Sunday, March 16, 2014

Upper Rogue River Trail (Woodruff Bridge to Prospect Ranger Station)

There's a symbiotic relationship between work and hiking. Work is jam-packed with deadlines, claimants, deadlines, goals, more deadlines, and all sorts of other distasteful stresses ( deadlines!). But hiking is my stress release and helps keep me sane. If you doubt I'm sane, take away the hiking and then see what happens. Hiking on weekends allows me to face another week day-slaving in a generically bland cubicle.

Mental floss

However, work allows me to go hiking too, as it pays for gas, boots, tents, food, parkas, sleeping bags, dehydrated food, bug spray, and ice cream on the way home. Plus, it's a great motivator to get out on the trail for my weekly mental floss. So, no complaining about work allowed, as hiking and work go together like a tamale and salsa. I may change my tune when I retire but that is a long way off, seeing as how I'm so young still and stop with the snickering already !

Let's go hiking!
The latest chapter in Richard's mental health therapy took place on the Upper Rogue River Trail with Medford hiking buddies Glenn and Carol (plus dog Katie). We had become friends when Glenn contacted me several years ago through my blog. Or as I like to put it: Glenn is a Leo, likes to take long walks, and we met through the Internet.  But we do not make a cute couple!

The first of several fallen trees
We left my car at the Prospect Ranger Station so we could hike one way from Woodruff Bridge to the ranger station. The morning was sunny and cool, just perfect for hiking as we started out. The Rogue River here is placid and serene with emerald pools of water lazily flowing just below the trail. Winter had been here not too long ago and we were reminded of that when we had to perform a tedious bushwhack to get around a freshly fallen tree.

Snow queen
Normally, this is a good wildflower hike in spring as the forest is carpeted with all manner of flowers. But again, winter had just departed minutes before we started our hike and the only sign spring was on the way were the little lavender flowers of snow queen. Apart from one solitary specimen of yellow woodland violet, that was it for the wildflower show. 

Takelma Gorge
The Rogue River soon became boisterous and noisy and at two miles, we arrived at spectacular Takelma Gorge. The river has cut a narrow cleft in the lava flows covering this area and is not very happy about being so confined, judging by the seething and roiling waters in the gorge. At a fishhook bend in the gorge, logs lie strewn about like spilled toothpicks of the gods. Even though I've been here bunches and bunches of times, the view never gets old.

Gorgeous gorge
The gorge would be our friend for nearly another mile and the river at times dropped completely out of sight in the narrow gorge. Much photography ensued when the river was visible. After the gorge petered out and the river went all mellow again, we stopped for lunch at Trail Bridge Campground as crows cawed crudely from the treetops. I became Katie's friend for life when she found out I had bananas which, oddly enough, are her favorite food.

Rapids on the Rogue
Up until this point, this had been a familiar hike as I've hiked to Takelma Gorge around a million times, give or take a 50,000 or two.. But the minute I stepped off of Trail Bridge and returned to the Upper Rogue River Trail, it was a brand new trail experience for me. Part of this section was also new for the Glenn and Carol contingent.

It's a Richard Hike!
After Takelma Gorge, the Rogue had returned to its easygoing persona but once past Trail Bridge, the river became a series of noisy and scenic rapids. It would retain that flavor for most of the latter half of the hike. The trail flavor changed too, as along Takelma Gorge the trail is mostly level, but here trail went steeply up and down the slopes above the river.

Part of the annual spring migration
At one point near the end, the trail peeled away from the river and executed a prolonged tour through the forest atop a level bench. Not particularly exciting after hiking all day along a scenic river, but that's what happens when you have to detour around private property. It was a welcome change to return back to the river which had changed personality again. We had started our hike along the wild Rogue River but now we were walking along the totally domesticated Rogue River, it's the river equivalent of what happens to a single man after he gets married (present company excepted!).

The Rogue gets tamed
The Rogue River pooled into inviting swimming holes behind a diversion dam at North Fork Park, near Prospect, and the dam spillway was putting on a noisy and thundering display.  It was Rogue's last hurrah before getting unceremoniously stuffed into water pipes, the water flow generates electricity so we can use our cell phones.

More mental floss
This was an 11 mile hike and, combined with the Dellenback Dunes hike the day before, the weekend produced nearly 20 miles of hiking. Mental floss of the first degree and I'm good for another week of work with maybe a little bit of overtime. 

Our view for most of the 11 miles
For more pictures, please visit the Flickr album, and for Glenn and Carol's take on this hike, click on this link.


  1. I always enjoy your hiking reports. I really need to get off my butt and get in shape. My hikes have been short and easy.

    1. Hey Jim, I decided I need to get into better shape this year...not quite "mission accomplished" but getting there

  2. Wow, I have to get here sometime for some of my own mental flossing!

    1. The URRT is about 48 miles long and is on "the list". Higher on the list is doing a shuttle hike to Boundary Springs and then putting out in Crater Lake NP. I'll keep you posted on that