2011 Veterans Day Rogue River
November 11, 2011 at 9:00 AM
2011 Veterans Day Rogue River Trip
November 11-13, 2011
Submitted by Scott Ogren
By the time I took the online signup form down from the OWA website for this trip, 72 people had signed up and paid for the annual joint OWA/OKCC Veterans Day Rogue River float. Wow. That is an unbelievable number of people. Our club has grown so much over the past few years and the fact that there was this much interest in the trip is evidence of that.
As it always happens on large trips like this, a few people cancelled for various reasons and by the time we got to the put in at Graves Creek, our group size was 61 people. By any measure, 61 is a lot of people to all float a river at the same time. Because of that, as the trip leader I needed a solid plan that would create an attitude of safety, working together and having fun – and I needed to communicate that plan to the group early.
I set the tone of the trip early so everyone would know what to expect from the big things like how we were going to get all of the boats through the Fish Ladder to the little things like what we were going to do with the garbage. I spent a week composing an email and it went through three drafts and was proof-read by three people who offered their suggestions and gave their input on all of the things that needed to be covered. Those who got the email know how long it was and I didn’t realize it until someone who printed it out told me it was 4 pages long. It was long, but it did what it needed to. Expectations were set and everyone on the trip cooperated exceptionally well. Things went so smoothly that you wouldn’t have known this was the largest wilderness travel trip in OWA history.
Bruce Ripley along with Russ Pascoe and the OKCC kayakers set up a communication system at the Fish Ladder that let the next boat know when it was safe to enter. There were people stationed at strategic locations in the Fish Ladder to help stuck boats keep moving. There was organization, order and everyone knew what they needed to do. In all, roughly 40 boats (rafts, cat boats and kayaks) moved through the Fish Ladder at Rainie Falls in about an hour and a half. One more boat that was running a little behind went through about 30 minutes later. That doesn’t happen without being organized and everyone working together.
Camp at Horseshoe Bend was amazing. The OKCC kayak crew served an incredible dinner of pasta, homemade sauce, and garlic bread along with probably the best salad I have ever had outdoors. Cary Solberg served as the group bartender and the party was on. We had four campfires going and plenty of fun was had by all.
The next morning we all woke up to a great breakfast of scrambled eggs along with biscuits and gravy prepared by Rick Hendon. After a hearty breakfast, we all packed up camp and all 61 of us were ready to leave camp at 9:30 or so.
The next big challenge was Mule Creek Canyon and Blossom Bar. Blossom Bar is another place where there’s only room for one boat at a time and we all needed to give each other space and wait patiently for our turn. Everything went very smoothly and probably the biggest problem in the entire group was me – I got my boat stuck on a rock just after passing Volkswagen Rock on the right. It took both my boat mate Jen Carman and I each pulling on an oar as hard as we could to get away from the rock – we were stuck for about 45 seconds in total. If that’s the worst thing that happened to 40 boats and 61 people, we did pretty well.
Camp at Tacoma Bar resembled a techie version of an Occupy Portland encampment as we were all pretty close to each other, but it was good. Appetizers were served by Cary Solberg and Marion Flood. Cary made quesadillas and Marian made guacamole right there in camp and served it with chips and pre-made margaritas that we all enjoyed. I served chili and cornbread that everyone seemed to enjoy.
A scrambled egg and pancake breakfast was served by Rob Harvey and his crew. We all got to enjoy a little more time at camp before we packed everything up and headed towards Foster Bar.
Once we were at the boat ramp, it seemed as though everyone helped everyone. We all worked together so well that I was one of the last two vehicles to leave at 1:30. It was really amazing to watch – all 61 of us converged on the Foster Bar boat ramp in our boats and left in our trucks in an hour and a half.
All in all this was a very successful trip. At first I was a little hesitant to have 72 people on the trip, but after a few days a few people cancelled and then I had some time to get my head wrapped around the challenge. There were two things that contributed to the success of this trip that I would recommend to anyone attempting to lead a large group down a river. The first is communication; the trip leader should develop a through plan and communicate that to the group as early as possible so everyone has time to digest what is going to happen. The second is be lucky enough to have people on your trip cooperate as much as the people on this trip did. We all cooperated with each other and worked together at every turn. It seemed as though everyone’s actions were for the greater good of the group. Everyone worked together, helped each other out and we all had a great time. The last thing I would add is I had plans for nearly everything that could have gone wrong that I communicated to only a few people. I didn’t want the whole group to worry about everything I worried about, but I had quietly appointed key people to jump into action should things go wrong. Luckily, none of those things were needed but people were ready just in case. In my mind, that was a very important thing to do with a group this large.
Thanks again to everyone on the trip who made it so easy for me to do my job as the trip leader. It was an incredible trip.
Please add a comment
This was the most fun I've ever had in rubber clothes!
This was the first ever trip we made with this group, and the largest group effort in which I was a particpant. I can tell you I was impressed with the organization, effeciency, and cooperative effort of such a large group! No Drama, No Issues, No worries!
I was very pleased to be part of such a group and am looking forward to many more OWA adventures. Thanks for including Shanna, Nicole and me in your fun! We are already signed up for the February Rogue trip and Scott's next coordinated trip on the Lower Deschutes in March.
Scott, you are incredible! We were so fortunate to run into you and your trip at Trout Creek on the Deschutes last spring. I am looking forward to working and tripping with you anytime and anywhere.
Dan and Shanna Hudson, Greenwater WA (and Nicole too!!!!)
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