Paddleboarding Down the Owyhee River
Posted on by James Erck
Q&A with Brooks Dame, founder of Proof Eyewear, on his paddleboarding trip down the Owyhee River in Oregon, USA.
Proof: So tell us a little about your trip.
Brooks: Well I recently took my inflatable paddleboard, that I designed for river running, down the Owyhee river. I chatted with the Bureau of Land Management before I went down and told them what I was doing. They told me I was the first to ever solo the Owyhee on a paddle board so it felt a little be like walking on the moon, being the first ever to do it. I was kind of surprised no one had done it before me.
Proof: So why the Owyhee river, why on a paddleboard and why do it alone?
Brooks: I grew up in Eastern Oregon. I’d been fishing on the lower Owyhee below the reservoir and boating on the reservoir a lot growing up. I never knew you could float the river feeding the reservoir. I read an article 2 years ago about floating it and decided that I had to do it. It's only navigable 2-3 months a year depending on the runoff, and it is very remote. It's not the easiest to get to and once you’re on the river getting out is close to impossible. It sounded like an amazing challenge.
In the last 2 to 3 years I’ve gotten more and more into paddleboarding. I’d done it down the Boise River a few times and really enjoyed it. It is different paddling standing up. You get a different feel for the water and the nature around you. I also developed a new standup paddleboard I wanted to test out and see if it’d work in river and whitewater conditions. I also took a pair of Proof Donners with me. They were great. I lost a few items in the rapids but my Proofs stayed put and were great for spotting fish and rocks in the river with the polarized lenses (that was a Proof plug in case you didn’t catch it).
I actually was planning on having a friend or two go, but when it got down to it, none could make it. With the short season I knew I had to do it or I’d have to wait until next year. It was also to challenge myself and get out in nature. Sometimes we get too domesticated as people and comfortable with our lives and conveniences. 50 miles on a river in 2 days, with limited food and supplies, puts things in perspective.
Proof: What can you tell us about the trip?
Brooks: It is otherworldly. It is so untouched and remote; I didn’t see a single person in the 2 days on the river. There are Native American Petroglyphs and natural hotsprings. The landscape is very diverse as well. Around every bend I would be mesmerized by the diversity in the landscape and excited to see what was next. It made the paddling go by a little faster. It is honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been that isn’t a national park. It reminded me a little bit of Zions and the Grand Canyon rolled into one. I also ran into owls, beavers, geese, deer, ducks, checker, and tons of fish. It was great to get away from the day to day life and get out into nature. Sleep under the stars. Push my limits. It is one of the reasons we created Proof, we wanted to have a company that gave back to nature and used eco-friendly materials that way we can preserve places like the Owyhee River and others for all to enjoy.