Despite low flows, the MF Smith Oregon Hole Gorge and the SF Smith gorge were “good to go kind of.” One portage on the South Fork, but other than that we successfully slammed into rocks and scraped our way downstream.
Erik and David met me at the Rogue River Journeys house in Selma around at 7:00 A.M. By 9:00 we were staring at the Smith River and getting ready to run shuttle for the Oregon Hole Gorge stretch. This stretch of water is pretty short, two miles at the most, but the river runs through a fun narrow canyon. At this flow it was pretty mellow and stayed uneventful. It was still fast with a few large holes but for the most part everything was easy to avoid. Erik and David were R2ing a 12′ NRS Otter while I was rowing my 14′ Avon.
After reaching the take-out we decided to give the Lower South Fork Gorge a shot. I’d been down this once before but at about half the flow. Turns out at the flow on this day was way more mellow. A lot of the steep drops were washed out. There were some big stomping holes but, like Oregon Hole, they were fairly easy to avoid. The only bummer about the South Fork is the take-out. It’s straight up a hill and is pretty tiresome, especially with an oar boat. But the three of us muscled the boats up and after catching our breath decided to give it another go.
On our second run through I wanted to stop to take some photos. The very first significant rapid seemed like a good choice as I could get a nice angle looking down into the rapid. There was a huge hole on the left and a very large lateral wave in the center. It looked like there was a tight line in between the two. Erik and David ran through, missed the big hole on the right but ended up going into the lateral and dumptrucking. Figures that I had the camera out to catch the only carnage of the day.
Overall a splendid day on the water. The Smiths really do have a beautiful color to them, and when the sun is out they are hard to beat!