Thursday, June 9, 2022

Grand Ronde River still worth visiting post-fire ... plus Idaho Free Fishing Day and Boise Mountain Bike Festival!

Wendy is happy to be on the Grand Ronde River! 

Hi all, 

Boy, rivers all over the Pacific Northwest have been bursting with life - more like peaking! - in the last week or so. The Salmon River was running higher than 55,000 cubic feet per second, and the Boise and Payette were roaring with big spring runoff, all precipitated by bursts of warm weather and plenty of rain. 

The Salmon seemed too high for our taste, so we checked on the Grand Ronde River in Eastern Oregon. It was rising to more than 11,000 cfs last week. And I thought, Dynamite! I'm going! I've run it at that level before, and it pretty much remains a Class 2-3 FAST whitewater experience in a solid raft. 

We put together a quick 5-person two-boat trip and set off for La Grande, OR, last Thursday afternoon. We stayed with our friends Russ and Mary West at their ranch in Imbler the night before launch, and that worked out great since it stormed all night.   

We awoke to sunshine and partly cloudy skies Friday morning, and launched on the river by 11:30 a.m. We had four days of wild river bliss to look forward to, floating from Minam to Powatka Bridge, a distance of about 35 miles. 

Our main concern was dodging rain storms in the forecast. Nearly every day had a good chance of rain. But with the river ripping at more than 10 mph, we covered the miles with ease. (My friend's Strava feed recorded our max speed at 13 mph! Ha!; raft speed at summertime flow = 3-5 mph) Our strategy was to make camp early, get the tarp set up, and be prepared for the inevitable rain storms. 

My tarp covers the whole kitchen area plus room for lawn chairs 

I've got a Cascade Outfitters deluxe 16' x 20' foot rain tarp, and that kept us dry all weekend.  

I love the expression on Wendy's face ... 

With the weather drying out somewhat here on June 9, the Grand Ronde should be a fabulous destination for multi-day river trips in the next month and beyond ... it is so verdant and gorgeous in the canyon right now! 

We saw a lot of yellow lupine on the river banks ... a rare treat! 

One thing to keep in mind is that the Bureau of Land Management is restricting camping on the Grand Ronde from Bear Creek 13 miles downstream due to a 23,000-acre wildfire that burned last July. That takes a lot of primo campsites out of play during your trip. So plan accordingly. 

We like staying high in the canyon and laying over at nice camps in the forest. You can still do that. 

Fire perimeter map

After floating through the burn zone, we thought it must have been a pretty fast-moving burn. The land seems to be recovering quickly judging from all of the regrowth we saw everywhere! 

Typical views of the fire from last year. Seemed like a positive mosaic burn. 

We saw quite a few green ponderosa pines that survived the fire. 

To learn more about floating the Grand Ronde River, go here. It's a National Wild and Scenic River, and deservedly so. 

Also going on this weekend ... it's Free Fishing Day in Idaho! You can go fishing on a pond, lake, stream close to home, use free fishing gear in selected locations and teach your kids how to fish! 
Here's a post from Recreate Responsibly Idaho about Free Fishing Day in Idaho! 

At Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, the Boise Mountain Bike Festival will be happening on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. The main trails that are open right now are accessible from the Morning Star quad. Bogus has a detailed listing of what trails are open on Saturday. 

Weather looks good this weekend through Saturday to do just about anything outdoors. And then the temperature drops over 20 degrees Sunday, and a chance of showers is forecast ... so you might try to get out on Saturday for sure! 

Have fun! 
- SS 

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