It had been way too many years since I was on the Grande Ronde (2013 was the last trip), so I was pretty excited to make the trek across the state to get on the river. The Grande Ronde may just be the prettiest float trip in the state, but that probably depends on what you are looking for. The long drive and short flow window have limited trips to an every few years kinda affair. But here we were, after a half day trek to Minam the day before, ready to launch. As is my usual experience at the launch, it’s the big scene playing out. People who must, from all appearances, only rarely do this kinda thing. You’ve seen them, they have gear spread hither and yon, taking up every available slot in the launch, no apparent direction, you could watch them and wonder if they are taking out or putting in they are making so little forward progress. And here I was thinking it was called a boat launch because, what, you launch your boat there….oh, no, that is the place to make meal decisions, load the cooler and decide what goes in which dry bag, and yes, take a break at the nearest table and eat your full breakfast! Yes, you wouldn’t expect us to eat breakfast before splaying our stuff out all over the ramp would you? How would we ever find something to eat until we unloaded everything? So we pushed the trailer and boat through the willows and…yep, launched and loaded the boat. OK, enough of the crowd, deep breath….
And we’re off, away from it all, just like that.
The weather the first day is better than expected, and the river is still up with the spring and now summer snow melt, so we move right along. From past experience fishing is better at a bit lower flow, and that proves true today, but mainly it’s just nice to be on the water watching the world go by. It doesn’t take long to find ourselves looking for a camp. A few are occupied but after a relatively quick 19 miles we find a nice one and settle in for the night. We’re able to get most of the camp deployed before the rain starts up. It’s always nice to have a nice taut kitchen tarp.
Next day we’re up and moving before too much daylight passes. We had a test of rain for the new tent and it failed miserably. Back to REI it goes, and no more REI brand tents will be seen in my future, back to the Marmot that I know actually repels rain. You would think a company based in Seattle could make a tent that would shed a bit of rain, but think again. We launched just in time for the rain to really start in earnest. It was actually a beautiful morning.
Fishing didn’t exactly pick up, but a few really nice ones did show themselves. When you have to pull the boat over to land the fish you know you have a nice one.
We went far enough the first day so the second day was pretty short, and bonus, the rain ran its course and sun greeted us at our second camp.
Boccie ball and some dutch oven cooking ensued.
The next day dawned sunny. Time to pack and finish the last miles of the trip. It’s always good to end a trip on a sunny morning, you can pack dry gear and skip a couple of steps when you get home. And boy is it a drive home. I already can’t wait to get back to the chaos of the next launch. Until next time…