Rafting on the Rogue

Our entire group taking a break for lunch

After 3 days and two nights of camping that included two full days of rafting on the Rogue River, we are back on the grid and ready to enter the final phase of the Tour d’ Oregon… wine country and coastal sights. But before we get to that, let me catch you up on the past three days.

After loading up and getting some last minute supplies (mainly booze!), we made the drive from Klamath Falls over the Cascades to the Rogue Valley. At around 2 p.m. we rolled into our campground at Almeda Park, located on the Rogue River about 15 miles west of Merlin, OR. Already, the mini-homestead that would be our base of operations for the next three days was taking shape. Two of our group’s RV trailers were already set-up, and the other two RV campers quickly scoped the landscape to begin setting up their rigs. Meanwhile, the intrepid tent-campers began to unload gear and set-up our respective tents. It really is quite a sight to see the site take shape over the course of the afternoon as more and more of our large family and friends group arrived from various points across Oregon and from as far away as Seattle. Ultimately, our homestead consisted of two campers, two trailers, seven tents, a full kitchen and washing station, and even a portable toilet for the those inevitable middle-of-the-night urges (… with strict rules that it is only to be used for liquid relief!).

The quiet moments before everyone wakes up…

After everyone was set-up, it was time to get down to the business of relaxing and enjoyment of camp life… catching up on each other’s lives, enjoying some refreshing beverages and tasty snacks, some competitive games of corn hole, and as always doing our best to poke at everyone’s quirks. Dinner was prepared by our 3 retired firefighters (Larry, Rich and Jim) and the supporting cast of their wives who provided all the sides. Then it was the typical campfire routine, and the gradual, quiet shuffling off to bed to rest up for the next two days of rafting.

Rafting Day 1:

Day 2 of camping began bright and early for me at about 4:30 a.m., so I used the time to play around with some of the night lapse settings on my camera to get some shots of the stars, make the fire, and get the coffee brewing. Shortly after, around 5:15, Sue popped out of her tent and we chatted a bit (quietly… I thought… until later when at least 5 different people told me I had woken them up!)

Just before dawn…

Over the course of the next two hours, the rest of the group woke and a hearty breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and thick cut bacon was prepared and enjoyed by all. We then began our preparations for a day on the river. Coolers were packed, the first of many applications of sunscreen were applied, we discussed logistics and river safety, then headed out to the river.

Today’s float was from Hog Creek back to our campsite at Almeda. Although the river seems to be running a bit low, the day was quite fun. The rapids were a bit tamer than in past years, but that didn’t diminish the fun. Our on-river group included 3 large rafts, each with 4 people; one “paddle raft” piloted by 6 of the 20-30’s crowd; one single-person pontoon; and 3 kayaks. After a couple hours we stopped for lunch at our favorite partially shaded sandy beach. Refreshed and refueled, we then headed back down the river. Since we got a later than normal start, the larger rafts had to work quite hard as they were rowing directly into the face of the typical afternoon westward winds that blow up the river from the coast. On the river we saw a bit of wildlife, including 3 bald eagles, and off in the distance what appeared to be a developing forest fire that was getting some aid from the afternoon winds.

One of many fires in the area.
Part of our flotilla on the river… another beautiful day!

Finally around 5 p.m. we landed back in camp, tired and ready to clean up and relax… and to enjoy all the fixings of our “Taco Night” dinner! After dinner a new camp game called Kubb was introduced and proved to be an entertaining competition to watch between two teams of 4. After that it was another early bedtime to get fully rested for whatever adventures we’ll have tomorrow when we will see a different part of the river.

Rafting Day 2:

During our second day of rafting, we retraced the lower portion of the first day’s route, then proceeded past our campsight after we stopped there for lunch. The highlight of the morning had to be witnessing an Osprey attempt to lift a large trout out of the water within 25 feet of our boats. This all started when we heard, but did not see, a splash in the water… a few seconds later, the osprey which was totally submerged, exploded through the surface of the water, flapping its wings madly as it attempted to lift what appeared to be 12 inch trout out of the water! Ultimately the prize was too big and the fish was lost back to the river.

Osprey with eyes a bit bigger than its stomach!

After lunch, we continued down the Rogue enjoying the views as the canyon narrowed a bit and the water seemed to move a bit faster. One of the favorite places to stop is “jump rock” where we witnessed some very high jumps, a dive, and even a backflip! Then it was off to the biggest rapid of the trip which features two large rocks to be avoided in the churning water. Fortunately the smaller crafts all maneuvered well through the section and completed it unscathed. But, two of the three large rafts broadsided the upstream rock due to the force of the water and dumped everyone into the river. Luckily, all those who suddenly were wet when they were supposed to be dry had listened to the safety brief, and executed the proper technique in the water to avoid injury. In the end one hat and a pair of glasses were lost.

After a few more rapids, some floating, and a water cannon fight, the day on the river was complete. Now it was time to head back to camp, pack up, and ready ourselves for our final two days. Thank you to the extended Burg, Swanson, Miller, Court, and Shattuck families for their generosity and kindness in sharing these last few unforgettable days with us!

Rafting Crew – Day 2

Rafting Video Links:


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