We have only been back from the Grande Ronde for less than 48 hours, but it already feels like an eternity ago! Such is life.
We knew the approaching three-day Labor Day weekend would present an opportunity to explore a river farther away from home, but little did I realize we would choose one that would add up to 14 hours of driving. Whew, long hours in the car, but at least we had spectacular scenery and many podcasts to keep our brains busy.
It wasn't until Friday morning (the day we wanted to leave) that we thought about checking into the Grande Ronde River in the North East corner of Oregon. We had been up that way and boated the upper stretch of the Minam River in June (the Minam joins the Wallowa River and then downstream joins the Grande Ronde River).
I called Grant Ritchie of Minam Raft Rentals to get his take on packrafting options in the area, and he suggested boating the 39 miles from his store at the confluence of the Minam River and Wallowa River, down to Wildcat bridge. Most of the river is along a road-less stretch, and at 550cfs, the river would be just right for packrafts.
We decided the trip would be just boating, no hiking, and set up a shuttle with Grant. We jumped in the car after work and drove the six hours to the put-in. In daylight the next morning, the river looked scarcely boatable. Wide sections of the river-bed spread out what little water there was into a very thin sheet of current over the rocks. We met some rafters at the put-in, and I seriously doubted their ability to travel down the river (in reality they did fine, although jumping out to pull the raft was a common occurrence).
What followed was a very mellow river run, a few instances of running the boats aground in shallow areas, and a very serene few days. Camps, while not super plentiful, always appeared when we needed them.
|This was the most "packing" we did all trip: from camp to the river, oh about 30 feet!|
We must return to boat from Wildcat Bridge to the Snake River. Eastern Oregon is a pretty wild and wide place with much to explore!
|Some lady Big Horned Sheep met us on the way out of the river.|