When we asked our Eddie Bauer guide team how they planned to celebrate the summer solstice, they came back with some great responses and expansive ideas. But once again it was Eddie Bauer adventure kayaker Chris Korbulic who delivered, this time with his blog post about returning to his whitewater roots on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. It is a story that makes us want to head south to Oregon right now, on the longest daylight weekend of the year.
Words and Images by Chris Korbulic
I wasn’t easy to travel with, and was generally unpleasant to be with in public, especially crowded restaurants or tight spaces, or so my parents tell me. It wasn’t until we got out away from town and in the forest or on the river that I became somewhat more manageable, apart from apparently always trying to wound myself by climbing, jumping, swimming or otherwise hurtling myself toward menace and peril. My parents were there to pick up the pieces when I inconveniently succeeded, and some 20 years later little other than the insurance bill has changed with my risk-inclined self. (Did I say inclined? I meant averse.)
Some of my earliest memories are from summer trips with my family down the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, literally out the back door of my house. We, as in my dad, would load up the raft and all our gear for three days of floating through the wilderness a couple times a summer, more if I was lucky. If any experience can build an appreciation for the river and outdoors, it’s floating three amazing days of whitewater, beautiful camping, and abundant wildlife. This is where I could climb and jump, swim and swing and be more like Tarzan than anywhere. Nose to nose with black bears, bald eagles catching fish in front of the raft, rowing my first rapids, I couldn’t ask for better days as a kid, and still can’t.
This summer, during my favorite days of the year between my birthday and the summer solstice, I wanted to return to the Rogue that taught me so much. This was my first trip in years, after leaving Southern Oregon for university, then starting a series of international expeditions that has left little time for my beloved Rogue and its wonders. My parents still live just up the road from the put-in, still have that old raft I loved to jump out of so much, and were keen for me to take it back down the Rogue. They had even made the trip the week before, leaving the raft all rigged and ready to float.
When we pushed off from the Grave Creek boat ramp and turned the first corner, it was like stepping back in time to the excitement of going into the wilderness. We had perfect weather, good water, and great company to make it an unforgettable return to the Rogue. Black bears, eagles, ospreys, giant jumping spring salmon, and me there just to take it all in and pass through unnoticed. Many places we passed, I recalled memories of family trips over the years: jumping from my first high rocks, paddling my dad’s kayak, meeting a bear on the trail, doing my first big kayak seal launch. To the Rogue that taught me so much, a family that introduced me to it, and the calm it still produces in me, I will be forever thankful. No matter where I go, there is always some Rogue in me, and it always leads me back to the river, always back to the Rogue.
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