With the prime rafting season in the rearview mirror, the crew at Indigo Creek Outfitters took a few minutes to jot down some favorite moments and memories of the 2013 season. Thank you to everyone who has joined us thus far in 2013. We still have trips going out and some great new adventures planned for the road ahead. We’ll be operating our day trips until October 15th, so there’s still time to make more memories and reconnect with friends on an incredible river in the Southern Oregon outdoors.

Waterlogged Memories, written by Emily Berlant

The river season for Indigo Creek Outfitters started out appropriately on the river and even more specifically, close to the namesake of ICO. The actual “Indigo Creek” flows into the Illinois River deep within the Kalmiopsis Wilderness of Southwestern Oregon. The crew and a group of hand-picked friends and boaters gathered in Selma, OR the night before put-in where introductions were made and equipment was organized. Two days and one night on the Illinois River allowed several people, including members of our staff, to experience a new river with new friends.

Selma, Oregon

Selma, Oregon

Put in at Illinois River

Put in at Illinois River

Waterlogged Memory: Emily Berlant
“There I was, sitting in the front of my first paddle boat on a river I’d never rafted with two fellow Indigo Creekers (Glen and Torrey), both of whom I’d met just the day before. We’re entering a small class II rapid on the Illinois River with a noticeable rock protruding just right of center and we’re headed right for it. No commands are being called, my paddle is sitting idly. And then we’re upside down. What in the heck?! The shock of the cold water knocks my breath away. I’m spinning around underneath the upside down raft, feeling the water sloshing around me. Half glad to be having this peaceful experience underneath the raft and half perturbed to be underneath the raft in the first place, the water calms and I hear “where’s Emily?! If we lose her on her first trip her dad’s going to kill me!” I slide my way out from under the raft and am almost immediately hoisted into Will’s raft who has a concerned but stoked grin on his face. “Welcome to Indigo Creek!”

The commercial season began with two large groups of students from Southern Oregon University – one group from the Hawaii Club and another from the International Students Association.

Waterlogged Memory: Rob Ginsbach
International Students at Nugget “Students are some of the most fun to take down the river because they are so enthusiastic about getting outside. We take middle schoolers, high school groups, and even local college groups – the river is a great place, no matter your age, to build friendships and learn about your outdoor abilities. Students are out to have a memorable, no holds barred, fabulous good time. They love the waves, the drops and, of course, the photos of their smiling faces crashing through Nugget Falls.”

When the sun comes out, the phone rings. Throughout the heat of the summer we visited the river steadily and enjoyed sharing the Rogue and Klamath Rivers with more adventurers than we had in any prior season. Whether it was husband-wife pairs, mother-son trips, family reunions, wedding parties, international tourists, birthday parties, or “Grannies 70th Birthday Treat” – we loved every minute of it.

Customer Review on TripAdvisor
A River For All Ages“We had a very memorable time yesterday afternoon rafting on the Rogue River with Indigo Creek Outfitters. We were a mixed group of senior citizens and grandchildren aged, 8, 10 and 17. The photos prove just how much fun we had. Our guide was great fun. The weather was perfect. It was a safe but exciting ride as the rapids at the end were especially challenging. Everyone left the river with great stories to relive. The photos were worth the price; a great memento of a fun experience.”

July might have been the hottest month we spent on the river this summer. We had two straight weeks of temperatures over 95 and we took hundreds of folks out on the river.


Waterlogged Memory: T.J. Vandehey
“The 4th of July was a hot, hot day and the families on the river with us were fully engaged in a water war fueled by squirt guns, paddles, cannonballs and war cries. We had just finished surfing at Leyman’s on the Rogue River and had entered a calm pool – the perfect place to get a little rowdy. Out of the blue, a young girl in my boat, maybe 9 years-old, came jumping into the back of the boat and gave me an unexpected nudge. I toppled into the river and rose to the surface with a big grin on my face. Surprised? Yes. Unbelievably hilarious? Yes. Now I know: in the midst of a water fight, no one is safe… not even the guide.”[/box]

For our steadfast leader, Will Volpert, the Batman to our Robins, his summer might have felt incomplete without the addition of the Upper Klamath to ICO’s repertoire.

Waterlogged Memory: Will Volpert
“On June 10th, Indigo Creek Outfitters ran its very first commercial rafting trip on the Upper Klamath. Our good friend Brian Chaffin was the group organizer and was able to convince 10 other researchers (almost all of them were graduate students studying global water issues – dams, dam removal, hydrology, etc.) to join him for a first time run down the Klamath. It was a great way for us to kick off our Upper Klamath season. Brian and I have boated together for the past 13 years and my highlight of the 2013 season has to be showing an old boating buddy a new river to enjoy.”[/box]

Smoky Ashland - View from ICO Rafting Center's RoofAugust is generally the peak of the heat and of the business for the summer. Unfortunately, this year, Southern Oregon experienced an onslaught of forest fires that did more damage to the local economy than the forests themselves.

For a solid three weeks, tourists were cancelling and rerouting their vacations, locals were locking their families indoors and running errands with masks. According to the National Weather Service, out of the 31 days in August, smoke was reported on 22 of those days. Amazingly, although too smoky to see a mile away in Ashland, just over Greensprings Mountain, the Upper Klamath was relatively clear. We were able to reroute much of our business to the UK where customers have said that “They really made it an adventure! You can tell when people love what they do…and these guys truly love their jobs!”

Here at Indigo Creek Outfitters, we do love our job. Bill Gates couldn’t buy an office view better than ours: from the stern of a 14’ Vanguard overlooking a Southern Oregon river.

Osprey Above NuggetFirst year guide Torrey had an opportunity to show off his office to his family and boy were they envious! He gave them a personal tour of the Nugget/Powerhouse stretch, including osprey sightings for no extra cost.

Thunderstorms provided a breath of fresh, cool air, and cleared smoke out of the valley. On one of these days, Glen headed up to the Upper Klamath for a personal trip with just four people. It was a beautiful sunny morning and they had the whole river to themselves.

Waterlogged Memory: Glen Finch
“After lunch, just in time for Hell’s Corner, the sky darkened except for flashes of lighting and the rumbling of thunder. An already intimidating rapid, Hells Corner showed its teeth as we were serenaded by thunder above us. Welcoming us to the takeout were the first clunks of hail. Definitely a memorable Upper Klamath trip.”[/box]

Our trips are more than just rafting trips. Rafting trips are a social event that bring people together from all over the world. We would not be working in these beautiful places if it weren’t for all of you that join us on trips, so we thank you for climbing aboard. Thank you for your smiles, your laughter, and your support. As we wrap up the end of our third season, after peering back at what we’ve been through upstream, we turn our sights downstream for what lies ahead. We look forward to splashing with you next summer.


Emily BerlantMeet the Author: Emily Berlant
Emily is from Grants Pass, Oregon and grew up in a rafting family. She started working for Indigo Creek Outfitters in the Spring of 2013. When she’s not at the Indigo Creek office or out on the river, she can be found canvassing for the Blue Sky Program of Pacific Power or working on photography. Emily has been boating most of her life and truly understands what it takes to run great river trips.