'Pram Man' suspends Lost Creek-to-Pacific quest

Low provisions and an oncoming storm convinced Casey "Pram Man" Roland to suspend temporarily his quest to be the first person to row an aluminum boat the entire 157-mile length of the Rogue River from Lost Creek Reservoir to the ocean.

The 46-year-old Ashland arborist stashed his boat Monday and hiked out of the Lower Rogue Canyon late Tuesday to take a break on his trip that has proven more arduous than he expected.

With rains and high water expected through the weekend and into next week, Roland might have to wait until next Thursday or Friday to resume his quest, when flows through the Rogue's Wild and Scenic Section become more pram-friendly.

"I'm watching the weather and chewing my nails," Roland said Wednesday.

But Roland still expects that he and his boat will reach Gold Beach together and afloat.

Roland launched his 8-foot pram — less than half the size of a typical driftboat — on New Years Day in hopes of reaching the sea in as little as nine days.

But with the rapids more dangerous than normal because of lots of debris from winter runoff, Roland has had to scout each rapid before rowing it, and that severely slowed his progress, he says.

He broke an oar Saturday rowing Dunn Riffle near Galice and made it about eight miles into the 34-mile quest through the canyon before stopping.

When he stopped rowing Monday, flows were running about 4,600 cubic feet per second through the canyon as measured by the U.S. Geological Service gauge at Agness just downstream of the Wild and Scenic Section.

Amid this week's rains, the USGS forecasts flows at Agness to peak at around 10,000 cfs late tonight before dropping. But another freshet has the agency forecasting another rapid rise Sunday and peaking Tuesday around 18,000 cfs.

"I can't afford to get stuck in there when the water gets high," Roland says.

When the water drops, he plans to hike back to his boat with far more food than before, then resume through some of the toughest obstacles on his quest — Mule Creek Canyon and the famous Coffee Pot boil and Blossom Bar.

Tips: Do-it-yourself Montana fly trip

A Powell Butte writer/photographer and publisher of an electronic magazine will be in Medford on Wednesday to show local fly-fishers how to put together a self-guided tour of Montana fly streams.

Brian O'Keefe will provide the program for the monthly meeting of the Medford-based Rogue FlyFishers Association.

The program will focus on how to craft a do-it-yourself fishing trip that covers eight rivers in Montana.

He will discuss fly hatches, access, fly shops, accommodations and other information. The program is designed to help members plan an August trip to Montana and attend the Fly Fishing Federation Conclave in West Yellowstone in late August.

O'Keefe is a regular on the outdoor lecture circuit and has made several presentations to the local club. He has a free online e-zine called "Catch."

The meeting's wet-fly social hour begins at 6 p.m., with dinner beginning at 7 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel, 200 N. Riverside Ave., Medford.

The meeting is open to the public.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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