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While at Mule Creek (Rogue River Ranch) on a layover camp (8/8/98), we hiked down to Blossom Bar to "watch the carnage". We sat on the big rock on river right with our lunch and cameras in hand. After watching a dozen textbook runs, all making the eddy above 'Picket Fence', it almost became monotonous... that is until "Bubba from Grants Pass" attempted the run with no respect for what this rapid can do.
A little background on 'Bubba'.... He and his hapless, naive passenger pulled into Mule Creek the day before with a busted frame and a boat full of empty beer cans. They were running solo. Bubba was brash about his experience on the Rogue, but "No", this was his first run on the W&S permit section. Conversation revealed little other river reading experience, either.
Bubba did have enough sense to stop and scout, tho. We explained what he needed to do and he seemed confident. However, Bubba did not understand the river dynamics at BB nor did he appreciate the hydraulic forces existing at the 'Picket Fence'. We watched, helpless to do anything but record the carnage as Bubba drifted straight into the Picket Fence like a William Nealy cartoon. For all we knew, his raft would remain there until higher or lower levels dislodged it.
You can't see it in the pix, but Bubba was puffing on a cigarette right up to the point that he was standing on the rock, surveying the damage. One more thing... if you take a close look at frame #6, you'll notice Bubba (red pfd) hovering over a rifle bag which contained a rifle "to scare off bears" (No kidding!). Bubba and his partner eventually jumped off the PF rock (Read the followup story below to see exactly how he jumped!). Bubba stuck the oar in a crevice and left it behind as his dubious legacy. Last we saw of him was on a westbound jetboat passing BB Lodge.
Some followup information I received from another group on the river that week...
Our group was on the river at the same time you were. As a matter of fact we probably talked to you at Blossom Bar.
Our group had been following Bubba down the river since Graves Creek. We had named him "Orange Boy" because of his orange swim trunks, orange vest and orange boat.
When we arrived at Rainey Falls people on the bank were still talking about the idiot who had just gone over the main section of the falls. Apparently he had not stopped to scout and did not know the falls were there. By the time he realized what was in front of him he could not back-paddle out of the current, although witnesses said they had never seen oars work in reverse as fast as his, and he went over the falls sideways. Our group went down the center chute, did some celebrating at the bottom and then got back on the river. At the first sandy beach below the falls we met Orange Boy for the first time. He and his friend had all their gear spread out on rocks drying. In between beers and boasts he shared with us his skill at challenging Rainey Falls and beating it.
I will try to keep this short of a novel but we also saw Orange Boy at the following places:
Our group went through Blossom Bar right after Orange Boy. As one of our rafts went through he jumped from the rock into raft, uninvited. We united him with his friend just below the bar and helped them gather their gear and get loaded onto the jet boat.
As it turns out his friend was a very nice guy and only guilty by association. He had finished a day trip down to Graves Creek Landing and was waiting on his ride when this guy (Orange Boy) came up and said I have a permit, provisions for 3 people for 4 days and my friends have not shown up. Orange Boy offered the other guy a free trip. The friend is a student at the U of O and had time so he accepted. When we talked to him at the bottom of Blossom Bar he said it had been a trip he would never forget and from that perspective he was glad he did it.
The last we saw of Orange Boy he was telling the jet boat owner that his car was in the town of Alice (I suppose he meant Agness [or Galice]) and that he was going to go get his drift boat and come back to get his raft.
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Last updated April 14, 1999