This past weekend I journeyed northward for a long overdue trip down the Rogue River. A Tahoe contingency combined with an Oregonian posse to fly fish and float the Wild & Scenic section that starts just down the road from Galice at Grave Creek. We were fortunate to have 3 days of sunny weather complemented by beautiful fall foliage and a flow of 1250 cfs. Much bourbon was consumed, an excessive amount of shit was talked, and few fish were caught.
The Rogue is one of those classic rivers in Oregon that I have frankly always put off because there is so much to paddle in California. It is not a challenging run in terms of difficult whitewater, but it is a wonderful experience for any river enthusiast because it is filled with impressive scenery, abundant wildlife, and rich history.
If I recollect correctly, there are basically three distinct canyons with the first and third containing the only noteworthy rapids of any distinction. The first one is Rainey Falls. It contains a rather stompy hole on river left, which can easily be avoided. The second is Blossom Bar, which is generally run on the left.
I was paddling a Dagger Kingpin, which allowed me the freedom to explore interesting lines in both of these rapids. The rest of the time I sought out any play I could find.
We saw several bald eagles and deer over the course of the trip, and I had a river otter paddle by me just a few feet away. On the first day, there was an abundant amount of salmon spawning up the river, and it was fantastic to watch them leap clear out of the water around almost every bend.
The second night we camped just down from the Rogue River Ranch. It is a neat place with an old museum and several other interesting structures that were sold to the Bureau of Land Management under the Wild and Scenic Act. You can read more about it here. Suffice to say, it contains over 8,000 years of history involving both Indians and white pioneers. You may feel like a discoverer making your way down the Rogue River corridor, but the fact is many people have come before you. The Rogue has been used as source of sustenance, travel, protection, mining, and recreation for a long time.
As one who appreciates the incredible force of rivers, I will not forget the black and white photograph inside the museum that showed the Rogue at a tremendous level back in 1964. We were a great distance above the natural banks of the river, say, 100ft or more; yet, a grainy photograph showed the river coursing over the very ground we were standing on. When nature decides to kick ass, get out of the way.
The Rogue is another example of what proper resource management can accomplish. It could be buried under a dam project or polluted to the point of no return. Instead, it is a source of revenue for local outfitters and businesses, and it allows for visitors and locals alike to experience wilderness and history unabated in a unique and preserved wilderness setting.
We must continue to preserve our rich natural heritage.