Put eight friends together, add a good wilderness host, a great river and a well maintained trail for four days of rafting and hiking — minus the fires — and you’ve got a winning combination of summer fun. We set out on July 25, 2018, for the Rogue River in southern Oregon, and here’s a quick summary of a trip you ought to consider:
Thursday, July 26, 2018: Smokey because of the nearby forest fires and our guides, Dan and Ben, reminded us to leave our car keys behind in case they needed to move our cars at the Morrisons Rogue River Lodge near Merlin, OR. With a warning that we would be exposed to the sun while hiking, we set off on a five-mile trek. And it was hot — over 100 degrees. Lots of ups and downs. Stopped to view the Whiskey Creek cabin, whose last resident miner lived there from 1956 to 1973. We could have hiked farther or get in the rafts. We chose rafts. Nice seat upfront with lots of looks straight down to the bottom of the waves as we went through rapids. Swam twice with a nice float down to Black Bar Lodge.
Friday, July 27, 2018: Breakfast at 8 and we had our bags packed so Dan could take us across the river for that day’s hiking by 9 a.m. Long switchbacks up to the trail and then four miles of mostly flat path, cooler morning and more shade. I thought we might default to the raft early, but instead we chose to hike another three miles. Last half hour was very hot, and lunch came just in time. Kathy and I got the “Princess cruise” seat in the gear boat — no paddling. Dinner at Marial Lodge with the rowdy San Diego crew, who were doing an all-rafting trip. Nice talk on the porch under a faraway osprey nest, which you might notice in the video above (thank you iMovie for this preview of a slideshow). Rob shot that with his camera through a scope zeroed in on the nest. Nicely done.
Saturday, July 28, 2018: All hiking today, either 5.9 miles (according to Dan) or 9.2 miles (according to Barb’s GPS). Dan, of course, stuck by his estimate, pointing out that with no cell service GPS didn’t work here. When someone pointed out that would probably mean less mileage recorded, Dan had an answer to that, too: The signal gets bounced back and forth, meaning you get twice as many miles than you walked. Several stops on the trail today: Up the Mule Creek canyon, toured the Rogue River Ranch (restored in 2016), jumped off cliffs into the swimming hole, visited the Zane Grey cabin and saw a bear before heading on to the Paradise Bar Lodge where Dan and Ben served a great lunch of sandwiches on homemade bread from the Marial Lodge, chips and cookies. While sitting on the veranda of the Paradise Bar Lodge, we watched a deer swim across the river. Dinner, lots of jokes and stories on the veranda.
Sunday, July 29, 2018: Great last day: five miles hiking, couple of big rapids on the river and lots of floating in the Rogue. Taco salad for lunch. Trail mostly flat with not much exposure to the sun. Looking down into the rock canyon on this part of the trail made me want to see the whole river from the raft — which we plan for 2019. Back in the water for a nice float to the take out spot. While on the ride back to Morrison, we were told that the lodge had been evacuated because of fires and our cars had been moved. We had planned to stay there, but they had booked us a place in Roseburg, about 50 miles north of there. Kinda crazy at Merlin that day with reservations being remade, boats coming in, cars parked here and there and unpacking to get done. Gotta say that if Rogue Wilderness Adventures can get through all that without making you feel like one more trivial piece in a world of impending disasters, they have got their shit together. Can’t wait for a return trip.