Friday, July 1, 2011

Trip report: Four days on the Rogue River from Galice, June 2011

Oregon's Rogue River ranks among the best raft trips in the nation so sharing the marvelous river and its canyon with first-timers is great fun just to hear their whoops and hollers around every corner.
This year the Rogue in June was running higher than usual because of a cool rainy spring. High water at 5,600 cfs (cubic feet per second) actually made the river a bit safer because certain more dangerous spots such as Blossom Bar Rapid was nearly submerged.
More water also made it easier for those who row heavy-laden rafts because the current did more work.
We put in near Galice for three nights and four days on the Rogue. A great trip.
Our party of seven in two rafts enjoyed cool but sunny weather, lush green shore-line conditions with small creeks and springs gushing into the river canyon along the way. Birds, deer and one really big bear kept our group busy pointing and talking. We used "bird book" to ID species and type and a Rogue River Float Guide book to keep track of where we were.
The high water and iffy weather in June also meant fewer rafters competing for campsites along the river's edge. Some are great spots with inviting hikes, vistas of the river and wide sandy beaches.
Among our group was a 10-year-old boy and an 18-year-old exchange student from Argentina, both on their first-ever raft trip. The 10-year-old liked the campfires and the group games that he organized in the evenings after dinner. He took to fishing even though our efforts were unsuccessful except for that six-inch-long sucker fish that took the hook close to shore. He learned some camp etiquette, the rules about wearing life jackets near the river's edge and he found out that while grown-ups talk a lot about bears, wild river experiences and such things as snipe-hunting that big talk may not all necessarily be totally true.
The 18-year-old liked his one-man inflatable kayak as he negotiated the Rogue's endless series of rapids and pools. For safety, we took him out of the raft through Mule Creek Canyon and Blossom Bar.
Those unfamiliar with the Rogue may want to know that it starts near Oregon's Crater Lake and flows 215 miles westward to the Pacific Ocean. The river is among the original eight rivers named in the national Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 for its rugged beauty, salmon runs and whitewater rafting. Its designation requires rafters to acquire a float permit timed to a certain day. The federal Bureau of Land Management allows 120 people a day to launch their trips. Rafters are required to carry a portable toilet, keep campfires in a fire box and not have fires at all when the fire season starts in mid-summer. A great hiking trail on the river's north side provides an alternate option for experiencing the Rogue.
This was more than a float trip. Side canyons and feeder streams create tranquil rain forest habitat that are beautiful to photograph. Two points of "civilization" provide breaks from river travel: The Rogue River Ranch, first established in 1887 by a white pioneer,George Billings and his Native American wife, Sarah, will take you back to life on the river 130 years ago when miners and homesteaders were trying to make a fortune, if not a living, in the canyon. The place is now owned by the government and managed by the BLM.
Another inviting spot near Blossom Bar is Paradise Lodge high above the river with lodging and a restaurant makes a nice stop.
Among the niceties of rafting is convenience. Two rafts can carry people and a lot of gear: tents, chairs, tables, lots of food in coolers, plus beer, water and wine. Oh we also enjoyed an outdoor shower with hot water thanks to a fold-up enclosure, a big bucket of hot water and a battery pack for pumping a steady stream to the shower head. Very nice. Dutch ovens - big heavy pots with lids --- produced a salt-encrusted rib roast one night and frittatas for breakfast. We also tried do-it-yourself omelets. The process is pretty simple: Break two eggs in a small-size freezer bag, squish them up, add a few other ingredients of your choice such as chopped peppers, cilantro, shredded cheese and a bit of onion. Drop the sealed bag into a pot of boiling water. Two minutes or so later, you've got a gorgeous omelet.
Memories of the Rogue in June 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment