2012 Rogue River Lodge Trip

May 18, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Rogue River Lodge Trip
May 18-21
Trip Leader: Van McKay

Submitted by: Van McKay

Ric Buhr was a guide on the Rogue and other rivers for decades. This annual trip with friends and family continues after his passing. We had 8 rafts, 3 cats and one inflatable kayak and nearly all the boats were made by SOTAR. No one got badly stuck because everyone practiced safe and prudent, but fun rafting. One raft did get stuck at the bottom of Fish Ladder at Rainie Falls. However, with quick maneuvering the captain was able to push off the rock. Another raft struggled on the same rock and was fortunately knocked off by the next raft. Support people were staged on the riverside and one threw a rope and the raft was pulled off fairly easily - a really nice quick rescue after being stuck for less than 4 minutes. Everyone helped everyone else during the trip and the pace of the trip was easy. Two people jumped off "Sports Illustrated" rock.

The weather was kind to us for most of the trip. The first three days were sunny to cloudy with temps to the mid-70's which is very good for this time of year. The final day was not cold but half way through started to have light showers.

We saw many forms of wildlife: black tailed deer, bald eagle, osprey and one with a fish in claws, jumping fish, buzzards, common mergansers, Canadian geese and goslings, mallard ducks, duck with ducklings, great blue heron, stellars jay, western fence lizards, dippers, killdeer, starlings, swallows, hummingbirds and western pond turtles. No black bear sightings this year. The native white dogwoods were blooming as well as mock orange with its intense fragrant flowers.

We ate Swiss steak at Black Bar Lodge, outstanding pork ribs at Marial Lodge and tri-tip and chicken at Paradise Lodge. The Au Gratin potatoes at Paradise with smoked Gouda cheese, heavy cream and Italian seasoning were awesome. People played horse shoes and bocce ball and some enjoyed the sauna at Paradise Lodge.

A very sad and grisly event happened while we were 1-1/2 miles upstream of the Rogue River Ranch on Saturday. A 19-year old male was hiking with friends two weeks prior and fell into the river at Rainie Falls. Just downstream he stepped on a slippery rock trying to take a photograph of the falls. He slipped into the river, popped up twice and went under for good. Another rafting group discovered his body earlier in the day. They left a white flag on a branch above the body for the BLM. When we passed by, a ranger was waiting in a raft while they prepared to remove the body. Many in our party saw the body and those who had closely experienced death of loved ones were very affected. A sobering reminder of how precious life is and how strong the river water can be.

A highlight for everyone was the annular solar eclipse. An annular solar eclipse is where the moon nearly covers the sun leaving a ring of sun around the moon. If the moon were closer to earth in its orbit a total solar eclipse would occur. At Paradise Lodge we were lucky to be just within the central band of totality. The big question was whether we would be able to see the eclipse due to the forecasted clouds or whether the sun would set behind the steep hills surrounding the lodge prior to totality.

Late afternoon the heavy clouds turned into thin high clouds. The author purchased enough solar filter sunglasses so everyone could look directly at the sun. The edges of the moon and sun were amazingly sharp while the black circular moon crept for two hours over the sun. When looking at the people viewing the eclipse with funny glasses one wondered if they were in awe of the eclipse or just waiting to be beamed up. We cheered when the moon finally covered the sun during a five minute totality with a perfect Ring of Fire around the moon. A few minutes after totality the sun began to disappear behind the hills. The eclipse gods were with us! It was a beautiful evening with everyone gathered on the beautiful grassy field/airstrip with cows in the distance.

It was the first OWA trip for one couple. They wrote that the Rogue was a new river for them. They sent their money to someone they never met, for a river trip they had never done before, and hoped it would all turn out fine. They started this adventure with some uncertainty about the whole experience, but ended with a new set of friends and a new river to enjoy for many years ahead. The leadership that Van provided, both in terms of the logistics and the plans for each day, provided the right level of coordination and flexibility. They knew what to expect, where to meet, when to be there, etc. The trip was a great success for them.

A single male wrote that he was apprehensive about joining this trip as he wouldn't know anyone and would end up feeling like a loner in the group. He said he could not have been more wrong as the group was outgoing and he was welcomed and included from the start. The combination of the accommodations, the weather, the river and the camaraderie made for an unforgettable experience.

Next year the trip is from May 17 to May 20, so if you want to go, mark your calendars.

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