Aaron Stone – Grand Junction, Colorado
Aaron Stone first floated the Rogue River in 1976. Since then, he’s worked on the Rogue as a professional guide and been involved in the whitewater manufacturing industry with his work at SOTAR and Sawyer Paddles and Oars. Back in the day, he was the Chairperson for the Nugget Whitewater Rodeo in the middle to late 90’s and now he helps out with the Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival which is in May every year.
What is your connection to the Rogue River?
My connection to the Rogue River started around 1976 when my parents took me on my very first Wild & Scenic Rogue trip, and from that trip I felt a deep connection to the Rogue River, as well being on and around rivers. In 1982 I discovered the world of getting paid to guide people down the river with Smith River Adventures and my mentor Willie Joe Smith. This took me to such companies as Noah’s and The Adventure Center to name a few, on rivers such as the Rogue, Upper & Lower Klamath, Smith, North Umpqua, Illinois, Cal-Salmon & Scott. There are a lot more rivers & creeks I have found my way down via kayaking.
How long have you been floating the Rogue?
Recreating since 1976 and guiding since 1982, which is starting to make me feel kinda old! However, not old…..just very experienced!
What are your favorite qualities of the Rogue?
Before moving to Colorado, it was location location location! What’s not nice about doing afternoon laps on a Nugget/Powerhouse run or knowing that Grave Creek is an hour away? It was nice knowing that it was always there and seemingly unchanged from when I first gazed at the Rogue many many years ago.
Favorite place on the Rogue?
Wow…..all of them! But if I had to pick one place that is always special it is the Grave Creek launch. When I am there I know that I am beginning another Wild & Scenic trip that will allow me to forget almost anything for 2-4 days.
Is there a sense of community on the Rogue River?
Of course there is a feeling of community! I have to believe that every person who has been on the Rogue River from Crater Lake to Gold Beach understands what a special river system it is and all that it offers.
Has the Rogue River changed you?
Definitely changed me. Had I not had my first experience on the Wild & Scenic in 1976, not sure that I would be who I am today….seriously. It was that amazement that I had back then that inspired me to continue boating and be involved with Guiding trips, kayaking, being involved with events/races, working for outdoor industry companies, and most importantly….gave me the friends that I have today who are very like minded.
Does the Rogue have a personality?
To me, the Rogue River has so many different characters and personality traits. From Old Growth forest near Crater Lake to meandering floats to the always fun Wild & Scenic section. This river has something for everyone!
One of my most memorable experiences on the Rogue River was in the Spring of 1994, when a group of us decided to do a flood stage float through the Wild & Scenic section. From what I recall, we launched from Galice around 9am and arrived at Foster Bar before 2pm if I recall correctly. I went on the trip thinking how “easy” it would be since everything would be under water and filled in…..not so! While some of the rapids filled in, it was a scorcher in terms of speed and nerve wracking floating with trees. Mule Creek was crested which created converging eddylines and some of the scariest hydraulics I had seen to date, and Blossom Bar while not having any rocks, was a pretty serious rapid. So last year when Will Volpert invited me to replicate the trip, it was one of those times when I could say, “been there, done that!” and kindly give beta on what to expect.
Any last words?
If you have not been on the Rogue you probably don’t understand how a lot of us feel and perhaps don’t get the connection to this wonderful river. Take some time and float the river and you will understand how special this river truly is.
On my bucket list is to hike the Rogue River trail, but somehow I know that from the trail I will be looking at the water and longing to be on it……