Nicko Hawkins: We celebrated the river corridor by exploring the watershed from its headwaters of Copper Mountain all the way to its coast. While driving into its headwaters around copper mountain we found some springs that allowed the illusive pitcher plant to thrive. The Pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant that thrives in areas near springs. We found a couple that you could see the bugs flying around inside the pitcher plant.
It was a great adventure drive as we headed to the Elk from the Rogue through Eden Valley. I had picked up a coos bay district forest service map that was the perfect tool to find our way through Oregon’s Coastal mountains. As we came over the pass and could see Copper Mountain we followed small streams that turned into the South fork of the Elk River.
We followed the south fork a ways and a few miles before the confluence with the North Fork Elk there was a small pond called Laird Lake. As we stopped to check it out we found some other campers walking away with handfuls of trout they had caught. It was at the point in time that we realized that we had not brought any food and we in need of finding some dinner at some point. So we decide to grab a fishing pole and test our luck at this pond hoping to find the luck of the other fishermen. I then tied up a lure on my pole and walk out onto a log that I can cast into the lake from. On the second cast I got a nice bite and brought in an edible 12 in trout. At this point Clara wanted to try so while I cleaned my fish Clara took one cast into the lake. She thought she had snagged the line but then the line started going away from her. She quickly fought it and brought in a nice 3 pound trout. So after three cast we had dinner and were moving down the elk river in search for a nice private camp site.
We found a great place along the mainstem of the Elk River and spent the night listening to the rapid above. In the morning after breakfast and the sun came out Clara and I repelled into the canyon to and swam the tranquil canyon with crystal clear water. After swimming 2 canyons and walking around a rapid we found a place to climb out of the canyon and walk back to our camp. It was a wonderful experience floating in the recreational Elk River.
After Celebrating the Elk I learned that it was designated Wild and Scenic in 1988. The last 2 miles of the North Fork Elk are designated "wild" and the section from the confluence Anvil Creek is designated "recreational." It is designated for having the healthiest native salmon and steelhead runs in the continental united states. There is also the Copper Salmon Wilderness that is located on the north shore of the Elk River and is home to a great selection of old growth forest.