Road Trip > John Day River > Bliss
by Rainbow Bobbins
Secluded sanctuary. The elements came together for another amazing trip to the John Day River over 4th of July weekend. It was hot, the river was flowing and we were practically alone on the water. We camped at Bear Hollow near Fossil, OR on Saturday and woke early to pack up the raft and float north from the Twickenham launch.
It was a peaceful float with small, manageable rapids. Buck Owens, Tecates, blue skies, a swimming snake. The John Day cuts past some amazing formations. Some of the rocks around here are more than 225 million years old. According to the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute, the area was once dotted with tropical volcanoes. Evidence of saber tooth cats, ancient marine reptiles and small 3 toed horses have been uncovered.
After 5 hours and 18 river miles we pulled over to a secluded beach with hiking trails that climbed up basalt structures and overlooked the river and valley. We set up camp under a couple of juniper trees next to an active colony of swallows with nests tucked into basalt columns. I was attacked by a cactus. At night we saw the milky way.
In the morning we woke with the sun rise and heard a droning noise. Out from the western valley something approached from the sky. It was red, white and blue…It had wheels, a parachute, and a fan. The pilot flew by, did a couple tricks and disappeared to the east. We shot some video – I post when its edited. After coffee and oatmeal cookies we packed up the raft and relaxed along the slower 12 river miles that took us to Clarno.