Back at the Coast

We've arrived back at the Coast – it's the Oregon coast this time, and the Pacific Coastal Highway, or Highway 1 has become state route 101. But it's still raining and there's still lots of cool things to see.

Yesterday we drove from the inland mountains around Crater Lake and the NF Rogue, through Eugene to the coast. We wanted to see the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and then drive up the coastline to Sea Lion Cave and Seal Rock. The Oregon Dunes were impressive – there was lots of sand, but not quite the rolling expanse of sand made hills that I'd expected. We found a Whale viewing platform, but no Whales – their migration doesn't happen this time of year. Sea Lion Cave was apparently the largest sea cave in the world – but we decided not to part with $20 to find out. We did see Sea Lions swimming and lying on rocks in the next bay up the coast, which was free and probably more impressive – we were pleased.

Driving onwards, we came to Seal Rock, but found no seals – loads of cool birds and some funny sea weed, though. Driving back into town to find some food we saw where all the seals were – they'd found a sandbar under the road bridge, so we stopped and watched them for a bit. (Seals are smaller and cuter than Sea Lions, and can't use their back legs on land)

Next food: we found a fish and chip restaurant. We'd driven past this earlier at 3:55, and saw a sign saying “All you can eat fish and chips, Wednesday 4 'til 8”, we decided that fate wanted us to eat lots of fish. So we did, it was lovely fresh caught cod.

Today it started raining, but we're still going to drive up the coast and find Tillamook, where they make Cheese, Ice Cream and Fudge.

We've updated our Calendar and uploaded some more photos and a very cute video.

NF Rogue

Photos Sharon, Simon and Cheryl took of me and Simon in the Takelma gorge on the North Fork of the Rogue, and Sharon paddling a suprising drop at the top (the photo doesn't show the 90deg bend and drop just upstream…) {smoothgallery folder=images/gallery/NFRogue/}

Northern Forks

Heading North from Crater Lake we spent two days paddling sections of the North fork of the Umpqua, a lovely run with very cold water. On the second day we met up with Simon and Cherly and decided to head back to the North Fork of the Rogue so that we can rerun the lower section and paddle the gorge I'd previously inspected.

The North Fork of the Umpqua has several sections, we paddled two. Both are icy cold (57F, whatever that is in English) and good fun, with lots of grade three rapids and some beautiful flat sections with pretty cool rock formations.

Bumping into Simon and Cheryl meant we could head back and run one of the sections of the NF Rogue that I'd looked at but decided was too hard for Sharon and I alone. We headed back into it and after what seemed like 2hours scouting the 1mile walled in gorge, Simon and I decided to run it, with Sharon and Cheryl taking photos (we'll upload some good ones next time we get online – there are loads).

The gorge was well worth the return trip and having the benefit of a shuttle vehicle we continued down the next section, making it a pretty good, full day on the river.

We're now heading to the coast to check out some sand and seals, or sea lions (and work out the difference), and then to Portland and meeting up with Simon and Cheryl again next week to run the White Salmon and the Little White Salmon…

Shakespeare, ex-volcano and showers

Carrying on our tour in Oregon we stopped in to catch a play at a Shakespeare festival, saw North America's deepest and cleanest lake and found a bargainous campsite. A tourist leaflet took us to Ashland, a town we may not have headed to, but was well worth a visit for their Shakespeare Festival. The Elizabethan theatre is open air and it was here, we watched the Tempest – one of David's favourites and one I hadn't seen before. It was a great performance, made even better by the setting sun behind the stage. The gift shop was of interest as well since they sold some English novelties such as PG Tips, Tunnocks Caramel Wafers and Crunchie bars! It was a lovely end to a day that too much time had been spent in various car places while Macy's brakes were sorted out, and the drive shaft replaced for a second time! The wrong one had been put on the first time so at least this was done free of charge…

From here, we headed to the North Folk of the Rogue which had some very interesting geological sights. Its a relatively young area, with much volcanic influence. We saw lava tubes that had collapsed, and others which were plugged. At one point, the majority of the river is hidden as it makes its way through a network of these lava tubes, and all that can be seen are blow holes giving a hint of the turbulence of the water. We took a look at one of the gorges which was thankfully blocked with a tree, preventing us looking at it from a paddling perspective any more – it wasn't nice looking. David had a look at a gorge that is paddled but again decided he didn't fancy paddling it and so it was we ran a lovely section of fun grade 3 with a 6.5 mile trail to hike for the shuttle.

