Monday, May 25, 2015

Grand Ronde River Trip

This Memorial Day Emily, Leo and I went on a great Grand Ronde River rafting trip with Jason and his dog Arby, Adam, Slaughter, Josh, Alina and their dog Baya.  This was a 45 mile river trip from Minam, OR to Troy, OR that we would take 4 leisurely days to raft.  We had three boats, Josh & Alina with Baya and Jason and Arby on an oar boat and Emily, Brian and I on a rental boat from PSU.  Despite a little rain at the start we had a great trip.  Read on…

After a late business dinner on the 21st Emily and I packed up the Prius with gear and Leo and headed out to the Minam State Park Campground about 4.5 hours from Portland to meet up with everyone.  We got there around 1:30am to still find Josh and Adam awake drinking :).  After quickly setting up the tent in the dark we got a good night’s rest.  

On Friday we had a long hour shuttle drive over dirt roads through the hills to Troy to drop off Brian’s Truck and Josh’s car at the takeout.  It was a little confusing finding out where to take out in the tiny town but after some advice from a local we figured out we had to drive down the road a little bit, cross a bridge over the river, then head back up a dirt road to park on the other side of the river from the tiny town.  There are only 25-30 people who live in Troy year round.  Definitely a small town!  The school also serves as the public library.  

The drive over the hills was pretty amazing.  The dirt road switch-backed down an incredibly steep hillside to the river and there were definitely no guard rails.  One slip and any car would tumble several thousand feet!  When we got back to the Minam Store at the put in Emily, Jason and Alina had the rafts and dogs pretty much ready to go and we were on the River around 1:30 or 2pm.  This was an incredibly easy section of river with only maybe 1 Class III to think about so I didn’t hesitate to volunteer to guide one of the rafts.  I’d never guided before so this was a perfect opportunity to get my feet wet doing it.  

This was Leo’s first official raft trip and from Day 1 we could tell he was going to be wonderful in the boat.  He just sat calmly with his new doggy pfd on and plopped his butt down on one of the seat tubes of the raft.  He seemed incredibly calm and only during some of the biggest rapids did he lean a bit towards Emily for comfort.  Baya, on the other hand, went nuts.  She clearly was terrified to be on the water and began whining loudly as soon as we put on the river.  Only when she was able to jump between boats and check on everyone did she quiet down at all.  We rafted just over 3 hours the first day and due to the fast moving water we were able to travel about 17 miles!  

We had all split up meals for the trip and Emily and I had the first night.  I had made a giant batch of goulash for the trip and it was just the right amount for all of us after the long first day of shuttling and rafting.  I can’t clearly recall what the other nights meals were but I remember one to be Mexican as usual :).  Each night we had a fire and hung out chatting with each other and passed around whiskey - typical rafting trip.  

We decided to do a layover day on Saturday because we were making great time on the river.  It had rained overnight but by late morning had cleared up allowing us to hang out in the sun and go for a short hike up the hillside for better views of the river below.  On the way up Jason nearly stepped on a rattlesnake so we took care to keep the dogs close by us on the hike.  I was feeling a bit lazy so I didn’t climb as high up the hillside as the rest, instead taking time to snap some photos of flowers and Eagles flying overhead.

On Sunday and Monday we were back on the river.  We saw some deer, lots of hooded merganzer ducks, geese, a few Eagles, and even a mountain goat on up a hillside.  Brian, Emily, Leo and I stayed a good distance ahead of Baya who never seemed to find her peace with being on a rafting trip.  Leo seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.   The landscape was great but not as pretty as some of the wild & scenic routes of the Rogue, Deschutes, or Salmon.    We didn’t see a ton of wildlife but I attribute that to Baya’s terror on the river.  We saw other boaters but easily found campsites each night.  

On Monday we had a very easy float out to the takeout.  The river got much wider and much slower and we spent a little bit of time paddling just to keep moving along.  At the takeout Leo slipped getting out of the boat and caught a leg in the rope of the boat which I think may have hurt him a bit.  He was limping occasionally for weeks after… :(  Baya and Arby were also misbehaving at the takeout which really pissed off one woman so they had to be tied up to a fence while we packed up the rafts.  

From there it was a fun ride in Brian’s truck back over the hills to Minam where we hugged it out and then drove back to Portland.  Great trip.  Thanks to Jason for organizing and also for taking care of the groover… :)

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