It was a chilly morning for mid-August in central Oregon when my phone rang. Jordan Schiff was calling me back about his lost wedding ring, again. I recognized that he had left me a voicemail the day before, but I had neglected to call him back having just gotten off a 5 day steelhead float on the lower Deschutes myself.
“I lost my wedding ring while paddle-boarding on the middle Deschutes yesterday,” Jordan said. A few minutes of conversation revealed that Jordan had found me through theringfinders.com website and he had a pretty good idea of where he lost it, and the current wasn’t too swift nor the channel too deep. Better than that, Jordan volunteered (voluntold, really) his buddy Chris to do the wet work, if I could just locate the ring. That sounded like a good plan to me. The temperature had dropped 30 degrees in the past 24 hours and instead of highs in the 90s we were looking at 65 and windy. Afternoons on the high desert find the wind picking up and the temperature dropping rapidly. I was happy to have a motivated fellow to do the diving. The odds of recovery seemed pretty good. Water can be tough, though. Unlike land that is relatively stationary, where we often find rings decades after they are lost, the constant flow of water can transport lost items a long way. Jordan was tied up at work until 4pm, and I had some morning requirements of my own as well. We agreed to meet in the evening when we were both free.
Jordan had been paddle-boarding with Chris when he lost the ring. He was floating along in the water, around an island, when he felt it fall off. He knew within a foot or so where he had lost it. Chris and Jordan searched for it for quite awhile, even dropping other heavy objects in the current to see how far they would travel, but were unable to find the ring. The bottom was softball or larger cobble, with hundreds of hiding spots for the ring.
There was a newly constructed house adjacent to the island, and while I waited for Jordan and Chris to arrive I made contact with the owner, explained I was going to search for a lost wedding ring in the river, and asked permission to access the river through her yard. She was very pleasant and gave us permission, gladly. Thank you ma’am! That was a nice gesture and made our search a lot easier.
Jordan and Chris arrived, we accessed the river through the nice lady’s yard, and moments later had waded through 10-12” of water for about 15 feet to access the island. At the bottom of the island Jordan pointed out a wonderful little beach spot and a channel on the opposite side of the island where they had been swimming when he lost the ring. He had a good landmark – a large boulder, and knew he was about 8 feet upriver when the ring came off.
I’d brought my waters and wading boots (no need to get wet when Chris and Jordan were so willing), fired up my detector and waded into the current to test the depth and current. The current wasn’t bad, I could easily stand against it, but the water got progressively deeper as I waded past Jordan’s landmark rock to a depth too deep to search without diving equipment. I hoped the ring had hung up in the cobble upriver, but feared that it may be in the deep water, especially if Jordan and Chris had spent a lot of time the previous day searching and moving rocks and shuffling around with their feet. I put on my headphones and went to work.
Jordan ready and waiting as I start my search.
I started upriver, in the shallower parts of the channel. I used Jordan’s 8 foot reference and started a few feet higher, just in case he was mistaken. I worked methodically in 2-3 feet of water, downriver in 6-8, sweeps, glad that wasn’t too much metal debris setting off my detector. Although I could stand against the current, the coil of the detector would get swept away, making it hard to make consistent passes. I opted to slow down and be redundant rather than miss a target due to current.
Voila! 4 or 5 feet downriver from my starting point, and just a foot or so below the location Jordan said he’d lost it, I had a good target. Bing, bing…yes, repeatable and in the right range. I motioned to the guys and they grabbed their facemasks, bounding into the water like school children at the beach. They eagerly dove in, removing rocks and anxiously scratching and the bottom as I tried to show them the target location with my coil. Every now and then I would re-scan the area, trying to pinpoint it with more accuracy. Then, silence. The target was gone…we had moved it. It was lost.
I broadened my search pattern, hoping that we hadn’t just knocked it into the deep water. The current had more velocity downriver and it was getting deeper. Accurate scanning was difficult. But, what was that? I tone. A good tone? Hard to stay over it though in the current. Is it really there? I think so. Scan, scan again…yes, there is something there. And, a good signal too. I think we’re back on it.
This time I told Jordan and Chris to be methodical. Remove rocks gently and look around the edges. Let the current carry away the dirt and look in the hole. I had it squarely pinpointed off the front of my coil. The guys went back to work, with the patience of Job. They converged on the area from both sides and while one stopped to take a breath the other dove. The water was about 4 feet deep and there was enough current that they couldn’t hold and were swept downriver quickly. Time and time again they dove. – Move a rock, wait, look, surface, breathe and repeat. In between breaths I scanned…yes, it was still there. They took turns diving and breathing.
Jordan was next to dive. Chris had surfaced as Jordan was going down. Each attempt only lasted 20-30 seconds since the current would tear the diver away, down stream. Shortly after Jordan dove, Chris had taken a good breath and went down. All was quiet on the surface as the two submerged friends hunted in the depths in front of me. Suddenly, a roar from the deep as if a seamount had just let loose on the Deschutes River. It was Jordan, exploding with joy, still underwater, removing a rock to see his shining palladium ring glistening below. Jordan surfaced, beaching like a grey whale, the hand and arm holding the ring reaching for the sky.
All three of us burst from the water to the beach, high fives all around, examining Jordan’s ring as he put it back on his finger where it belonged. “I hadn’t taken it off since we got married more than four years ago,” Jordan explained. “I’m so happy it’s back where it belongs. My wife will be so happy.”
Jordan would later explain that it was truly a Lord of the Rings moment, as his Precious revealed itself, as if on fire, in the dark depths of the Deschutes River. For me, it’s another successful hunt, two good friends made, another ring back where it belongs…not lost for all time in the darkness of the Deschutes River. Congratulations Jordan, and thank you both for being willing to do the wet work. You guys are awesome, and thanks for the beer!!!
One ring to rule them ALL!