A Visit to Kitty Mack (Rogue River) 19-Mar-2020

Today was the first day of Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere; the earliest arrival of the spring equinox in 124 years. Spring, with its feelings of rejuvenation, renewal, and regrowth, is, across many cultures, generally a happy time. While absolutely acknowledging the challenge that Big V poses to our health and our economy, we were not going to let it diminish the positive feelings that come with Spring. So we decided to celebrate its arrival with a seven-mile (round-trip) walk on the iconic Rogue River Trail to the Whisky Creek Cabin, a National Historic Place and the former home of Lou Martin and Kitty Mac.

The walk from the trailhead at Grave Creek down along the Rogue River to Whisky Creek is a familiar one for us, as we’ve visited the cabin several times over the years. We arrived at the trailhead under a rapidly evaporating blanket of fog to find a private raft trip just putting-in. A permit is not required prior to May 1st so, if the weather is good, now is the perfect time for a private four-day trip down the Rogue.

The wry hiker smile graces the trailhead
The blanket of fog starts to dissipate
A raft trip on the river below Grave Creek Riffle

There’s a spot about 750 feet from the trailhead where an unnamed creek crosses the trail. In a wet year, like 2017, passing the resulting cascade can be a tricky and slippery challenge. Because of this year’s drought, the only challenge to crossing here was a wet spot.

The unnamed creek flushes the trail in 2017
This year, the creek was barely visible
Along the trail, with the fog continuing to lift
Along the trail under a leafy canopy
There was still a good flow in China Gulch, about two miles from the trailhead
Past China Gulch, with the fog gone and clear skies above
Scarlett Fritillary
Whisky Creek

The first Whisky Creek Cabin was built around 1880 by an unknown miner. Lou Martin, its last occupant, moved into the cabin in 1957, made many improvements, and lived there until 1973 when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) purchased the land.

Whisky Creek Cabin
Lou wasn’t married, so this may refer to the mice that likely scampered around the cabin
Bedroom
Coffee before Starbucks

During part of his time there, Lou had a little furry companion, a cat named Kitty Mack. “I had a cat, Kitty Mack. He was 18 years old when he died. He like fish so he got most of my fish. I don’t really care for canned fish. I really don’t.” K-M is buried next to a large stone a few paces west of the cabin.

Kitty Mac (1947-1961)

We had a snack at the cabin, then headed back. On our way to the cabin, we’d only seen the rafting trip on the river and a lone fisherman on the opposite bank. On our way back, however, we passed several hikers including a three-person backpacking trip. We had to do some gyrations to stay six feet away from other hikers on a trail that’s barely three feet wide in spots but we managed it.

Looking back toward Rainie Falls
Beneath the cliffs across from Sandersons Island
Grave Creek Riffle and the trailhead

As we were approaching the trailhead we saw another, larger, private raft trip going through Grave Creek Riffle just below the put-in. We reached the trailhead to find the parking lot almost full with raft rigs and trailers and hiker/backpacker cars. With the Big V getting all the attention, we’d forgotten that this is Spring Break for some people – many of whom seemed determined to enjoy the Rogue River either on foot or on a raft. Well, good on them! We got home and pumped some more money into the local economy by ordering take-out pizza from Kaleidoscope Pizza, a local business that makes astoundingly delicious slices! 😀

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2 comments

  1. Great photos and description. It looks like you had a lovely day to hike. Love the “wry hiker smile”! 🙂

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    1. Thanks! It was a very nice day for a hike (and for raft trips too apparently). 🙂 I called it a “wry” smile but I’m beginning to think it was more of a “not-another-photo-of-me” smile. 😉

      Like

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