Pro Trips: Blossom Bar
Blossom Bar is possibly the most recognized and talked about rapid on the Rogue River. Maybe even on the top list of rapids talked about in the river community. It gets lots of attention due to its tricky move at the top of the rapid. If you mess up this move chances of a wrap, flip, swim, or a combination of all increase. However, with a little knowledge, a YouTube scout, and practice you can (probably) make it down without incident.
Names of Features
To properly discuss a complex rapid like Blossom Bar, you must first get on the same page about the features of the rapids. Here are some commonly used names, starting from top to bottom.
The Scout Rock - River right. Make sure to keep your boats tight, as many groups will pull over to use this spot. You’ll probably have to tie boats off to each other.
Purgatory Eddy - This eddy is on river left, above the start of the rapid.
The Move - The traditional left to center line.
Picket Fence - The series of rocks and cause of all the problems.
Crescent Rock - Huge rock right in the middle of the river that makes the eddy you are trying to get into.
Conglomerate Rock - A rock that looks like it is made out of a bunch of smaller rocks. Often used to bounce or slow your boat down.
Beaver Slide - The end of "the move" where your boat exits the eddy made by the crescent rock
Picture Eddy - An eddy below the move that can be used for safety, or photos.
Ducky Beach - A beach just past "the move" on river right. A great place for duckies or kayaks to regroup. Can also be a helpful place if some sort of rescue is needed.
Volkswagen Rock - GIANT rock in the middle of the river, at the end of the rapid. You can go left or right of it.
Celebration Eddy - This is a large eddy on river left that can easily fit an entire trip of boats. Don’t go downstream of this eddy until your entire trip makes it through the rapid.
The Set Up
The classic left to center line is pretty much the only line people take and talk about when talk of Blossom Bar comes up. It is a fairly straightforward eddy catch but has a high consequence if things don't go according to plan. Here is how I like to break down the line.
After a quick scout to make sure there isn't someone already stuck on the Picket Fence I like to float over to the Purgatory Eddy. I take one last look down stream and slowly leave eddy with my bow facing downstream pointed a little bit to the left.
As my boat starts to pick up downstream momentum I hold my 45º angle and pull to keep my momentum in check. I like to keep an eye on the rock that is next to the Crescent Rock, as this is one that can help, or hurt you based on your momentum. You are aiming to get into the eddy formed by this and the big Crescent Rock. I like to go as slow as I can because I don't want to bounce off the rock and go towards the Picket Fence. It's ok if you bump the rock a little; it might even help turn your raft into the eddy.
As you cross the eddy line things seem to start going at triple speed so you need to remain calm and be ready to use your oars. If you have lined things up and timed your strokes perfectly, your boat will turn into the eddy, avoiding the nonsense of the Picket Fence and you will gracefully go down the Beaver Slide. That's the move!
However it isn't time to sit back and cheer. There are still moves to make and rocks to avoid. My go-to is to try to catch the Picture Eddy so I can watch others come down. It also sets you up nicely to avoid all the other rocks that may hang up any size raft. Once I leave the Picture Eddy I like to go left of Volkswagen Rock, even if it feels like I can make it right. It seems like a trick if you ask me.
After Volkswagen Rock enjoy the few waves and holes. Once you make it to the bottom head left to the Celebration Eddy to regroup.
Downstream Ferry Angle
An alternative way to run the move is a downstream ferry angle. It is the same line as described above but your stern is leading the charge across the eddy line. This is a great way to run the rapid, especially if your boat is heavy and you are worried about getting across the eddy line. Since you will be pulling with the current you need to be careful to avoid hitting any rocks.
The major downside to the downstream ferry angle is messing up sets your boat up nicely for a wrap on the picket fence rocks. As you make your way across the river and into the eddy you need to be cautious of hitting the rock next to the big crescent rock with lots of momentum. This is a great way to run the rapid, just be careful on how much momentum you have.
Not too many people take the right line. If the water is about 4500 CFS it could be a great option. There aren't any must make moves, just keeping your boat straight and moving down stream. There are a couple rocks that could cause a little mayhem but check them out at the scout and make your decision. The right line is great for kayaks or inflatable kayaks.
Blossom Bar is the Rogue’s crux rapid. It is common to float up to the scout and find an unlucky boat wrapped. Maybe there are people with it, maybe not. One time there was a dog sitting on the rocks of the picket fence. He didn't manage to jump back into the boat when her owners finally got the boat unstuck.
There are many ways to get a boat unstuck. The hardest part of a rescue at Blossom Bar is getting a rope to or from the stuck boat. Two common approaches are coming from the upstream side or the downstream side. Both have their challenges and require lots of complex rope work.
Check out this rescue accomplished from the top of the rapid.
Here is another great route from river right.
As you see from the two videos above, getting a boat unstuck is no easy feat. Making that move at Blossom Bar may seem easy enough, but if not executed bad things can happen. As you float down stream there are a handful of places to practice the move before you get there.
Stay safe out there.