Trip Report from the River - What's going on on the Rogue?
"It's going to be a hot one!" was the cheery announcement from Katrina, our trip leader. There were 5 of us in the front of the truck - still groggy and waiting for the coffee to kick in. The truck, affectionately named Howie, was loaded for the trip - trailer with rafts and soft gear, the truck with all the coolers and boxes. We started down the drive, honked the horn good-bye to the guide house and another trip on the Rogue has started.
Upon seeing the boat ramp at Almeda was already crowded with boats and people, we continued downstream to the Argo launch. With five senior guides, the deconstruction of the load job was easy. Boats were topped off, frames strapped down, coolers placed and kayaks inflated. All we needed now were some willing participants and we were ready to go. Katrina and Ian left to meet the guests and Maggie, Nick and I stayed to put the finishing touches on the rigging.
Forty-five minutes later the van rolled up and our new companions tumbled out. The parents gazed around, examining the gear and eying the life jackets, taking in the craggy walls across from the launch spot and the osprey circling above. The kids immediately started to run around- darting from boat to bags to kayak and back to parents. The excitement was palpable. Katrina gave the safety talk, we fit everyone with their jackets, and introduced them to the inflatable kayaks. It is time for the river!!
Ahh… the start of another Rogue River trip. This season on the Rogue started with chilly weather and high water. Oregon delivered up rain for much of May and the early part of June which brought great, fun water levels for early boaters. Our first trip of the season launched with just over 4000 cfs. The rapids were big and fun with Blossom Bar uncharacteristically filled with water. These boaters were hearty- and well equipped with rain gear. Additionally, our new tarps (thanks River Hardware!) worked like a charm so camps were cozy and mostly dry. Of course a hot meal cooked riverside will warm up anyone!!
By mid-June however, southern Oregon weather was turning to its usual summer pattern. Clear sunny days were followed by mild, starry nights- perfect for sleeping outside.
The water levels started to decline, approaching normal July flows of around 2000 cfs. Those levels will continue to slowly decline through the summer. The upstream dams keep water flowing throughout the summer on the Wild and Scenic stretch - great for rafting!!
The wildlife on the Rogue has been outstanding this year. The osprey population continues to dominate the sky and the fishing. Bald eagles make frequent appearances - often to challenge the smaller osprey for their catch. The ‘dogfights’ between these great birds of prey are something to see!
The merganser and Canada geese families are common to see this time of year. When they are really small, the merganser ducklings will hitch a ride on their mom’s back. Sometimes the whole brood will end up there! It gives new meaning to the term ’mamma duck’! Kingfisher, stellar jay, and all variety of songbirds greet the morning (and all of us!) each morning.
The biggest excitement of course is to see a bear. Every trip on the Rogue so far this year has had at least one sighting. One lucky trip watched a sow and two small cubs eating and cavorting across from their camp at Lower Solitude. Another trip watched a young bear eating riverside grass as they floated by in the boats. He glanced at us a few times but seemed wholly unconcerned and kept grazing.
Of course, as usual, the food has been great. There were a few minor changes to our usual menu. We added a yummy Mediterranean pasta salad for lunch and are adding more and more organic and local products to the shopping list. With an increasing number of our guests being vegetarians, our chefs are experimenting with veggie options. Grilled portabellas with balsamic and feta, Curries with tofu and bean salads are all making more and more frequent appearances.
We’ve had several of our specialty trips run already. Our June Kid’s Trip was a raucous success with fully half of the 20-person trip under the age of 16. Water fights and camp games including blazo (boatmen’s tug-o-war) and adventure bocce ball ruled the day. The last morning dawned “Pirate Day” complete with eye patches and pirate flags!
Musicians Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum headlined our annual bluegrass trip. The Rogue’s clear mild evenings lent themselves well to starlit concerts around the chair circle. An impromptu guide skit lent to the festive air with dancing and glow sticks adding to the atmosphere of celebration.
Yes - summer on the Rogue can’t be beat. The water is warm, perfect for swimming and inflatable kayaking The camps are beautiful and the dining is great (and you don’t even have to do the dishes!). And of course, the river - the slower more contemplative sections and the bouncy fun whitewater - is incomparable. Come join us!!