2011 North Umpqua River

June 03, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Trip Report –June 2011


by Walt Bammann 

The 9th annual Umpqua Chapter campout was held on June 3, 4, 5 at the Deerflat Group area at the Horseshoe Bend Campground on the North Umpqua River.  The weatherman had promised warm and sunny weather (at least some weathermen promised) for the weekend after weeks of rain and cool weather.  Based on the optimistic forecast and a good river level, folks started rolling in early Friday to set up camp.  For the second year the trip was co-sponsored by OWA and, as it turns out, many folks are members of both clubs.  We were expecting a high turnout in spite of all the activities happening in early June and we were not disappointed.  Jody tallied 60 people participating in some form or other over the weekend.  We had people who came just for the camping, some just for the boating and some just for the potluck on Saturday night.  This was our second highest attendance (63 being the highest).

Festivities got started Friday night with an impromptu potluck.  Even though this wasn’t planned in advance, we ended up with appetizers, salads, main dishes and desserts and got to socialize with everyone in camp.  We awoke Saturday morning to cloudy skies and began organizing the shuttle.  We had enough non-boaters that they could do the shuttle for us to save some time so we loaded onto 5 trailers and headed to the Boulder Flat launch.  On arriving we found several additional boaters so we had to worry about their rigs later.  The stretch from Boulder Flat to Gravel Bin is 14 miles and rates class 3-4.  Pinball at high flows can be challenging and there are some big holes in other rapids but generally they can be avoided if desired.

The river was running at 7.2 on the Copeland Gauge which is about 2900 cfs.  This was the second highest level encountered over the 9 years surpassed only by last year’s 8.5’ level (roughly 4600 cfs).  Our flotilla of 18 boats was nowhere near the 27 we had a few years ago but back then we had only one paddle raft compared to the four this year.  So I suspect that the number of floaters was about the same.  The float went quite well for our group with only a couple swimmers and no flips other than by a couple of inflatable kayakers.  Other groups weren’t as fortunate as one paddle raft flipped at Happy Rock and then again at Pinball.  All in all everyone had a blast even though the predicted sunshine never appeared.  At least it didn’t rain!

The potluck Saturday night has grown over the years from the first one that featured many salads, store-bought desserts and only a few dutch oven dishes.  It was then suggested that we promote dutch oven cooking by having a fun contest with inexpensive prizes.  Beginning in year 2 the number and quality of dutch oven dishes presented has skyrocketed.  We have some amazing cooks and they show just what is possible with a dutch oven on a camping trip.  There are too many dishes to remember over the years but we’ve seen coconut catfish, lasagna, exotic breads, a 7 layer cake, fresh fruit pie, soups, chili, ribs, various chicken dishes, several Mexican dishes and on and on.  We have folks come just for the potluck.

Garry Steffy (from Albany and long-time OWA/NWRA member) isn’t able to boat anymore but he has a passion for dutch oven cooking.  For several years now he comes to our campouts with a “rolling dutch oven kitchen”.  I think he used over a dozen dutch ovens this year for a variety of dishes.  The highlight has to be the 7 layer cake with graduated sizes and all frosted.  This just shows what can be done with dutch ovens.  Needless to say, he won the dessert category.  He also won the side dish category with his beans entry.  Unfortunately we didn’t keep a list of all the dishes entered but some of the main dish entrees were chiles rellenos (1st place- Walt Bammann), meat loaf (2nd place –Ruby Kosola), tamale pie, turkey enchiladas, a meat and potatoes dish, and even a chicken liver alfredo casserole.  Side dish entrees were Garry’s beans (1st place), rolls (2nd place- Ruby Kosola), and yeast cheese rolls.  The dessert category included Garry’s cake (1st place), German chocolate brownies (2nd place-Margaret Ann Anderson), and a fresh peach pie.  We also enjoyed many kinds of appetizers, salads and other desserts.  Thank you everyone for pitching in with all the great food!

On Sunday campers began stirring around 7 AM to socialize, have breakfast and prepare for the day.  Jake Szympruch (Umpqua Chapter – VP) organized a float from Gravel Bin to Susan Creek.  This section adds the water from Steamboat Creek to the flow at the Copeland gauge meaning boaters would be on 4200 cfs.  The section can be pushy at that level and there are some really big holes in Island and Ledges
Rapids.  Jake was joined by 18 other folks in 11 boats for the 12 mile trip.  Jake reports that the float went smoothly with no raft carnage and only a couple swimmers, mostly kayakers.

The rest of us campers hung out and enjoyed our coffee and socializing.  Several summer raft adventures were reviewed and plans started.  We also decided to add another potluck to the event by having one Sunday morning.  This will be more informal, like the Friday night potluck, and not have a contest although dutch oven dishes are welcome (cinnamon rolls, anyone?).

All in all it was a tremendous weekend.  Many thanks to everyone helping out.  Can’t wait till next year!

Tags: North Umpqua River
Category: Trip Report

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