Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Presidents' Day Rogue Trip Report

Ten kayakers were part of a total of 48 OWA and OKCC boaters who launched on the Rogue Valentine's Day. Snow on the hills attested to the chilly conditions. Grave Creek Rapids always give a quick taste of what is to come, but it was easy cruising on down to Rainie Falls and through the Fish Ladder, although Erik made a nice run down the Middle Chute. Some of us hopped out to assist the rafts through, and many of them really needed the help, particularly some of the big cats.

From there it was on down through Tyee, Wildcat, the Howard Creek Chutes and Slim Pickens. All were pretty fun and enough activity to keep sufficiently warm. Plowshare is usually a tricky rapid, and it was up to its usual tricks, although we all came out right side up and in our boats at the bottom. Upper Black Bar, with its blind extreme right hand entry, was a challenge, with a bit of a pileup at the bottom, and a rockwall-assisted roll by one paddler.

Horseshoe Bend Camp was just a mile and a half cruise further, and we arrived early enough, at 1:15, that a couple of us went hiking, something I always enjoy doing on the Rogue. The Rogue River Trail runs all the way, top to bottom, on the north side of the river. It's a sketchy scramble up a way trail, though, to get to the main trail from Horseshoe Bend Camp. This camp is enormous and easily accomodated our large group.

We had a great Stroganoff dinner, a prelude to an evening of rain. Fortunately, Sunday dawned dry and slightly warmer than Saturday. At these flows, about 3,300 cfs at Agness, it's easy, pleasant cruising down to Mule Creek. We took our usual break there for a quick snack and stretch, reviewed the rapids to come, and then headed into Mule Creek Canyon. Everything was pretty straightforward as we passed Jaws, went through the S-Turns, passed Telfer's Hole and The Narrows, but Coffee Pot was pretty nasty. I slipped through on a sucking seam to turn around to see a compatriot do his second roll. Good work! Possibly looking for more excitement, one kayaker swam out. The toughest part is over after Coffee Pot, but it still took some scrambling to get him reunited with his boat and paddle. Fortunately, Ernie was waiting in his raft to assist.

Most first timers scout Blossom Bar, unless they are confident class 4 boaters, so we had an opportunity to hop out and take a good look at the rapid. It's long and complicated, but remarkably straightforward for skilled paddlers. We all had good runs. After Blossom Bar, the river lets up. Although Devil's Stair, right around the corner, caused another swim. At this flow, the entrance wave breaks pretty sharply and powerfully. With 5 miles to go to our camp at Tacoma, I cruised on ahead, since I was the Meal Captain for dinner. Boaters straggled in for the next hour and a half. Tacoma Camp is another really nice camp, roomy, with a large kitchen area. The meal of pasta with red sauce disappeared pretty fast.

Kitchen duties kept me from hiking in the afternoon, but at dawn I headed to the trail. Downriver, the trail crosses an unstable slide area, and when it seemed to go on that way forever, I headed back upriver past Tate Creek, which is more scenic anyway.

The 6 mile morning paddle out sometimes seems like a chore, but it starts with the 2 class 3 rapids, Tacoma and Clayhill, and it's really scenic. Once past the Clayhill Stillwater, the river starts moving again. Once more I spotted a bald eagle at Shasta Costa Creek. More often than not, there seems to be one there. I also spotted an otter just above the take-out, one of many seen by the group on this trip. Wonderfully, it was sunny and pleasant at the Foster Bar take-out. Snow in the hills required us to drive to Gold Beach and up 101 on our return.

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