Friday, December 22, 2017

Rogue River Trail 12/2017

After we finished this hike, I dropped Daweson off at his home. On the front porch, his parents and other assorted other relatives were sitting and conversing in the early evening. "How was your hike?" they asked. Daweson replied with an air of casual nonchalance, "We weren't feeling it today, so we only hiked 7.5 miles". It was kind of like a mike drop without the mike and I do believe he has mastered the fine art of bragging without braggadocio. He's definitely my grandson!

The trail makes my inner mountain goat happy
Of course, those of us that live in the hiking world are quite aware that 7.5 miles is just another hike, the moderate distance not necessarily constituting an epic test of manhood or womanhood. But the day was cold and chilly, and a brisk wind intermittently swept up the Rogue River canyon so we were both OK with the rather bland length of the hike.

Snow, in the mountains above
According to the car themometer, it was 34 degrees at the start and it would "warm" up to 38 degrees by hike's end. The sky was darkly overcast and foreboding, it felt like rain was an imminent eventuality and snow a distinct possibility.  Snow line was about 500 feet above us, although the snow covered ridges and peaks were all hidden by the cloud cover. And just to hammer the cold nail point home, a gusty wind cuffed and buffeted all life forms shivering in the river canyon. This was Daweson's first time on the Rogue River Trail and it was a rather chilly initiation by one of Oregon's premier hiking trails.

The Rogue River, all day long

The trail charged up to the cliffs above the river and provided view after view after view of river and canyon. The river was running fairly clear and was showing off a deep blue green color. Despite the gloomy weather, there is something about an aquamarine river coursing through a mossy green rocky canyon on a gray day. The one member of our party with a camera soon lagged behind, taking picture after picture of the moody scenery.

Daweson gawks at ospreys and Sanderson Island
After a mile or so, bouldery Sanderson Island hove into view. The trail here seems particularly cliffy and is one of my favorite photo stops, even though I probably have taken thousands of photos from the same spot. It never gets old and I never tire of the views on the Rogue River Trail. Anyway, as we stopped to gawk at the island, an osprey sped up the canyon, barely flapping its wings as it rode the air currents. 

The high-water-mark mark

A short climb up a brief paved section of trail brought us to the high water mark. By way of explanation, the river flooded in 1964 and a sign marks where the river crested about 50 feet above river level. There used to be a bridge here, and all that remains of the bridge are cement piers on the south bank. The rest of the bridge was swept away in that massive flood event from 1964. That would have been a rare good day to cancel hiking on the Rogue River Trail. 

Madrone and laurel
After the high water mark, the trail entered a forest comprised of that odd Siskiyou Mountains mix of laurel, tan oak, madrone, and conifers of various specie. We could hear Rainie Falls roaring below, but the falls were pretty much hidden from view by the trees. This time of year, all manner of creeks and runoffs were splashing across the trail and we got plenty of practice rock-hopping across wet spots.

Whiskey Creek

At Whiskey Creek Camp, a campsite for the rafting crowd, we strolled on the sandy beach next to the river. The river was slow and tranquil here, its ponderous bulk still somewhat menacing. Across the river, Rum Creek splashed noisily into the Rogue while on our side of the river, Whiskey Creek did likewise. With Booze Creek up ahead another mile, one could infer that the Rogue River drove prospectors of yesteryear to drink.

Mushroom at Whiskey Creek Cabin

Despite my urging, Daweson refused to touch the wires of the bear pen fencing. The bear pens (my term) are small corrals, connected to a car battery,  in which rafters and backpackers store their food inside for the purpose of deterring habituated bears from raiding camps. From personal (accidental) experience, those wires do pack a sharp bite, so it's probably a good thing Daweson doesn't always blindly obey his supposedly wiser grandfather.

Daweson, working on his spaghetti arms
We turned around at Whiskey Creek Cabin, a former prospector abode now doing duty as a backwoods museum of sorts. The cabin is stuffed with tools, tin cans, and antique bedsprings, providing a rusty look into the pioneering and mining history of the Rogue River. Strewn about the site are large heavy pieces of rusting mining equipment while the remnants of a flume ditch can still be seen in the woods above the cabin. 

Cliff-hugging trail at Sanderson Island
From there it was back the way we came, the wind at our backs this time. Despite the dark sky, the clouds never made good on the threat of rain. Even though we walked in less than optimal conditions, Daweson averred that his first Rogue River Trail experience was indeed a grand venture. Plus, it gave him the rightful opportunity to artfully boast about the hike.

Manzanita tree
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album. 

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