This We Like, 57

Going for it

Benham Falls outside of Bend, Oregon     Photo: Frank Kovalchek

It was the summer of 2002, and my buddy Jake and I had just moved to Bend, Oregon. I was 20 and Jake was 19. I think that’s why we thought building a raft out of fallen trees and clothesline and floating an unfamiliar section of river seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea. Each Thursday, Bend hosted a concert along the Deschutes River in a park downtown. The plan was to put in a few miles upstream and arrive in grand style, impressing all the young women in attendance. Half a mile from our start, however, the river began channelizing, the water speeding up through Class II–III rapids. Then a sign warned of waterfalls. After some debate, we decided to abandon ship. Crestfallen, we watched from shore as our raft cartwheeled and splintered through Class IV–V rapids. We hiked back to the start and made our way to the show the same way everybody else did: by car. It didn’t matter. After nearly dying on a raft you built yourself, talking to girls is pretty easy.

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