You might be wondering what this so-called “Wiking” term means. If you are anything like me, you will quickly jump onto Google and try to solve the mystery of not knowing what something is. Thankfully, this will not clue you in; rather it will leave you hanging in your own curiosity. Less than a year ago, I had the chance of a lifetime to be wined and dined in my very own backyard, the Rogue River Trail (RRT), and was able to find out the true meaning behind this term. Before I spill the beans, let’s talk about the region first.
Southern Oregon is blessed with a bounty of rivers, but my all-time favorite is the mighty Rogue. Needless to say, almost every single river in Oregon is awesome in their own way. In fact, did you know that out of the 222 protected rivers in the United States 60 of them are in Oregon? Not a bad stat to boast, right? One might call me partial due to the fact that I grew up in Gold Hill and had complete access to the Rogue only 100 feet from my house. This might be true, but I have to argue that there are many reasons that make the Rogue gorgeous and breathtaking. This river is so stellar that there have been over 18 movies filmed on the Rogue. I could start this off by giving you 101 reasons of “why I love the Rogue” such as it being nick-named the “fly fishers paradise” and so on, but I also know I would lose your attention after listing off the fifth reason. Therefore, I will cut to the chase. After my Wiking adventure in May 2013, my number one top reason for loving the Rogue (drum roll please…) is the Rogue River Trail!
On this trail, you can literally hike from a spot right outside Grants Pass all the way to the coast. Along the way you can visit the famous western novelist Zane Grey’s cabin, where he stayed while writing his books and fishing on the Rogue. If you are lucky, you might also notice turtles, otters, and possibly even black bears. You can hike into lodges that are only accessible by foot or air, and experience the beauty of what travelers around the world can only dream of being their own backyard. In fact, the Rogue is only one of two rivers in America where you can float lodge to lodge or view the wilderness from the seat of a rapid jet boat.
Lisa of RWA and myself posing in front of Zane Grey's cabin
Wiking down the Wild & Scenic
Wiking is the raft-supported hike (with wine and a great spread of food) for four days on the lower RRT while sleeping at three lodges along the way. Please note that this trip is only provided by Rogue Wilderness Adventures (RWA) based out of Merlin. With professional rafting guides and a winemaker at your disposal, you can hike the whole 44 miles, or jump on and off a raft between meals if your legs get tired. If you are up for the ride of Blossom Bar rapids, which I could not personally pass up. This is a class four rapid, and is only advised to run if you have extensive experience. I have to say, although that was not my “first rodeo” down a challenging river run; it was one of the best! Not only because it is one that I hear people talk about, but because I knew I was in such good hands.
So, you want to know about the trip you say? The Rogue River trail was built for pack mules or miners who had to push a wheelbarrow down the trail. Today, most hikers begin their trip by putting in at the Graves Creek boat ramp. As you begin the first day, you can look across the river and see Rainie Falls. This is one of my favorite hikes just right outside of Grants Pass. Blue herons and bald eagles are often spotted in this region, as well as a wide variety of colorful wildflowers.
The hike really is a more moderate one, consisting of flat walking with minimal incline and decline at times. You can hike five miles one day and fourteen the next, but not once did I feel like it was strenuous or “boot camp like”. As a side note, this is a good thing coming out of my mouth as I have a bum knee and am not that avid hiker I wish I could be. I love the vastness of the scenery along the way. At times you will find yourself looking down a steep hillside towards the Rogue, grassy fields, canyons, rocky terrains, lush forest, waterfalls and swimming holes all around you. The river itself has rapids ranging from one to six, although they change depending on the water level and time of the year.
