at East Lake Resort we had paddled about 7,500 meters (nearly 5 miles) in 2 1/2 hours, compared with 5,700 meters (3 1/2 miles) in 2 hours on our Elk Lake outing.

We were already improving.

“Kayaking makes me strong, and there’s lots of things to see,” Miley said later. “But I just like being on the water.”

Me too. Now I guess I have to buy a kayak.

Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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