Enjoy a guest post from our friend Greg Hatten about his further adventures with canvas and wool as he takes his wooden boat down some of the most beautiful and challenging rivers of the west.
The wild and scenic section of the Rogue River in southwestern Oregon is a national treasure. It’s a 35 mile stretch of rough and tumble river filled with extreme white water challenges, breathtaking outdoor beauty, abundant wildlife, and in the month of October – it’s filled with laughter from my favorite river rats for a few days of camping, fishing, river running, and poking fun at each other.
It’s always a slightly different group of guys – not everyone can drop out of life and into a canyon for four days and be completely cut off from work and emails, cell phones and text messages. Though the group represents a mixed bag of professions – doctors, lawyers, realtors, builders, and businessmen, work is almost never a topic for discussion. We’ve run hundreds of river miles together and spent hours around a campfire but I can’t tell you the specifics about what they do for a living or the location of their offices. On a trip like this, what you do for each other on the river is more important than what you do for others to make a living… it’s just one of the many reasons I love this annual adventure.
Gear is often a subject of discussion and sometimes derision. If you’ve got the latest camp gadget (that actually works) or the newest line of clothes from Patagonia, you’re gonna have a good campfire. If you’ve got a leaky tent, if your scotch is second-rate, or your flies are not producing fish – you’re gonna hear about it.
This year, instead of a nylon tent & down sleeping bag, I slept in a “throw-back” canvas cowboy bedroll with just a Pendleton wool camp blanket to keep me warm. When rain threatened, I put up a light-weight canvas rain fly by David Ellis strung between two of my 9’ oars. The weather forecast was for daytime temps in the low 70’s and nights to get as low as 38 degree’s – Friday showed 50% chance of rain… the campfire forecast was a heat-wave headed my direction if the nights got too cold or the canvas rain fly didn’t hold up.
One of our most seasoned river runners is fond of saying “there is no such thing as bad weather… just bad equipment”. Fortunately, the weather was good and so was my canvas and wool “equipment”. Our night-time temps never dropped below 40 degrees and the little bit of rain we got each night was perfectly repelled by the canvas rain fly over my head. I stayed dry and warm every night!
Canvas and Wool go together like Wood Boats and White Water. The “throwback” approach to camping was a perfect fit for the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River and is the only way I’ll camp in the future. Around the campfire, canvas and wool was a “hit” and the only “heat” I caught was about the second-rate scotch I brought for this trip.
If you want to experience the authenticity of canvas and wool camping yourself, we can help.