Grande Ronde River Whitewater Rafting Trip
May 19th, 2014 - 6900 CFS - Class 2-3 and one Class 4 at the Narrows
Minam Oregon to Hellers Bar Washington, 92 miles in 5 days
We drove up from Roseburg on Sunday and camped at Minam State Park just a mile and half down the Wallowa River from the put-in at Minam Access. Monday morning we ate a quick breakfast and rigged our boats and put-in the Wallowa River. The water temperature was 42 degrees and the water was flowing very fast, as it turned out we averaged 6 mph on the trip. Only Brian had run the river before so it was a new experience for us. I love the simple permit system, just fill out the form.
I arranged the shuttle with:
61376 State Highway 129
Anatone, WA 99401
Fax: (509) 256-3296
Stop by for a huckleberry milkshake
House Rock was not a problem and soon we met up with the Grande Ronde River at the confluence.
Train bridge at the confluence of the Grande Ronde River and Wallowa River
I was impressed with the landscape and the canyon was deeper that I thought it would be. The water was moving so fast rowing was a real pleasure but there were hardly any eddies at this flow. We rafted just over 18 miles the first day. We found a small sandy campsite that fit our group well.
Wildflowers were out in full bloom along the river
Day two was a long day of about 30 miles going past Troy campsites were scarce. We were off the river at 5:00 PM with plenty of time to prepare dinner and set up camp.
We surprised a grazing deer along the river
Day three we visited Boggan's Oasis and had ice cream and milkshake. Three miles downstream we camped above the river on the left with some afternoon wind.
An Eagle was spotted in a tree top
Day four we got on the river early before 9:00 AM and camped at 11:30 AM with basically a layover day. Chinese Chicken Salad for lunch and Dutch Oven Lasagna for dinner. Trip members watched the Canadian Geese fly over and most napped in the afternoon.
Tiny yellow raft in the Grande Ronde Canyon landscape
Day five 8 miles to Hellers Bar take-out in an hour and half, but not without incident. We camped above the Narrows and two class three rapids. At this water flow the Narrows was a class four if you went down the middle. [What is the difference between class 3 and class 4? About ten feet to the left] We pulled into eddies above the Narrows and looked over the rapid. It seemed straight forward and there was a good line on river left. Darin and Brian went first, Darin decided to challenge the large waves and put on a good show with his bow reaching for the sky coming out of a big hole. Brian followed saying "boy 5 seconds and its over"....
Dan was in an inflatable kayak and followed the two 14' rafts however he realized that was a bad idea. He went into the big hole and went up the wave then stalled at the top, his kayak fell slightly to the left and over he went. The kayak stayed in the hole for a few seconds and Dan was out of sight. The second wave took him into the dark green room deep in the rapid. He patiently waited for what seemed to be a long time and he finally popped up close to his kayak. Dan climbed into his kayak and complained of nasal blast that would take a day or so to clear out of his head.
A great family trip with good campsites. Not a technical river but at this flow fast with few eddies. Great scenery, everyone said they would do it again.
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