Rogue River Raft Trip June 2006

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We met bright and early at 5 AM at Catlin. Amazingly, everyone was there by 5:05 AM. The five-hour bus ride provided a good opportunity to catch up on sleep. We arrived at the Rand boat launch at 10:30. We all transferred our clothes and sleeping bags to large dry bags, picked up our life jackets and helmets, and prepared to get on the river.

The stretch of the Rogue leading up to the Wild and Scenic section contains mainly class II rapids, with a couple III’s and one class V that we sneak around using the “Fish Ladder”. Our first challenge came at Grave Creek rapid, as there was a cross-wave about half way down that flipped a few of our kayakers. Aim your boat at the wave! This provided an opportunity to practice proper swimming techniques and some rescuing. At Rainey Falls, the Fish Ladder route is not really a fish ladder, but it is like one. It’s a narrow chute that drops in steps, with a couple big pillow-type rapids toward the bottom. Everyone navigated it well, and then we looked upstream at the huge Rainey Falls. We finished the day at Tyee rapid, a class III wavetrain with a bend to the left. Our campsite was at the bottom.

The weather was great, so no need for tents. We set up our cots and sleeping bags under the stars. After a hearty meal, we played tug of war while standing on ammo cans. Thalia and Jeff were pretty good at it. Pongi told some scary stories and her river front sleeping location became overcrowded with scared MS students.

Day 2: Wildcat Creek to Missouri Creek

We woke up around 7:30 AM, ate breakfast, and then broke camp. We rotated our kayakers to allow others to try the inflatable craft. Some liked to double-up in the kayaks. This day had the most rapids, and it started off quickly with Wildcat rapids (III). Upper and Lower Black Bar Falls provided some challenges, mainly for those who didn’t follow the directions “stay RIGHT”. We learned that following directions is a good strategy for avoiding swims, and often there is a very good reason why you don’t want to hit the “exciting” part of the river. There were a couple of jumping rocks that we stopped at. Pongi lost her watch jumping off one of them. Tara demonstrated an excellent ferry swim across the river while we watched other people jumping off the rock. Joseph and Helene tried their hands at captaining the paddle raft and oar raft.

We camped at Missouri Creek. In our free time, we waded in the eddy and washed off all that sunscreen. Card-playing, particularly Hearts, was popular, and a bit competitive at times. Nicholas and Robert took naps, though that didn’t work so well as they were next to the card players.

Day 3: Missouri Creek to Paradise Bar

This was the shortest paddling day, and there were some class IV sections that the students needed to ride the rafts for. We stopped for about an hour at the Rogue River Ranch. There is a small museum there with old photos, including ones from a flood that occurred awhile back. Mule Creek runs just below the ranch property, so we went down there and found another jumping rock.

The Rogue River was running at a higher level during this trip, so Mule Creek canyon wasn’t really that bad. Normally it is like a bubbling coffee pot (percolating), but due to the higher water, there wasn’t so much of that. Blossom Bar rapid is known for its “picket fence” hazard on the left side. As the kayakers waited in the eddy above, the paddle raft made its run. On the way through, the raft got jolted and went to the left. Luckily, the water was high enough that they were able to slip through the picket fence section. Jeff led the kayakers through the rapid (the CORRECT way), utilizing an eddy on the right side of the chute. The last major rapid was Devil’s Staircase. There was a big hole at the top, which some other commercial rafters ran through, but the real hazard was a swirling eddy half way down with the undercut rocks (the “Room of Doom”)! We all snuck around this rapid along the left edge.

We camped at Paradise Bar, near the Paradise Lodge. Robert demonstrated his natural abilities by scoring a hole-in-one in “cheek darts”. We saw a black bear a hundred yards or so downriver. More card games…hearts and Egyptian rat screw. We needed a lantern.

Day 4

The last stretch, leading up to the Foster Bar takeout, had more flat sections than the previous days. Tara and Helene spent time captaining rafts. There were a few good rapids though. Clay Hill rapid had a hole that spread about 2/3 across the river. The goal was to slip around it to the left. Chase and Gregor were perfectly lined up behind Jeff, but then stopped paddling. This caused them to drift sideways right into the hole and flip. Within the next 15-20 seconds, Jeff had collected both of their paddles, hauled Chase into the back of his kayak, and was yelling at Gregor to swim for an eddy. John Mills collected the empty kayak, and the boys went back for more punishment.

We arrived at the take-our around 1 PM. After a long shuttle ride back to Galice, we boarded our bus and we on own way by 4 PM. It was another long bus ride back to Portland, but we had our cards, snacks, and some good memories.