Today was white water rafting day on the Umpqua River. Not only is white water rafting fun, it is also quite a workout requiring a lot of core and back strength.
The Umpqua River follows along scenic Highway 138 that cuts across the interior of Oregon from around Eugene all the way to Crater Lake National Park. Small towns with no stop lights or stop signs dot the highway every 25-50 miles apart. If there were a couple of hundred people in each town it would be a lot.
There are many waterfalls along scenic Highway 138. Click here to see where they are located along the highway and how to get to them.
We were using Umpqua River Outfitters as our rafting company. From their website here is a brief history about this river:
For thousands of years – before the eruption of Mt. Mazama formed Crater Lake over 7,700 years ago, American Indians inhabited the North Umpqua River valleys. Settlements ranged from semi-permanent villages to temporary camps along rivers. Fishing, hunting game, and gathering plants were the only food sources these people knew.
Life changed dramatically in the 1800’s. Homesteaders largely displaced the American Indians. Similarly, this first generation of homesteaders had to rely on fish and game and what they could produce themselves.
The search for gold brought many emigrants to the North Umpqua. Mines were developed near Steamboat Creek, but only a few fortunes were made. What was discovered was the wealth of natural resources, in the form of trees. Big trees! Sawmills were built by the early 1900’s and a substantial timber industry developed.
In the 1920’s, recreation pursuits in the area increased. Visitors were drawn to the North Umpqua River because of the excellent fishing. A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established at Steamboat in the 1930’s. Corpsmen developed roads and constructed the Mott Bridge, campgrounds, cedar-bark covered outhouses, stone drinking fountains, log car barriers, bathhouses and other improvements to service recreation seekers.
Late in 1939, the North Umpqua Road, a gravel route connecting Roseburg with Diamond Lake via Copeland Creek, was completed, accommodating the increasing demand for fishing, hunting, camping and boating opportunities. It wasn’t until 1964 that the North Umpqua Highway became a paved route over the Cascade Mountains.
The Pick Up…and Put In…
Staying in a little tiny town called Idelyd off of Highway 138, we were picked up at our motel at 9AM.
Since it was Monday, there were only two rafts with a guide in each for the morning part of the run. After our lunch stop, a third raft was going to join us for the second part of the run.
The put in was at Toketee Falls for several miles of Class II’s and III’s, lunch around Horseshoe Bend then finish at Susan Creek Day use area where we would hit several Class III’s and one Class IV. Both segments was a total of about 14 miles, about six hours on the river.
Personally I like those that have lots of Class IV’s and some V’s (those are intense) but this was the best we could do for the area we were in.
Our guide was nicknamed Honey Badger. A Civil Engineer by trade he loves the river and wildlife and does this most of the time when he is not subcontracting work flipping homes. Quite an interesting person.
In the morning, Round 1…
The first half of the day was spent in Class II and III rapids. There were lull points during the rafting that let us enjoy our surroundings along the river with its rich history. We saw deer’s and a pair of eagles.
In this segment some of my favorites were Cardiac Arrest and The Wall, mostly because we ran right into the wall, a huge huge boulder sticking out of the water! On a side note, I found it very appropriate or a coincidence that the second raft in our grouping had a cardiologist and his family tackling the river with us!
We also passed bridges that had been washed out from a 100 year flood that occurred about 30 years ago. It was amazing to think that the river we were on had raised some 30 feet and knocked down trees to flow downstream and crush bridges. The new bridges were built at a considerably higher height.
Lunch was premade from a menu we were provided before the trip. It had heaping helpings of high quality lunch meat, toppings and condiments. Add Kettle Potato Chips and we were quite full and ready for a siesta. NOT!!! We couldn’t do that because we had to now do the afternoon segment!
Needless to say, with a lot more Class III’s and one IV ahead of us, the afternoon waters kept us wide awake. Favorites here were the three Frogger rapids, Toilet Bowl also known as Oh Shit and last but not least, Pinball the only Class IV of the day but it lived up to its name.
We had great fun, Umpqua Outfitters were superb and I highly recommend them.
Nothing beats thrills, spills and cold water on your face and body to be…Fit Forlife!