On Thursday, Monica and I were shuttled from Galice up to the Marial Lodge, located in the middle of the Rogue River Trail, a 41 mile stretch that winds from Grave Creek to Illahe. Most of the trail meanders through the wild and scenic area of the Rogue River that is only accessible via boat or this hiking trail. We had wanted to do the entire trail, but we were unable (or rather the owner of Black Bar Lodge was unwilling to accommodate us because it “wasn’t worth turning on the generator.”) Since we were unprepared to hike the first 20 miles in one day, we opted to take a shuttle into Marial Lodge and spend our first night.
Pat and Lori, owners of Marial Lodge were very friendly and hospitable. We met a group of rafters from the Bay area who had been running the Rogue annually for 25 years. It rained most of the night. The lodge is very old and rough. Nothing very fancy at all, but we had good food and a warm place to hang out with friendly people. In the middle of the night we heard something scurrying around. Monica was convinced there was a mouse in the room, but I actually think it was confined to the inside of the wall.
Friday, we headed out after a big breakfast. We thought it would rain all day, but we had periods of sun. We ate lunch along Blossom Bar and watched our new friends raft and kayak through the rapids. We made pretty good time and arrived at Paradise Lodge around 1:30, just as the rain was really starting to come down. The rafters arrived before us and were hanging out in the Lodge waiting for their rooms to get ready.
We checked into our room back in the “garden house.” It was a beautiful, cozy cedar room. No mice here. We took a nap as the rain fell outside and then headed over for dinner in the main lodge. We accidentally drank someone’s private wine. (oops. Don’t leave your wine lying around if you don’t want to share…) There were two other groups of rafters who joined us for dinner. One couple was celebrating an anniversary so most of their group was up partying until late into the night. Monica played some kind of scrabble game with the Bay area group who we were sure were making up words. Yes, VOMICA is a word, but you don’t want to know what it is.
One of the guys worked at Trader Joes and brought along a “bag ‘o wine,” which I thought looked like the foley bag of a post-op prostatectomy.
After another hearty breakfast at Paradise, Monica and I headed out into the rain. We said goodbye to our new friends who were going on to the end of the line and wouldn’t be meeting us at Clay Hill Lodge. Again, the rain let up a bit and we spied the rafters from the cliffs. The nice thing about it being cool and wet was the rattlesnakes were still in hiding. Monica was worried that I would whine about the cold and rain, but I told her I wouldn’t complain because the cold weather was not conducive to the reptiles scaring the hell out of me.
Not a reptile.
Again, we made pretty good time and arrived at Clay Hill Lodge in the rain. The setting was beautiful. That’s about the only good thing I can say about this lodge. Monica had to go and hunt the owner down because there was no sign, no indication of life when we arrived. When she found him, he was casually hanging out, smoking on his porch. Meanwhile, I found an unlocked door and helped myself to the bathroom. When Monica dragged the guy from his stoop and asked him, kindly, to show us our room that we had reserved for a ridiculous amount of money, he NEVER. SHUT. HIS. MOUTH. And this was the theme. We were told that another group of four hikers would be joining us and we hoped to god they would arrive sooner than later so we would have someone else to interact with besides this goon. Then his 8 year old son arrived on the seen and we discovered that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Monica and I just wanted to relax, enjoy the silence and read, but that was impossible with Mr. Know-it-All yammering on and on.
Our room was freezing and we asked for more blankets which would never have materialized had it not been for Mel, the goon’s assistant who pretty much did all the work. We concluded that he had to be on heavy medication to work for this family.
Finally, the other four hikers showed up, two couples from Portland who had been to Clay Hill in the past. The fact that they came back was a shock to me.
Dinner was interesting. We had such good meals at the previous lodges that this was a huge disappointment. They served fish, which might be all right if one was a fish fan, but I am not. It was marlin. I had never had marlin before and I tried to cut it with my fork, as I am used to fish being easily cut flaked apart. Not this rubbery mess. I could barely cut it with the provided steak knife. The MOUTH bragged about how his wife caught it in Mexico over spring break. I was unimpressed. The rest of the meal was equally bland: white rice and uncooked string beans. Not only was the food disappointing, we had to listen to the MOUTH all through dinner as well. Apparently, this guy thinks that all the guests come to visit HIM.
After dinner we chatted with them as much as we could, but the MOUTH was so loud and intrusive that it was impossible for me to focus on anything. I finally went to my cold room and read until I fell asleep. It poured down rain all night. I could hear one of the other people snoring through the paper thin walls.
Monica and I pretty much headed out right after breakfast. We grabbed our lunch that they packed for us and hit the trail for our last leg. We could only see the river for about 1.5 miles of the hike until the trail disappeared into the woods for most of the day. We stopped and ate our lunch. “What do you think is in the wrap?” Monica asked.
“Left over cold marlin,” I said. I opened up the sandwich, but didn’t find marlin. What I did find was some nasty brown tuna. “I knew that bastard would slip fish into my lunch somehow.”
The last couple miles of the trail were sloppy mud which slowed our pace down a little. We reached the end of the trail and ended up in a field. We were told that we’d end up in a meadow right before the parking lot at Illahe where our car would be waiting.
|Not a parking lot in sight|
I followed Monica over a muddy road, deeper into this meadow. I tried to find human footprints so I could see where the previous hikers went but all I saw was this:
I thought “why would there be no signs for the trail after the trail has been so well marked until now?”