As I crossed over the Santiam Pass I noticed it. Red and yellow leaves in every direction. It’s fall, my favorite time of year. Not only does the temperature moderate from the triple digits of summer, you get that crisp feeling in the air and most of all fire season tends to moderate and the opportunity might present itself to unplug for a few days. There is no better way to unplug in my book than to float down a river. First up this fall, the Klamath in northern California.
The Klamath flows through some pretty remote country. I’ll concede the fact that a state highway runs beside it for a good portion of its length. That said, you probably have more people drive down your quiet (?) neighborhood road then you’ll see in a day driving along the Klamath. And oh, the river traffic! In three full days of floating we didn’t see a single boat other than the one we were in. It makes me wonder how the Klamath’s cousin to the north, the Rogue gets away with the ‘wilderness’ designation when you are always in the view of others and constantly on the run for the next campsite, assuming you are able to get a permit.
We left Oregon at the dark hour of 4 and were in the river at Portuguese Creek by 11. With a little bit of shuttle logistics we were floating just after noon. Before we knew it we were through our first class 3, Savage Rapids.
Finally, underway! I had been looking forward to these days since we put them on the calendar in the spring. Perfect weather stayed with us the entire trip with days in the 80’s and 90’s and nights in the 40’s. Fishing was a little….lacking. Last time we were here we were catching early return steelhead called half pounders (they are plenty bigger than a half pound) left and right. There were virtually none to be had this trip. Such is the timing of anadromous fish. Every thing else along the way besides the fishing was perfect. Our first camp, Grapevine is right up there at the top of the list of river camps. Sandy, quiet, and a great view of the big salmon and steelhead as they swam and jumped on the way by. The salmon seemed to be doing backflips every time they came through another riffle or rapid.
Day two brought more serene stretches of water. One salmon was hooked and lost, the big fish of the trip, along with lots of great view of the unique forests of the Klamath.
Wow, days pass quick. Before you know it you are in your last river camp of the trip. We didn’t see any bear, just lots of ‘sign’ but we did see a few unique birds along with tons of frogs, turtles and an otter chowing down on some fish across from camp #2.
Is it already the last day on the river? Yep, three days pass quick. We had another great day passing through several class 3’s punctuated by scenic pools. We spent the night at the takeout at Ferry Point. The question I kept asking myself is will it be another 8 years until I come back here?
I think the answer is a resounding NO!