We had gone all out yesterday to get within two, rapidless, miles of the take-out at Oak Flat. Which is also where the Illinois River Trail ends. So we got a somewhat leisurely start and were rowed on out. Momentum’s van and trailer arrived not too long after we did and it didn’t take long for the guides to get everything loaded. The bad news was that the Bear Camp Road was still closed and we’d have to return via Highway 199 – which added about two hours to our drive. The good news was that it was only pouring rain along the coast, not inland. Rebekah got dropped off in Grants Pass, us in Medford, and the rest continued on to Ashland. We were home by 6:00PM, just in time to keep our adorable new cat – Sofie – from trashing another ball of The LovedOne’s yarn stash. She is temporarily my cat when things like this happen. 🙄
A highly technical river like the Illinois was a completely different experience from the ones we’d had on larger rivers like the Colorado, Snake, and Salmon. This smaller, but highly convoluted, water was more intense and exciting and intimate than bigger waters and it was a privilege to be able to experience it. Running the Green Wall would have been a plus but not doing so didn’t detract in the least from what was, for me at least, exactly the trip I’d anticipated. After hiking the trail, I wanted to see the Illinois up close and that’s exactly what happened. The scenery – although a little scorched – is wonderful. And the startlingly clear water, with its various undulating shades of greens and blues, is absolutely amazing. Despite the drought, the side creeks were running well and almost all were decorated with colorful pink Indian Rhubarb. A bald eagle also made an appearance. It also didn’t hurt that we were a small, experienced group on a river that we had all to ourselves. In sum, it was a truly magical trip.
But we owed the positiveness of this experience to the professionalism, skill, and experience of our four guides. There are also really good, affable people – and good cooks. This is our second trip with Momentum and we remain impressed that this small, local company can attract such skilled and personable people. So much so that we’re scheduled (thanks 🙄 to last year’s virus debacle) to hike the Rogue River with them next month!
We embarked on a week-long trip to the Oregon Coast, partly for hiking and partly to give an invited talk at the Siuslaw Public Library on Oregon’s Wilderness Areas. This is a good time to visit the coast, as its ahead of the busy tourist season and the weather usually (but not always) cooperates with some sunshine. We had originally intended to visit the Japanese Bomb Site near Brookings, but that hike got shelved when we found its access road closed. So, after a night in Gold Beach, we continued north, in sunny 😎 but very windy weather, to do a short hike at Port Orford Heads State Park – an old Coast Guard lifeboat station. This visit gave us a good insight into the effort and dedication required to rescue ship’s crews in the days before powerful surf boats and helicopters.
Hiking trails follow Southern Oregon’s Rogue River for approximately 100 of the 215 miles it runs between its source at Boundary Springs (near Crater Lake National Park) and the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach, Oregon. Some of these trails are much hiked, others are almost unknown. We’d hiked all of them except for the Lower Rogue River Trail (USFS #1168) which follows the river for 12 miles from Agness, Oregon to near Gold Beach.
Having been granted a foul weather reprieve for one more dry visit to the Oregon Coast this year, we headed there to walk on the beach and enjoy a few short hikes. The second of these was an out-and-back (3.6 miles roundtrip; 1,000 feet of elevation gain) – on a section of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) – from the viewpoint atop Cape Sebastian (the highest point on the Southern Oregon Coast) to Hunters Cove. This hike in the Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor was a great one through stands of Sitka spruce past a wave-pounded rocky promontory to the wide beach at the Cove. Along the way we had stunning close-up views of the rugged coastline on yet another bluebird day!
When the first waves of winter wet arrived in November, we thought we’d missed our chance for one more dry visit to the Oregon Coast this year. But then high pressure took control ( a somewhat unusual occurrence) and the coastal forecast came up with 10+ days of clear, sunny, and mild conditions. So we headed to the coast to walk on the beach and enjoy a few short hikes. The first of these was an out-and-back (3.6 miles roundtrip; 800 feet of elevation gain) from the House Rock Viewpoint to Cape Ferrelo on a section of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. This proved to be a wonderful hike through stands of old growth spruce and red alder to the grassy top of the cape for breathtaking views of the rugged coastline on the most bluebird of days!
2020 Update: The Siskiyou Mountain Club has now repaired and restored the #1161, which was damaged by wildfires and landslides. They also restored the Florence Way Trail #1219A, which had been impassable for a decade or more.
In 2015, we backpacked the justifiably famous Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Foster Bar and had a wonderful time doing so (Rogue River Trail). As I was researching that trip, I kept coming across references to the Illinois River Trail (USFS #1161; but the sign at the trailhead says #1162) as a worthy adjunct to the Rogue trail. The western end of the Illinois River Trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail because of its outstanding scenic qualities and the Illinois River itself was added to the National Wild and Scenic River System in October 1984.