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Rainie Falls Trail on the Rogue River - Josephine County, Oregon
Today we hike to Rainie Falls on the wild and scenic Rogue River.
The river is down now, which makes it easier to see the rocks and the river's voice is much more resonant than when it is rushing full. It does make it more difficult for the rafters, however.
The trail across the river is the one we hiked a few weeks ago, which we took to the Whisky Creek Cabin.
The Rainie Falls Trail is a lot rockier. It seems like we are walking over one lava bed after another, and it is exceptionally sharp, and in ordinary hiking shoes, you can certainly feel it.
It is a cold Fall day, and the trail remained in the shadows for the entire trip to Rainie Falls and back. Contrary to the hike we took to Whisky Creek, where we spent the entire day in the bright sun, and temperatures in the mid 90's. These canyons are so steep that some of them are never touched by the sun.
This is Grave Creek Rapids, which is down river about a quarter of a mile from where Grave Creek enters the majestic Rogue River.
Looking across the river, you can see signs of the Sanderson home site. This area has been devastated over the years since by many floods, one of which in 1964 when the Rogue River was 50 feet higher than its' normal level. It is a wonder there are any signs left of the Sanderson homestead. They mined this area on both sides of the Rogue River, and many traces of their occupancy are still in existence.
The river is tranquil now, and it makes one wonder how much gold has since washed into these pockets?
This is the main raft channel around the large island in the middle of the Rogue River. The other side can be navigated, but only by the adventurous!
The river becomes more constricted from here on down, making it deeper and more violent.
The view on the top is the other channel around the large island on the right.
Looking across the way, we are reminded of how steep the other trail is, and how high the peaks are above us at all times.
You can still see the remainder of one of the Sanderson Bridge footings that spanned this canyon.
This is the main support column on the south side of the Rogue River.
The Sanderson Bridge was built in 1907 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. We have seen old photos of the CCC boys, and the marvelous work they did throughout the United States. The United States Army was the supervisory authority, and the grand celebration that was held at the opening of this bridge was truly amazing! There were women in beautiful dresses, and men in suits and ties -- and this is over a mile down the Rogue River on a mule trail! And a rough one at that! The bridge was built to enable the miners' to cross over the river, and it was built as a suspension bridge with very sturdy planks on the bottom, and a wire and rope network along the sides. The only ones to use this bridge were men and mules, as no wagons or carts, could navigate the trails on either side. These trails are still so narrow that it makes you wonder how many men and mules may have slipped off over the years?
The Sanderson Bridge was washed out by a flood in 1927, and of course with the winding down of the practicality of gold mining, due to the prices and government controls at that time, it was not in the cards to rebuild.
Take a look at where these footings are -- can you imagine a flood reaching this high to destroy a bridge? They don't call it the wild Rogue River for no reason!
Another view of where the river splits around the large white island in the center of the photo. The sensible rafters come around the passage on the right.
Another view across the river.
Our path takes us higher above the river, and we are a scant few feet from the cliff most of the time. You can see how deep the river is below us, and this is the low-water level time of year.
We take a moment to relax from our rapid hike.
There are many streams like this coming from high above that are quite easy to navigate this time of year.
We arrive at our destination. This is the beginning of Rainie Falls.
The range of sounds made by the splitting of the Rogue River into a collage of individual waterfalls meld into a roaring symphony that blocks out all other sounds.
I don't know how many rafters choose to go down this way, but it is my understanding that the majority portage around to the far side of Rainie Falls.
It was so beautiful here that we snapped a quick video, which does not do justice to the experience. Keep an eye out for the fish jumping.
On the way back we view the footing for the Sanderson Bridge from a different angle.
Here is another shot of the trail we took on our last trip up the other side. The point across the way is about two miles upriver from the Whisky Creek Cabin, which is on the National Register of Historic Sites. Further down to the left of here, about twenty miles downriver, is where Zane Grey had his cabin. It is said that he wrote the book "Rogue River Feud" in 1929 while living at the cabin. He supposedly had a private landing strip, which enabled him to reach his secluded retreat without having to come downriver, which at that time was exceptionally dangerous as the equipment was not anywhere near as sophisticated as it is now. Also, I am not certain, but I believe that several places along the river were dynamited over the years to make for safer passage. According to Zane Grey's grandson, some of the happiest times Zane Grey ever spent were on the Rogue River.
Having looked across the river at the steep cliffs, I suddenly was reminded that we were walking on the same type of narrow trail, and it is just as steep on this side!
This boulder has defied time and gravity up to this point. The heavy rains in winter and spring create a massive flow of water in, under, around and over this boulder.
I'm certain that it is only a matter of time until nature decides to move this massive stone monolith to the site below.
Someday the rock will sit down there!
Everywhere we go, the views are incredible, and the colors magnificent.
Back at Grave Creek Rapids.
We arrive back to our starting point, and on the upriver side of the Grave Creek Bridge you can see a rather submissive Grave Creek entering the Rogue River. This is probably the only time of year where you will see Grave Creek where it actually looks like a creek instead of a raging river.
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