Trip Report: McKenzie River - Jan 19, 2019 - 3300 cfs

A Brown Ribbon Trip? Tales of the McKenzie

Submitted by Michele Gila

It was MLK Jr. Day weekend 2019 and all of the western Cascades rivers were pumping. Mary was enjoying her last blast of unemployment freedom and set her sights on a sweet cabin on the side of the McKenzie River. (Side note: this is a great cabin with occupancy of 6-ish. A little tricky with trailers, but we figured it out.). We loaded up the van headed south. Every great rafting weekend begins with a delicious meal, which sets the tone for more delicious meals. And did we ever dine! The whole group decided to eat vegan that weekend, which was a dream come true for Mark & I. Dinner night one: Mary's cauliflower curry soup with fresh baguette and the infamous romanesco sauce that I brought. Throw in beer & wine and you get the picture. We slept like rocks.

Saturday morning our goal was to leave the cabin by 10am, after a delicious Everything Imaginable for Oatmeal and Miso and hot dark coffee. Matt & Heather laid out quite a spread! Oats, nuts & seeds, dried fruit, miso, rice and some of my fresh fermented kimchi. We then cruised up to Olallie, where we met up with the Eugene whitewater crew. I had sent Chad a message earlier in the week when we knew our plan had manifested, and he put together a nice crew of Eugenians. Chad, Craig, Sean and I think 7 others were already unloaded and our group was quick to unload. Tom led the whole group in a safety talk and pretty soon we were on the water, enjoying one of the best days I've ever had on the McKenzie. Saturday's peak was about 3300cfs and nearly all of the rocks were buried deep enough to make some outstanding holes and waves. Non-stop action all the way to Paradise. I believe we had 3 rafts, 3 paddle rafts, 1 kayak, and 3 cats total. Other than one paddle crew missing the take out by a bit, there were no incidents and tons of smiles. After the usual take out chit chat, we hugged and parted ways, and our mighty crew of 7 headed back to our cozy cabin on the side of the river.

Dinner was just as delicious as the night before. This time we started with chips and all kinds of hot sauces and cilantro dip. The cilantro dip was so tasty we included it in this newsletter, so go look for that Recipe of the Month. Egrane cooked up a pot of black beans and rice, and I supplied the mess o' greens. And the Mezcal. Later Sean and his wife Norma returned to the cabin for a warm fire and lively conversation, as they live just down the road in Walterville. It was nice to spend more time getting to know them.  Another night in front of the fire, by the side of the river and everyone was well rested by morning.

Heather & Matt back on breakfast crew, laid out their Right On spread again, and since we had so much fun launching at Olallie, we decided to do that run again, but this time extend the trip a bit further to McKenzie Bridge campground. We were on our own today though, but had just as much fun playing around and enjoying the magic that is the McKenzie River. Another perfect day of whitewater. Endless whitewater. But today after the run, we waved farewell to Matt & Heather, as they headed back to take care of life in Portland. Lucky for us, they swapped with Bill, who had spent the weekend with his daughter at the beach.

So it was back to the cabin to clean up, warm up and enjoy some Minestrone with all the fixings. **But time out. Not only did we have to refuel the vehicles, but rumor has it a stop was made for some pepperoni sticks. That was not confirmed, nor denied.** Back at the cabin, Mary was of course happy to have Bill with us and we amused each other with more river stories and dreams of future river trips. Monday was a holiday, so it was a slow pack up. But wait! Our breakfast crew was gone. Lucky for us, we had so much leftovers that we all enjoyed that hot coffee, soup & more. I'd say it was better than a Brown Ribbon Weekend!