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MailTribune.com
  • Boomers on the Trail

    Ten local friends, most of them baby boomers, recently hiked 51 miles along the lower Rogue River Trail
  • For more than 20 years, my wife, Barbara, and I had dreamed of hiking the trail along the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River. In May, we made that dream a reality.
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  • For more than 20 years, my wife, Barbara, and I had dreamed of hiking the trail along the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River. In May, we made that dream a reality.
    We have run the section several times, in hardshell and inflatable kayaks, camping along the river on gravel bars or sandy banks. But we had never hiked the Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Foster Bar, which the BLM website and Forest Service maps say is 42 miles long.
    I organized a four-day, three-night trip and invited four other couples to join us: my brother and sister-in-law, James and Annetta Stout, and friends Art and Carolee Buck, David and Skye Sugar and Chrissy Brown and her sister, Jody Clark. Most of us are baby boomers in our 60s, so in deference to our age and wisdom, we decided to stay in the river lodges instead of camping. It made our packs lighter because we didn't need to carry shelter and food, and we were rewarded each day with a hot shower, home-cooked meal and clean bed.
    We used hiking poles with shock-tips and chose ultra-light Osprey Exos backpacks, which weigh less than two pounds. In our packs, we carried a change of clothes, extra socks, rain jacket, 70-ounce water bladder, water filter, first-aid kit, minimal toiletries, sunscreen, Tecnu (a soap for washing off poison oak) and high-energy trail snacks. Filled, our packs weighed 25 pounds and they fit very comfortably, distributing the weight so evenly that we hardly noticed the load. I also brought my Oregon 650 Garmin GPS, so I'd know exactly how far we really hiked.
    The first day we hiked from Grave Creek to Black Bar Lodge, a distance, according to the BLM, of 9.4 miles; my GPS registered 11.34 miles. It turns out there is a big difference between river miles and trail miles. The trail climbs over a rocky path above the river and provides spectacular views of the rapids at Grave Creek, Whisky Creek and Rainey Falls.
    At places the trail is quite narrow and precipitous, so we had to gingerly pick our way along. The views were so breathtaking that we would often stop to take photos and simply gaze in awe. The canyon is wild and within a mile from the trailhead, we had entered a world of steep, forested slopes with the river shimmering below in the morning light, a flowing, blue ribbon in the wilderness.
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