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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It’s been a few years since I ran Service Creek to Clarno. A few new friends were novices rafting so we picked up a cancellation for 15-18 June, booked our shuttles and put in - in pouring rain.

We had 2 boats with 4 adults and 2 children with smiles on their faces despite the conditions. Just before we launched an older gentleman from the BLM came down to the launch to check our permit. He had a clipboard with some kind of print out - and our name wasn’t on it. I clearly had a permit for that stretch at that time and date. He didn’t seem to mind and took my name and checked our gear. Good interaction, just odd. I like to know I’m legal.

Anywho, finding camps was super problematic. Camps marked on the map didn’t exist. In fact, about 1 in 6 didn’t exist or were not useable. We rowed over 24 miles and 10 hours before we made an impromptu camp. We kicked the bushes around on some flat spots and eventually made do. We’re not complainers and our kids had a great time, but the River was very crowded. Every ramp I went past had lots of folks putting in.

Is this normal John Day ops? The rain subsided and we had good weather, great fishing and good laughs but the lack of camp sites was puzzling. Any other thoughts on this? We even had our permit checked by Oregon State Police at Clarno when we got out. A group behind us had a tiny kid with NO pfd and NO permit and were not cited.

I can’t say the system makes much sense. Maybe cabin fever is getting lots of folks on the water.
 

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Shapp
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Can't comment on the crowd, but the map is pretty old. There are indeed several camps marked on the map that do not exist. There are several pretty nice (and legal) camps that are not marked on the map at all.
 

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We ran Clarno to Cottonwood last year. Early June, water was high. We had a heck of a time finding a campsite every day. River was super crowded. I wonder if the sport is just becoming more and more popular. When you blank on lotteries you go where you don’t need to win the lottery. I’m wondering if this is going to be the new normal. I also did Stillwater Canyon on the green last year. Same thing, super crowded no campsites. One night we pulled over after dark and camped in a not so great location because we ran out of daylight looking for an unoccupied camp.
 

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We also did Clarno to Cottonwood this year under the new permit system. The river felt full, but not ridiculous like previous years at prime time (especially at the ramps). Got checked for our permit 3 different times by rangers, they said they were having a huge poaching problem with people pretending ignorance. I didn't get information on any penalties doled out, sadly.
 

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yes the covid thing is having a big effect on outdoor stuff in general everyone is trying to get out of the house it has ruined alot of our plans in the process
 

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Jared
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This is the first season for the new permit system, so I am not surprised they are not citing for following the rules. I had friends on the same stretch just a few days before you, and they used the same camps they always get. I'm sure that Covid has affected things, and the JD is having a great season water wise. In fact, of the 3 or 4 separate groups who have run it in the last 5 weeks, you are the first one I had heard mention the scarcity of camps. There is a reason they started to limit permits, hopefully the limits will help. We have some incredibl overnight rivers in Oregon at our disposal, but I get tired of running the limited out ones where you are hunting for camps. I do like the shoulder season trips where the weather isn't ideal but it slows river traffic significantly.
 
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