Up the Chetco with kids in tow

Up the Chetco with kids in tow

Taming the wild in the wild: Kids go crazy on the Chetco


for the Siskiyou Hiker
by Gabe Howe, Executive Director

24 August 2016 | BROOKINGS, Ore. — My kids are 4 and 2. Almost 5 and 3. I know I’m supposed to take them to Yellowstone and Yosemite. But that’s expensive, a lot of driving on freeways, and there’s still so much close to home that none of us have seen. So we headed down Highway 199 in search of somewhere we could discover together.

Up the Chetco
We got to Brookings, Ore. and drove for about 40 minutes inland to our put in on the Chetco River. From there it took about another half hour to fairy our gear and the kids upstream to a sweet little sandy bar with great swimming.

The NRS paddleboard is like a barge, more efficient than a kayak if not in the wind, but a little more tippy, and it’s easy to keep everything dry by securing it with straps.

Further up the Chetco
The first night we got our bearings, explored around a little bit, and ate some sandwiches for dinner. The next day we headed further up the Chetco, for about another hour paddling until we reached an even sweeter spot with deep pools and a jumping rock.SAM_2313.JPG

I made an anchor by tying a rock to the end of a strap, turning the barge into a fairly functional dock we could jump off of and hang out on. We kept the kids in life jackets and let them do pretty much whatever they wanted. SAM_2256.JPG

While Ashland residents were frying tofu on the sidewalk, the mercury at our secluded river spot hit 90 at most.

And for a while, time just stopped as we swam, splashed and reveled in this little slice of public land paradise.SAM_2634.JPG

We spent a second night on the river and headed back towards Brookings Sunday, and enjoyed more cool marine air and outside family time.

Having Carter and Azalea along add an element of acute challenge to our adventures, but it’s well worth it. I think it’s easy to become fixated on national names like Yosemite, Crater Lake, or Yellowstone, and it’s easy to become comfortable with what we know is really close and easy.SAM_2263.JPG

In that, we forget to take out the maps and discover the wildlands right around the corner. It’s easy to forget that we live in wildest and most remote mountain range west of Interstate 5 and that we should explore it. SAM_2457.JPG

There are ridges, nooks and crannies, rivers, creeks and lakes, plateaus, forests, and over a quarter million acres of Federal Wilderness to explore in the Wild Rivers, Siskiyou Mountains, Powers, and Gold Beach Districts alone. There are secrets out there. And I prefer secrets over crowded parks.

So does my checkbook. ###