Saturday, January 27, 2018

Rogue River Trail 1/2018

Last December I hiked at Cape Blanco and then the Rogue River. In January, I hiked at Cape Blanco and then the Rogue River. See a trend? Yup, me too, but rest assured that in February, I will not hike at Cape Blanco or the Rogue River. I did have good reason to double up on Cape Blanco though, as I was helping Lane get acquainted with the route and then helping him lead a very large group on the subsequent outing, But the twin Rogue River hikes were more happenstance than actual intent.

Tumbling creek falling into the river
Daweson and I had hiked on the Rogue River Trail in December and shortly afterwards, the Friends of the Umpqua added the Rogue River Trail to their schedule. So my choice on this January Saturday was to hike elsewhere alone or reenact the hike with the club. Apparently, I needed company on this day, for I joined up with the club and hiked the oh-so-familiar Rogue River Trail with my friends. Well, maybe it's a stretch to say that I have actual friends, but at any rate I had company and companionship on this hike, if for no other reason than I had the car keys in my possession.

Rain was a constant threat
Actually, the decision to hike along the Rogue had more to do with weather than having comrades somehow validate my meager inconsequential existence as a human being. It had been pretty rainy which meant snow in the Cascades and less than optimal conditions at the coast. Chances were pretty high that we would get rained on at the Rogue but at least it would be a short drive for that dubious privilege.

A waterfall tumbles across the trail
The theme of the December Rogue River hike was cold air and it was definitely warmer now than it had been back then. The current hike was much wetter, though. About a half-mile from the trailhead, a small creek waterfalls onto the trail at the infamous "wet spot". The trail is narrow and due to the year round waterfall, the rocks can get quite slippery when the algae grows. Normally, you cross the wet spot very carefully, placing your hands on the cliff side for support. However, the waterfall was carrying so much volume that there was no hope of staying dry, and my right leg was promptly soaked from the hip down, thanks to immersing said leg in said waterfall as I crossed. Good thing it wasn't as cold as that December hike!

Typical view from the trail
Because of the increased water volume, the Rogue River was not its usual blue-green, aquamarine water machine. Today, the water was greenish-brown like dooky water backing up behind a pipe blockage, with the increased bulk of the river appearing somewhat menacing when seen from up close. Fortunately, we hiked mostly high above the river, enjoying views of the river safely ensconced in its canyon.

Whiskey Creek
On any spring day, numerous creeks and seasonal runoffs cross the trail and today was no different. What was different was the volume of water, as almost all of the intermittent streams were larger than normal due to the recent run of rain. The good news was that while we were occasionally spattered with raindrops, the day remained relatively dry. In fact, about two miles into the hike, the sun  even broke out and we basked in its warm bright glory...for all of two minutes. The day then went dark and cloudy and so it would remain.

Oregon sunshine says spring cometh
We ate lunch at rustic Whiskey Creek Cabin before turning around. I soon lagged far behind everybody else but there were so many things to take pictures of. I actually spotted my first wildflowers of the year, in the form of Oregon sunshine, oak toothwort, and cliff-hugging moisture-loving saxifrage. That's OK, though, as I was driving and my car-mates had to wait for me out of necessity. That's it for this month's version of the Rogue River hike and we'll see you at Cape Blanco next month...not!

An unnamed creek splashes across the trail
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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