2009 Grand Ronde River
May 08, 2009 at 7:56 AM
Minam to Heller Bar on the Snake, 91 miles
May 8-10, 2009
Flow: 13,800 at put in; about 11,000 at take out
Shuttle: Boggan’s Oasis; rate depends on the number of vehicles per group. We paid $100 each.
9 people, 7 boats
Usually, the flow is between 4,000-8,000 when we’ve done this trip in the past. Overall, there was great benefit to the high flow: we averaged 8pmh (usual is 5mph), and got to camp quicker; some pesky semi-submerged rocks were now fully submerged; and the wave trains got a little bigger and more fun (on this otherwise sedate river). It also seemed to scare off the boaters. We only saw one other group. The only disadvantage came at The Narrows, the only rapid of any consequence on this trip (5 miles above the confluence with the Snake). There was a significant reversal at the very bottom of the rapid on the right, and the waves were much bigger. Ordinarily, you can sneak this rapid (and miss all the fun) by running river right. Given the hole at the bottom (don’t forget to scout the whole rapid at these flows), we all ran a sneak route on the left, although I suspect we were being overly cautious.
This is a scenic float: we start in forested canyon, and end up with green-grass covered basalt lava flow bluffs leading up to the high plateau Flowers and flowering trees put on a show for us. We saw osprey, golden and bald eagles (including a nesting pair near the second night’s camp), and deer. The BLM ranger reported big horn sheep and moose sightings along the route, but they stayed away from us. Every year I do this trip, I’m surprised again by how beautiful it is.
If you’re contemplating the trip for next year, this is the only “Wild and Scenic” river trip offering a burger, fires and milkshake for lunch on Day #2.