It doesn’t happen often, but last week it did. Michelle and I left the Oregon Coast for a bit, and had a non Oregon Coast adventure. We loaded up the car, and the Kayak and headed south to Shady Cove Oregon to run the Rogue river.
This is our story…
Michelle’s best friend and college roommate Kim, her husband Mark and, famous from the Oregon Coast ride Rob
All live in Shady Cove Oregon, near the Rogue river.
The 5 of us, due to covid, did not see each other much over the last year or so. However, we all jumped on the vaccine as soon as we could, so Michelle and Kim planned a gathering, it was time to run the Rogue.
The trip did NOT start well. We hit I-5 and pointed our nose south. Just after we passed Eugene. we started seeing smoke. There are wildfires all over Oregon right now, and the smoke was pervasive! We even saw helicopter lifting off with a water bucket. It was not pleasant drive south.
I felt really bad at one point. There was a cyclist, loaded for bear and obviously on a long trip. He was riding south on the I-5 shoulder. Sadly, when we saw him it was before a LONNG climb and into the thickest smoke. It would have been a miserable ride. I hope he is ok!
We got to Shady Cove, and the smoke was thick and the river trip was in jeopardy. No one wants to go out in the smoke! It just aint healthy!
However, the river gods smiled on us! we woke up Friday morning to blue skies, sunshine snd no smoke! The river trip was on!
In addition to the 5 of us, we were meeting Teri, Greg and Carol, friends of Shady Cove clan. When the 2020 fires made them bug out for safety, Greg and Carol took them in for a few days. They live right on the river! Teri is their neighbor, and had, like us, had never floated the river before.
We met at Dodge Bridge State Park, Michelle and I had no idea how long the float would be, but we were ready to go! (it was 5 hours)
Remember the fires I spoke of? Well we were a bit delayed in launching, there was a tanker truck sucking up water from the river to help fight the fires who took priority.
After he was done, we launched!
So, did I mention we had no idea what we were getting into?
Some was easy and flat.
We needed to paddle to make any headway on these sections. but it was SO pretty.
We just kept heading down river and kept the paddles a moving.
Some of the river though was NOT flat. There was white water
I learned early on that my kayak which is excellent for the flat tidal waters of the coast
is NOT a white water raft! I did a helluva lot of balling and going on shore to tip over the boat to pour out the water. At 8 lbs per gallon, and LEAST 10 gallons of water in the boat, it was one heavy sucker to flip over!
The river did present some challenges.
Bigfoot was watching us.
And we had to deal with Jet boats. All but one driver slowed down to a crawl for us, but one was a jerk and just kept going!
Of course my favorite photos were those with Michelle, she and Kim attacked the river!
Here they laughed there asses off as Kim Realized when she leaned back she was squashing our peanut butter and jelly sammiches!
And look how long and pretty my girls hair is!
One of the funniest parts, Carol found a Blues Clues chair (look it up) on the river. We were concerned, a bit, that the chair had fleas or bed bugs…
So do remember where I said we had no idea how far we were going? Well, we got out at a state park part way down. Michelle thought the float was over, poor thing was a bit sun burned already, but we had a ways to go! We were about 60% done.
Well my rough estimate, we paddled about 15- 18 miles of river that day…
Before we got to the end, we had one big challenge left.
Our guide was Greg, he lives on the river and had done this route many times! He told us the map was old and there was no more dam. He also told Rob, Mark and I that to get to his house, and the take out point, we would cross the NOT PASSABLE point.
I chose not to share this with the others….
So, we continued our paddle. We saw kingfishers, blue herons and one bald eagle. I didn’t see them, but I am told there were a few osprey as well. We were all tired, but each stroke got us closer to Greg and Carol’s house and the end of the trip…
But then we got to the where the dam had been. Sadly, early in the trip, I found out the GoPro died. I hadn’t charged it! before we came south! In finding this out, I almost, went down a bit of white water backwards! Luckily, I was able to paddle my inattentive butt to an eddy, and turn forward for the bigger waves.
But, since the GoPro was dead. I missed some great videos! Like the last bit of whitewater.
We hit the location of the old dam. I saw where Greg navigated, and I tried to follow him. Somehow though, I missed…
I ended up stuck on a huge rock, surrounded by white water, and I was going nowhere! NOT GOOD!
Soon there after, Mark and Rob came through.
Mark noticed I was stuck and told Rob. Then Rob, my buddy for untold how many cycling miles, was heard to say, “Screw Tony! (he didn’t say screw) Go forward!!!!”
Yep he left me!
Now folks, do NOT think badly of him. There was not a damn thing they coulda done, except get stuck as well. Getting through the rapids unscathed, would allow him to help with a rescue if needed.
Ahhh, but then yall know our hero, Tony! Rescue me, my great aunt Petunia!
I was able to smooch my raft around and get it moving on my own! Soon I was shooting down stream and following those who passed me!
A few minutes later, we made it to the take out spot. Greg and Carol’s house! I turned and paddled upstream to make sure Kim and Michelle got off the river before me, then I was last to beach! We all made it! We were tired, a bit sun burnt and sore, but we showed the river who was boss! The mighty Rogue River Armarda had completed the journey! (if you are curious, the puppy’s name its Banjo! he is one of of the 3 rescued Greyhounds who live here!)
Greg and Carol made sure we all had what we needed at the end of the trip! All of this was needed,
Ladies and gents, I needed this so much! I got bit by biting flies. I am still sore from paddling, and damn I got wet! But the weather was perfect! Not too hot and no smoke. I was riding the river with the woman I love, some of our best friends, and 3 new ones!
We laughed, we smiled, we yelled and we conquered! I would ride the river with any and all of these people any day!
In the end, just before we left, the river gave us one more gift, a great sunset!
We were SO lucky! The river gods watched out for us! There was no smoke, it was only 80 degrees, and the river still had enough water to let us float!
I will remember this run fondly till my dying day! I am very lucky to have run the river with friends like this!