Friday, February 7, 2014
Rafting the Rogue River
For the Hundredth and First Time
|Ryan, A.K.A. “Hunter,” and son, Ty|
In 14 seasons of guiding with Orange Torpedo Trips, I have had the opportunity to paddle rivers of incredible beauty, with challenging and exhilarating rapids. From my home river, the North Umpqua, to the Main Salmon, the Klamath, the various sections of the Rogue and as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, and Costa Rica, I have repeatedly found myself awed beyond words.
This past summer, I was fortunate to have a “first river experience” in taking my children, my 6-year-old son, Ty, and 8-year-old daughter, Whitney, down the three-day Wild and Scenic Rogue River. While my wife was away for a “girls weekend,” I figured the best way to entertain and supervise my children was by giving them an unforgettable river trip. My idea was to give them a waterproof digital camera with plenty of memory, and access to super soakers, all while allowing them to experience nature and the river with their dad, fellow guides, and wonderful guests.
|Ty loving river life, smokey canyon and all.|
This was my 5th Lower Rogue trip of the season, out of probably one-hundred-and-something overall. While each trip is unique in terms of logistics, people, river conditions, and weather, certain rhythms and routines always develop—guides fall into familiar roles and duties.
But seeing and experiencing the river through my childrens’ eyes, mouths, hearts and souls allowed me to feel the river and see the area as I never had before. My daughter took to collecting rocks whenever we stopped. Now I had a reason to slow down and comb the same beaches that I had become so used to ignoring as I hurriedly carried coolers to-and-fro across them or set up lunches. The ever-changing Geology of the river and land took on new meaning as my daughter hunted for unique and timeless stones. It has been said “the river runs over rocks from the basement of time.” (Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through it) Seeing your daughter thinking about big picture ideas like this is refreshing.
|Father and Daughter in the Sun|
The abundance of wildlife along the Rogue River corridor is truly astonishing. But I have to admit: I’ve seen a few deer in my day, and a few more is unexceptional. For my six-year-old son, though, the world spins when during a single day he can see deer, bears, eagles, otters, hawks, osprey, vultures, ravens, ducks, turtles, fish and more—all with the bonus of whitewater and boundless beauty. To be sure, the “pet” deer of Black Bar lodge are still highlights from the trip for my kids. A wild land like the Lower Rogue River abounds with the Yin of beauty and life, but we also experienced the Yang of fire and destruction on this trip. My kids now think it normal for helicopters to be flying the narrow canyons and dropping water on spot fires!
Meeting wonderful new people and seeing the river through the curious and innocent eyes of my children would be incredible enough on its own, but I find that a humorous incident always helps to cement memories in my mind. My son provided just the ticket—and because it is tied to my memory of the experience, it seems right to close with.
On the second day of the trip, his raft moved towards shore to take a look at a young black bear that was cruising along the bank. Heads turned and cameras clicked as we enjoyed the beautiful creature. My son, however, thought it would be a solid idea to fill up his super soaker and squirt the bear. The bear was as shocked as the rest of us to see a stream of water heading towards him. The young bear was clearly surprised and ran up the hillside as only a bear can, sending rocks and debris cascading down in his wake. Before I could process the scene mentally, my son stood up and proudly yelled, “Daddy, I shot the bear!” (Don’t be surprised if at least one bear is skittish of OTT rafts!)
|One of many Yogi Bears on the Lower Rogue|
So, while the river trip I describe here was far from my first on the Rogue, and farther still (years and miles) from my “first-first”-river trip, it was without doubt a first, and no less of one than those that came before.
Interested in taking your kids on their first Rogue River Adventure? Learn More Here.