Our second day on the Rogue River Trail would be our longest: 14.3 miles (22.9 km) from Black Bar, past Zane Grey’s cabin at Winkle Bar, to the lodge at Marial. The weather forecast had indicated a cooling trend but the weather itself hadn’t got the message. So we were looking at another hot (85°F / 29°C), sweaty day. Fortunately, there are several (very welcome) cool, shady stretches along this part of the trail. Most of the small, intermittent, unnamed creeks had already gone dry. But we noticed that many of the named creeks had not – which is probably why they got named in the first place. If you backpack this trail in mid-summer, when it’s really, really hot, these named creeks may be your only (mostly) reliable water sources. Because, while it may be a “river” trail, it doesn’t always take you very close to the cooling waters of the river itself.
After a hearty breakfast at Black Bar, Glen ferried us back across the river and we started downriver on the trail. The breakfast was great but it was way more than The LovedOne and I typically have before starting a hike. We struggled with digestion versus walking for a few miles. 🙄
At Winkle Bar, a side trail descends to Zane Grey’s cabin on the river. Grey bought the mining claim here from a prospector in 1926, had this cabin built, and then used it for several years as a place to stay while he was fishing and writing. Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) was his best-selling book. I found it readable but wordy (Grey started his writing career getting paid by the word). It made it easier to see why Hemingway’s intensely sparse, but highly evocative prose (e.g., Big Two-Hearted River), published just 13 years later, received such critical acclaim.
We stopped for lunch at Quail Creek. On this trip we had the option of either hiking, riding Glen’s raft (but not through Blossom Bar Rapids), or both. The heat was starting to get to The LovedOne, so she decided to ride down to Marial on the raft, which was an easier and cooler way to get there. I, in the dubious tradition of tough and stupid, continued on afoot for the remaining four miles or so to the lodge. This stretch of the trail climbs above the river, but is mostly in the shade, so there wasn’t too much suffering here.
Just upstream of the Rogue River Ranch (accessible by road), the trail joins with a road and I followed that around the ranch to the lodge at Marial. The ranch is currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and, in normal times, would welcome visitors between May 15 and October 15 (the rafting permit season). At this time it was closed to visitors. I pushed on to the lodge, to enjoy a cooling beverage with early arrivals Sue and Barb (we nicknamed them “The Gazelles”) before The LovedOne’s raft arrived. It had been a long, hot day on the trail and more than one cooling beverage became necessary for proper rehydration.
We’d walked past Marial Lodge on two previous occasions but had never stopped to visit it. We found it’s accommodations simple, yet comfortable. There are two decks for sitting and viewing the river – we availed ourselves of both. The lodge also has a resident dog – Maggie – who is very mellow and gets lots of attention from the guests.
The lodge host’s cooked us dinner and breakfast and both were excellent. That, along with another hot shower and more clean sheets, took us yet another step down the path to decadence. 😉 Since a raft would be carrying the extra weight, we even sprung for two Marial Lodge souvenir T-shirts. 🙂RETURN TO FRONT PAGE