Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Mighty Rogue

07/22/11 - Morning dawned with a couple of robins doing the two step on the roof of the rig (tickita - tickita - tap - tap). We eat a good breakfast and though we'll lunch up at Agnes, we pack a couple of sandwiches, my camera, binoculars and put on layers of clothes.

The jet boat picks us up at the dock at 8am sharp.  We have the same driver as we did 4 years ago. Jeff is the grandson of the man who started the mailboats in 1958. He's a skilled driver, a great storyteller and historian. We'll be venturing 52 miles up river through public lands, national park and wilderness.

One of our first sights is this magnificent bald eagle. Whenever Jeff or one of the passengers spot something worth seeing he'll pull over so we can all see what's up. We did spot the rear end of a small bear heading into the underbrush, but are told we may not see any others. Blackberry season is so late they haven't ventured down to the river.

Our driver knows a lot of the fishing guides and we stop along side of a friend of his who is happy to show us the morning catch. Rod's eyes get as big as saucers.

The Rogue originates at Crater Lake. There are only two dams left on it, but a visible side effect of the dams is it's opaque green color. It's not crystal clear like the Illinois River that merges with it up stream. The Rogue is higher than normal for this time of year and is warming rapidly. Some of the fall run salmon, like this one, are being caught 30 miles up river which is unusual. In a matter of days, a majority of the fish will move down to the cooler waters of the bay.

The Rogue is a magical and spiritual place, around every bend is something unexpected. Herons and ospreys abound, otter families play along the banks. We learned that once pups are born, the male otters take over rearing and educating the youngsters.

One the perks of traveling the Rogue in a jet boat (no props) is that it can navigate in eight inches of water. Though there are miles of smooth water with fast currents, we also experience class 3 and class 4 rapids. Whenever we come upon rafters, or campers along the shore the boat is slowed so as not to create waves. On the other hand we're all giddy with the thrill of knifing through the rapids, some quick stops (the front end drops everyone on the boat gets a shower) and doing 360 donuts which soak everyone. There were about 10 kids on our boat and what we noticed as the trip progressed is that all adults became more childlike: laughing, screaming, requesting more spins. Yeah Baby! Wahoo!

We dock at Agnes and have lunch at the little restaurant on the hill, the finishing touch is sharing a slice of still warm from the oven blackberry pie with vanilla ice cream. It's hard work playing on the river.

The return trip is just as heartstopping and fun as the way up. We are absolute toast by the time we're dropped of at camp about 3:30 in the afternoon. We opt for cereal for dinner, a little reading and early to bed. We head a little way north tomorrow.