The lodges range from rustic to top notch, but all have their unique qualities, which makes it impossible to choose your favorite. These stays include Black Bar, Marial and Paradise Lodge. Each lodge had jolly staff members and warm, home-cooked hearty meals to offer us hungry hikers. They also had outside games such as horseshoe and volleyball, or inside games such as one that I had never heard of called “Fact or Crap”. This was a ball, and I thank our RWA guides for being as fun as they were. I have to say, I was a little bummed that I was not able to convince a friend to come with me on this trip so I ended up going alone. The reality was that I left with ten new friends ranging from Southern Oregon to Canada and the east coast of the US. It was amazing to be able to be part of their journey, and be able to contribute to the memories made on this trip. I cannot imagine the satisfaction of the guides when they walk away from four days on the river, working and cooking their tails off, yet laughing and having a blast the entire time.
Speaking of a good time, what normally goes along with a good time if you are the guest? Food and wine of course! What makes an even better trip at that? Not having to do any of the preparation or clean up. There is nothing more satisfying than hiking ten miles then coming down the hill towards the river where the “picnic style” lunch awaits you. You cannot miss the white tents with chairs set up for your arrival, and if you do, need not worry. They have walkie-talkies the whole time as the “fastest” hiker at the front of the group, and the “casual” hiker at the tail end. The RWA website states a picnic, but when I pack a lunch for a hike it consists of water, a bar of some sort, a piece of fruit, and a simple sandwich. I kid you not, the fabulous Liz Wan of Serra Vineyards (wine connoisseur on all the Wiking trips) has a spread of over 35 red and white wine pairings to go along with your dinner of the day. Corey, Geoff and Taylor who all work for RWA are guiding you along the way with security and safety, knowledge and experience, and the best attitudes one can have. They bust out their master chef skills and clean up after you, making it so that you hardly have to lift a finger while on the trip. As we pulled up to Foster Bar boat ramp and the trip ended, there was a moment of silence and sadness. Although we had just did our last group “cheers” with a 2011 NV Sparkling Brut from Wooldridge Creek Winery, our group did not want to go home. The last four days were better than any of us could have expected and we have not only Mother Nature to thank, but also the staff at Rogue Wilderness.
If I have not convinced you yet, I am not sure what will, but I can always try…
Hot off the Press
RWA was featured in a number of magazines in 2013. Two to mention are Outside Magazine as ‘great family adventures…’ and Southern Oregon Magazine, where they congratulated them for being voted best rafting outfitter and best fishing guide in southern Oregon by the readers of Southern Oregon Magazine. They swept two categories in their best of southern Oregon survey, 5 years in a row!!!
In 2012, Alaska Airlines selected Rogue Wilderness Adventures for the cover of the monthly in-flight magazine. Additionally, they were the only North American trip featured in AFAR Magazine in 2011. In 2010, the LA Times & Chicago Tribune picked up the news and highlighted their special raft supported hiking trips. Wait—that is not all. USA Today, National Geographic Adventure, Portland Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Journal of the American Homebrewers Association, Sunset Magazine, Northwest Travel Magazine, Travel Oregon and 1859 Oregon’s Magazine have all had a piece on RWA. This company truly is a southern Oregon stud.
They were even listed as one of the “1000 Places to Go Before You Die” in the book written by Patricia Schultz. The credentials can’t end there, as Sunset Magazine will feature them in an upcoming issue written by freelance writer/editor Rachel Levin. If Brad Niva isn’t proud after reading all of these accomplishments I don’t know how else I can convince him. Congrats to you and your hard working staff and back support that make this all possible!!!
Time To Go!
Seriously, why wait? Grab your day planner, Outlook calendar, iPhone, or whatever you use and start planning! 2014 dates are available in May, June, September and October and you can choose from a number of other awesome trips. Rafting (single & multi day whitewater rafting on the Rogue), Rogue region exploration week long trip (including Crater Lake National Trip, the Redwoods, wineries, the coast, and more) Paddles & Pints (yes – beer on the river), lodging or camping trips, a “foodie” trip down the Rogue, raft supported or self-supported trips, fishing trips of all sorts, group or couple trips, "Wishing" trips (yes – wine and fishing), and of course "Wiking"! Make sure to go to our album on Facebook album and view the rest of the photos dedicated to this journey of mine and many others!