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Back in October, just after the close of permit season, two friends and I headed to the southwest corner of Oregon to hit up the classic Wild & Scenic Rogue river. We were self-supporting the classic 35 mile stretch from Grave Creek to Foster Bar. It’s a beautiful place which offers fantastic scenery and abundant wildlife and is mostly class III, with just a few harder rapids.

Although we camped near Grave Creek and got a fairly early start, we somehow did not get on the water until about 1pm. It can take a long time to organize and pack your gear if you haven’t done it before. Maybe a bit of cooking breakfast and loafing around, too.

We finally put on and headed down river. We had our first swim at only the second rapid, Grave Creek Falls (III). This made me a little nervous knowing that we had so many rapids to go, and also, since I was playing the part of “guide,” I felt a weight of responsibility for my paddling partners. Not to mention, this was my first time doing the Rogue. But, I remained confident in the skills and abilities of our entire crew. Once you’re out there, what else can you do but stay positive?

Then another swim. This led to one tired paddler with decreased confidence despite the fact that she ran several other rapids quite well. We only made it about 7 miles, which put us behind schedule (we only planned 2 1/4 days for the trip).

Day 2 was really fun with lots of fun class III rapids. We had only one swim but still only made it about 10 miles, which put us even further behind schedule. We were only half way through the run when we were supposed to be only a few miles from the take-out.

On our last day, we had about 17 miles to go. We got an early start since we were on a mission to finish the run before dark. This was the best day of the trip since the best rapids and scenery are in this section: Mule Creek Canyon, the Coffeepot, and Blossom Bar.

We made it through Mule Creek and the Coffeepot just fine, and we had our final swim of the trip at Blossom Bar. I thought Blossom Bar was the most fun rapid, with fun maneuvering around all the boulders. And it’s all so pretty, especially in the box canyon, Mule Creek.

We also floated past a huge bear! He just stood there and watched us float by, fumbling with our cameras. We got to see a lot of wildlife: the bear, fish jumping everywhere, bald eagles, osprey, and herons. And let’s not forget the fall pumpkins placed randomly throughout the run!

We had such a great time. We were able to cover the remaining 17 miles on the last day despite our previous slow pace (we totally thought we might have to spend an unplanned night on the river). I was stoked to safely lead our crew down a river I hadn’t done before and also to get them stoked on self-supporting.

Here are some tips for a successful self-supported kayaking mission:
– Always carry a rope, pin kit, and first aid kit (well, duh)
– Carry a breakdown paddle
– Bring extra layers and food (we were delayed and might have needed an extra day’s worth of food)
– Know your routes out
– Don’t just print off the online float guide. Get a real guidebook and map if one exists for the stretch of river you’re doing.
– Be prepared for rain if the forecast is dicey (if you wear a drysuit, I prefer a versatile poncho over an unzipped drysuit to full rain gear. Then i can just wear my river shoes with the drysuit instead of packing additional footwear for a rainy camp.)
– If it’s cold, a thermos of hot tea for the middle of the day cannot be beat!

As usual, I paddled my Jackson Rogue and continue to love the packability of the boat. I packed a little differently for this trip than I have in the past. For one, I kept the center pillar in the boat since it’s important for safety on rocky rivers. There was still ample room for my two “stern” bags in the bow, loaded with gear. There was plenty of room behind my seat for my 11″ x 4″ groover (made from 8″ ABS pipe) as well as my first aid kit and throw bag. And the hatch on the stern is always great. Once you have your system down, the Rogue is super easy to pack and unpack. Who needs raft support when you have a Jackson Rogue!?

See you on the river!

Jen Jakub