Rogue Life

Katherine Luscher – Rogue River Journeys

Katherine Luscher is a guide for Rogue River Journeys. When she’s not running rivers, she spends her time protecting them with her work at the Waterkeeper Alliance. She’s been exploring the Rogue River canyon for 15 years and lives in Portland, Oregon.

The Interview

What is your connection to the Rogue River?

Rafting guide with Rogue River Journeys and I’m a recreational boater.

What do you do in the off-season?

I spend my off-river time working to protect and restore waterways across the globe. I started my career with River Network, and now work for Waterkeeper Alliance.

How long have you been working or recreating on the Rogue?

I’ve been spending time on the Rogue for the past 15 years.

What are your favorite qualities of the Rogue River?

The solitude. The diversity of wildlife. The 50 shades of green. The night skies. The rapids and swimming holes. The human history. The subtle changes as the seasons progress. Really – I love it all.

Favorite spot on the Rogue?

Taking a raft through Mule Creek Canyon is one my favorite things to share with guests. But, I really love finding time to quietly explore the side canyons: East Creek; Big Windy; Dulog; Mule Creek beyond the ‘swimming hole.’

Can you describe the community of people who visit or work on the Rogue?

Yes – it’s definitely an amazing, friendly community. I think most people who boat know that we’re all in-between wraps, and swims, and popping an oar; that we all – regardless of our experience – have the potential to be the one that forgets the coffee, the TP, the cooking oil. People look out for each other, and we help each other when we can.

Has the Rogue River changed you? How has it shaped your life?

Forget kindergarten – all I really need to know, I’ve learned from the river. The Rogue is a great teacher. She’s taught me to go with the flow; to appreciate every moment – even if that moment is rowing through Battle Bar Flats in the wind…with a boatload of kids who really enjoy swimming.

Spending time on the Rogue helps me keep the rest of my life’s priorities in-check. I’m living out of a bag (okay, and a cooler), and I’m happy. It sounds cliche, but the river reminds us that it’s not the stuff in our life that adds value to our lives – it’s the experiences and the people with whom you share them. The Rogue has given me amazing memories – not to mention a wonderful community of friends.

What is the personality of the Rogue River?

She’s welcoming, yet feisty; calm, yet diverse. She forces you to unplug, and yet makes sure you remain present. She demands respect, but is also forgiving.

People always ask me if I get tired of rafting the Rogue. But, the truth is: every trip is different. I’ve been down the river in the blazing sun of summer, the snow of late fall, and during the fire of 2013. [And then, there was that one time with the wind.] I’ve had a skunk run across my pillow, a black bear stand on my cooler, and a rattlesnake swim up through the drain-hole of a raft. I’ve had guests who started the trip terrified of the water – and ended the trip by paddling an inflatable kayak. I’ve taken my 83-year old dad, and I’ve taken kids as young as 5. There may be other rivers with bigger rapids; other rivers with higher canyon walls; other rivers far more remote – but there is just not another river like the Rogue. It really is a magical place, and I love sharing it with friends, family, and guests.