2011 Lower N Umpqua River

April 09, 2011 at 9:00 AM


What has turned into an annual event occurred again on April 8th,  9th and 10th as the NWRA and OWA clubs held a joint white-water rally on the lower Umpqua River .  For the second year in a row the two clubs floated a section of the North Umpqua River together.  This year we stayed in the Whistler’s Bend county campground and floated from there to a take-out just north of the Winchester Dam. After the float the event was topped off with a Dutch oven cook off on Saturday night with everyone voting on who cooked the best mail dish, the best side dish, and the best dessert.

The kick off started Friday night with Brad and Margaret Ann Carlson cooking steamed oysters over an open fire and serving them to everyone with her special garlic butter and cheese.  The oysters were fresh out of Coos Bay, big and absolutely delicious. . 

On Saturday morning we woke up to overcast, but clearing skies. At just about noon twelve rafts and one kayak pushed off from the Whistler’s Bend boat ramp and floated down to a take-out just north of the Winchester Dam.  The average flow along this section is 1500 cfs, but because of rains that occurred earlier in the week, the water flow on Saturday morning was approximately 9,000 cfs.  The water wasn’t over the banks, but many of the islands were submerged under water with weeds and sage grass sticking up above.  Walt Bamman from the NWRA Roseburg chapter led the way.  The scenery was beautiful; the weather was great.  Everyone, especially the kids, had a great time.

The banks of the Umpqua in this section are heavily forested with short scattered sections of very nice river-side homes.  One of the advantages of April floats is the lack of traffic on the river.  Other than a couple of fishing boats our group had the river to ourselves.  The most challenging water in this section is Dixon Falls which is a class 3 turbulent drop that everyone negotiated easily.  One dog took a short swim, but the people only got splashed.  At approximately 3:30 PM the group started arriving at the take-out.   Because of the fairly steep bank, it took nearly an hour to get all thirteen craft out of the river and headed back to camp.

By 7:30 PM the Dutch ovens had worked their magic, and the big meal began. Gary Steffy had so many ovens cooking that he used two large bags of charcoal keeping them heated. To say that we had plenty of food would be an under statement, and all of it was delicious.  After all the votes were cast Bruce Ripley‘s spare ribs took top honors in the main dish category.  Margaret Ann Carlson’s Yugoslavian cheese bread was voted the best side dish and her berry cobbler won the best desert category.   First and second place entries all received prizes for their efforts.

Sunday morning brought increasing clouds and the threat of rain.  There were discussions of taking the rafts upstream and floating down to the campground, but the tent campers opted to break camp while they still had dry tents, so a second float trip didn’t materialize.  Overall everyone had a great time, and there was much talk about our joint trip back to the North Umpqua in June when the clubs are scheduled to float the section between Bolder Flat and Gravel Bin.

Tags: Dutch Oven Contest Lower N Umpqua Whistlers Bend
Category: Trip Report

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