Blossom bar rapid, on the Rogue river is considered the pinnacle rapid on the wild and scenic section. It has a nasty reputation for creating carnage and sometimes death.
It isn’t a terribly difficult rapid, there’s just a couple moves you have to make to avoid rapping on the picket fence. If you know the route and can make the moves you’re golden.
I first rowed Blossom when I was 16. I’d been through it many times with my dad at the oars and he taught me the route. I always row it the way he showed me, and it has always worked out well (knock on wood).
The key was and still is, to get into the first eddy with time to set up for the slot. Once you’re in the slot, you’re past the picket fence which is where the shit can hit the fan. From there it’s just a matter of picking your way through the rest of the boulder field.
I’ve done a Rogue trip every year at least once since I was 14, and I’ve seen Blossom bar rapid change. Rivers are constantly in flux as high water moves rocks or shifts sand, and Blossom is no exception. I’m not sure if it’s easier or harder, but it’s definitely not the same.
The eddy you pull into at the top is smaller, the water moving through it is faster, and the slot above the picket fence is much tighter. The thing that hasn’t changed is the amount of carnage it creates every summer.
The last trip I did, was the 2nd weekend of October. For some reason the river was packed. As one of my drift boat guide friends said, “there sure is a lot of rubber out here.”
The river was low, around 1200 CFS and I was thinking there would be a lot of carnage at Blossom, particularly in light of how many inexperienced oarsmen I was encountering. So our plan was to get through Blossom as early as possible and avoid the traffic jam that seemed inevitable.
It worked out for us, we got there between groups, but the carnage was there nonetheless. It had preceded us. The picket fence looked like a junk yard. It was plastered with shredded rafts, and bent, broken raft frames.
The frames were sticking into the slot, making it even narrower. The frames were broken and bent creating lethal spikes everywhere; waiting to skewer unsuspecting rubber.
Our group of experienced boaters made it through no problem, but it was tight. As I drifted by the various raft wrecks, there was gear floating everywhere in the eddies. Ropes fluttered just beneath the surface, waiting to wrap around unlucky swimmers’ ankles. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
At camp that evening, the masses of raft groups drifted by us one by one. We watched and tried to notice if any boats were missing, but it seemed everyone had made it through.
It always amazes me that there isn’t more carnage. There was one group we were particularly afraid for. They could hardly make it down any of the easier rapids without careening off rocks. I have no idea how they all made it through Blossom, but they did. I guess it goes to show the river can be forgiving.
Although i’m sure the people that owned all that rubber and metal still lodged in the picket fence would disagree.