Rogue River Trip Report

Rogue River Trip Report:
Graves Creek to Foster Bar Self Support
5/3/14-5/5/14
3,800 cfs

Earlier in May I had the opportunity to check another classic multi-day river trip off of my list by heading down to Merlin, Oregon and putting onto the Rogue River for a fantastic adventure.  After working at the store for nearly 3 weeks straight, this 3-day trip on the river with a group of friends was a very welcome chance to decompress after a hectic spring sale.  The Rogue River trip is an absolute classic multi-day adventure that had always eluded me.  After completing the journey, I don’t think I could ever go so long without doing it again.  Although this trip was my first self support adventure on a river, I quickly found that years of multi-day sea kayaking adventures prepared me well for the challenge of properly loading all of my belongings into my creek boat (BTW I could not endorse the LG Karma enough for this type of trip; I could have easily packed twice as much stuff in there and still had room to spare) at the Graves Creek boat ramp just west of Galice.  The action starts right away with Graves Creek Rapids (class III) and then the river settles into its pool drop character and establishes a nice rhythm of features and flat water all combined with breathtaking scenery.  Fairly soon we came upon Rainie Falls, and after dodging poison oak down the hiking trail to scout it, I opted to run the fish ladder on the far right which was a fun, splashy ride into the eddy below.  Numerous wave trains and small drops dotted the next 15 or so miles until we reached our camp at Big Windy Creek on day 1.  Were it not for the bugs, I would have slept out underneath the dazzling array of stars, but the mosquitoes were biting so I settled for an obstructed view through the mesh of the tent (no rain fly, though!) and caught some much needed sleep for the mammoth day that lay ahead.  Day 2 of our Rogue River trip was an epic slog through most of the famous portions of the Rogue, we covered almost 25 miles that day of hair raising rapids and flat water stretches through river canyon walls that appear almost completely untouched by the modern world.  Most of the day was straightforward point & shoot river running through many fun class III drops which all provided a nice warm up for the crux of the whole run, Mule Creek Canyon and Blossom Bar.  Mule Creek was stunning: the river winds through sheer rock walls and has many small cascades tumbling into the narrow, swirly channel.  Mule Creek was in fact so beautiful that I felt compelled to check out the “fish perspective” for a second or two.  Fortunately I rolled up and didn’t have to test out the dryness of any of my bags or find out just what I hadn’t secured well enough into my kayak.  Directly after Mule Creek Canyon lies Blossom Bar, an ugly, bouldery jumble that looked significantly harder in a raft than it was in a kayak.  After some scouting and deliberation on river right, I saw my line and scrambled back down the bank (still dodging poison oak left and right) and climbed back into my kayak.  Everyone in the group styled the rapid and we rejoiced by paddling for another 7 miles through flat water to find an unoccupied campsite.  Sunday morning was a dreary and rainy paddle to Foster Bar boat ramp, which was mercifully short and sweet without many rapids of note.  Peeling off the wet paddling layers and warming up again with some hot cocoa while we waited for our shuttle rig to arrive hit the spot almost as much as cracking a couple of victory beers during the windy shuttle ride back to Merlin.

DT all smiles on the Rogue River trip!  Photo by Heath Barber
DT all smiles on the Rogue River trip! Photo by Heath Barber

I could not recommend this trip highly enough; the Rogue is a magical place with scenery and whitewater that stacks up against any trip anywhere.  If you’re going to go, here are a couple of recommendations: mind the poison oak, it is seriously everywhere and can ruin a trip (or the 2 weeks after) very quickly.  The early bird doesn’t have to paddle through the wind in the afternoon, get up and get moving so you can be off the river once it gets windy.  Bring a camera, I wish I had brought one to capture just a few of the sights and the natural beauty of this place.  Instead of paying someone to shuttle your car to the takeout, pay them less money to come pick you up and bring you back to the put in, this is so the way to go it’s not even a joke.  Think about it: you can have them use your gas and drive your car like it’s an off road rally and have it sit unattended at the boat ramp for who knows how long, or you can leave your car behind a locked gate for 3 days and have someone else with a trailer grab you and your gear and chauffeur you back, plus it is legal to drink in the shuttle rig as long as you don’t sit up front.  Stop making excuses and go do this Rogue River trip, you will only regret not having done it sooner!

-David Trageser

Check out some photos of the trip by Heath Barber HERE!