Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley

Lower Rogue River: Mule Creek to Brushy Bar; May 13-15, 2014

Backpackers: Maria G., Steve W., Lois P., Linden C., Carol M., Dami R.
Distance: ~6.5 mi. each way, plus optional day hike

We’ve backpacked this favorite mid-section of the Wild and Scenic Lower Rogue River several times — between Mule Creek TH (near Marial Lodge) and Brushy Bar CG (with dayhike downriver to Clay Hill Lodge). We won’t repeat trip details, which you can find in our 2011 and 2012 reports (and for BIG members, 2014 plans); instead we’ll highlight some differences from previous trips.

We cancelled our first reserved dates due to rain. Our second reserved dates didn’t work out as well for everyone, so Gretchen and Harley K. backpacked the trail on their own on May 10-12, and Dami hiked in with the main group, but returned by herself on Wed.

Tue. On our drive into Marial, we saw the devastation of last year’s fires west of Glendale, and a bear cub who scampered up a tree.

Compared to 2 years ago, poison oak seemed more pervasive along the trail, though a little easier to avoid, esp. in Blossom Bar section. TecNu application assured that even super-sensitive Maria did not react.

Weather was in 90s, but we had plenty of water from lodge/cabin taps and filtered from cool creeks. The Rogue was lower than usual, so we could access a small beach area right at our Brushy Bar campsite. We encountered a rattlesnake near our tents, who decided we looked too scary and disappeared for the remainder of our stay. A raccoon or Sasquatch stole one cooking set (pot&cups) overnight.

Wed. Maria, Lois, Linden and Carol day-hiked to Clay Hill Lodge and a creek beyond; Steve and Dami hiked the ‘shortcut’ over Devil’s Backbone Ridge; while Dami continued back to the trailhead, Steve ascended Deak’s Peak, then picked up several sodas and Caldera beers at Paradise for happy hour later at our camp (don’t expect this service on possible future trips ;-)).

A Portland group backpacking the entire 40 miles in 3 days (10-15 mi./day) pitched their half-dozen tents at the other side of Brushy Bar campground, and shared the bear locker and outhouse.

Thu. We ate lunch at Blossom Bar rapid (site of 2 deaths last summer). We saw many more hikers on the trail, many raft-assisted. This trail is likely to become even more crowded/popular, after this Mail Tribune article appeared the next day: Step by step along the Rogue: Local expeditions let visitors run or hike the Rogue River Trail with support from experienced guides.

Photo credits: Linden, Dami, Steve

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