Last week I floated the wild section of the Rogue River with my friend Joe who has rafted this river about 20 times since the late 70’s. We put-in on July 4th and spent 3 1/2 days on the river. It was glorious.
Joe always managed the raft with finesse and grace. My rowing down rapids was in the style of a pinball careening off a machine’s pinions. We had less human company than expected. Likely everyone was home watching fireworks.
Below Blossom Bar, on the last fourth of the float, the sometimes uncomfortable detente of a jam-packed jet boat and slow-moving raft reminded me of Ratty’s fist-shaking when he and Moley were swamped by an excursion steamer in the incomparable Wind and the Willows. (A wonderful summertime book — pretend to be reading it for the sake of a nearby child.) Worlds of a very different time and place, with one living in the mind and one on our river in Oregon, the occasional flair-up between muscle power and carbon based fuel power possible in both.
Wild things we saw (of the chordate phylum) along the Rogue included black bear, black-tailed deer, beaver, otter, bats (Yuma Myotis perhaps), common mergansers with ducklings in tow and on mother’s back, belted kingfisher, western tanager, western bluebird, unnamed sparrows of beautiful song, rufous hummingbirds, Canada geese, great blue heron, water ouzels or American dippers, osprey with and without fish in talons, bald eagle, turkey vulture, rattlesnake, western pond turtles sunning to remove parasites, rough skinned newts and juvenile salmonids galore.
River flow was +/- 2,000 CFS, which was within expectation for this season. We took the middle chute at Rainy Falls, were in awe of the river hydraulics along Mule Creek Canyon with its famous ‘coffee pot’, and Joe scooted us past the Pickets and into the notch at Blossom Bar with his customary elegance. At a place up a ways from where it enters the Rogue, we climbed onto a Tate Creek boulder that is known to aficionados of such things and slid down the water-carved chute landing in the pool 8 feet below. We also did nothing in particular as much as possible, other than watch the river flow endlessly by always changing and ever unchanging.
I will wind this post down with two different conclusions, just like those choose your own adventure books. Here goes – one short and one that requires a set-up:
What an astounding place we live in. I have said that before. Let’s continue to work hard together to keep it that way. And, I have said that, too.
– or –
A few days after returning I had lunch with another old friend. We talked about the Rogue and like the river, our conversation had many twists and turns. It wound around to the undeniable fact that we are both lucky enough to have a few spare bucks to get out of the city and spend a couple of days off work and on the river. Not everyone in our community is able to do that — by a long shot. To make our region sustainable and provide opportunities for people to get outdoors, we need to make sure our cities have parks and wading pools and ball fields and green spaces that are accessible to us all.
Take your pick. They are both true.