Oregon's only National Park is Crater Lake, a beautiful blue lake formed by the collapse of volcanic Mount Mazama over 7,000 years ago, making it the 7th deepest in the world] and [because it's fed only by rain and snow it's one of the clearest. There was surprisingly a lot of snow still there considering its nearly the end of June, but apparently the area has an average 45 feet of snow per year! The East Rim Drive was still closed because they hadn't cleared all the snow yet, and the walk we did up Garfield's Point certainly got more challenging because of the white stuff. It was a stunning place and though we saw no ginger cats, we saw a few chipmunks again.

A book at the gift shop meant we found a campsite costing $5.50 a night which had hot showers (a true luxury while on the road) and gave us chance to refill water. It was a great find, where we tried our best to burn one of the huge logs Macy had been carrying around for us, and ate yummy pizzas prepared by our own fair hands.

The next river on our list is the North Folk of the Umpqua, before we head west back to the Pacific Coast. In the meantime, David has been putting more thought into an English Macy – he's decided a caravan inside a minivan is what we need. Maybe some more thought is needed yet!

Furry critters

What we got to see off the water too…

While cooking dinner at a trailhead last night, a big white truck pulled up with lots of barking coming from the back. A man got out and warned us he had 6 dogs in the back, 3 were puppies, but that they were friendly and he would try to get in between them and us. We were slightly apprehensive when he opened the boot, and certainly hadn't expected the flurry of black and white, and a little bit of brown, furry bodies that jumped out. “You didn't tell us they were collies!” For those who don't know, border collies are my favourite dogs and I have two at my mum's. Waiting very patiently till they finished their walk, I got to pet the brown and white one which was as soft as you could imagine – a lovely treat!

We stayed at the trailhead and on the recommendation of some friendly locals, took a walk in the morning which led round several different ecosystems and was very pretty. However I did have to avoid the plentiful but nasty poison oak which can cause itchy bite like rashes that seem to last forever…

From here, we followed another recommendation and went to Wildlife Images which is a sanctuary/hospital for injured wild animals. We hadn't realised we should have booked on a tour, but was lucky enough to catch one leaving within half an hour. Here we saw a massive grizzly bear (I'd be glad never to get this close to one again, but the electric fence was reassuring), a few black bears (including one taking a shower), bald eagles, a golden eagle, grey wolves and a rather cute American badger that apparently is one of the few animals a black bear will stand down from! There were lots of other animals too, lots that we had seen in the wild which was great, and the tour was pretty educational. Definitely worth a visit.

We're going to Grants Pass now where we hope to treat Macy to a little oil change. I'm sure we'll be back on the water soon though!

Rogue Paddlers

A write up on our completed Rogue River trip.

We've now left California and headed over the border to Oregon, where we wanted to check out the Rogue river, one of the first designated Wild and Sccenic rivers. Problem was its a run needing permits that are handed out annually and the section is 34 miles long with no way to cut it down. Plus we didn't have a shuttle.

However a visit to a rafting outfitter soon meant we had a potential shuttle and so we headed to the Ranger station and were lucky enough to pick up a permit from some of the cancellations they had. This was bear territory and so I (Sharon) was keen to do the run in two days which meant 17 miles each day…

It started pretty well with us getting on at 1pm Saturday, but the wind soon picked up making it a little harder work. The rapids were bouncy and fun, and the guidebook we had picked up, turned out to be very accurate. Not long after 5pm, we pulled in to ask some camping rafters how far we were as our plan was to get half way down the river. They very kindly invited us to join them at their camp and provided a cold beer when we got out – Heinekin has never tasted so good. A group of famiy and friends, they were running the river in 5 days and had actually got off to camp because of the wind before we'd even got on the river that day… Their hopsitality was awesome and soon we were provided with hot proper food (not the dehydrated packet stuff we'd had to look forward to) and wine – incredible! It turns out Bill and Donna owned NRS (a paddling/rafting company) and so we had chats about the kit differences over here. Everyone made us feel very welcome, and we had the luxury of songs around a campfire, complete with S'mores! (For the uninitiated, these are toasted marshmallows sandwiched between honey crackers and chocolate – perfect for ensuring my blood sugars didn't go too low) They even had spare chairs enough for us! The rafters from the camp next door were also invited, making a lovely evening with people for who the river was an important part of life. We were able to put our food in a bear proof box, and so well fed and content, we slept well.

The next morning, fuelled on by a heart cooked breakfast courtesy of our new friends, we carried on downriver making good progress. In fact, we reached the take out before 1pm meaning the whole trip had taken 24hours, an impressive feat I think! It was a lovely, fun river even if we didn't see quite as much wildlife as we hoped – however we did see turtles, deer, ospreys, bald eagles and lots of baby ducks.

We're going to have a couple of days off paddling and are heading to see the Tempest at a Shakespeare festival in Ashland on Tuesday.