It’s been about a month since my last post, and, coincidentally, about the same time since we’ve seen the sun. Well, ok, it hasn’t been quite that bad, but the weather has been decidedly atrocious. We’ve had thunderstorms and/or rain pretty much every day for the past three weeks. It all began Memorial Day weekend, when Cam invited me to join him on a river trip down the Green River…
At eight PM or so, friday, May 29, nine of us arrived at Sand Wash, the put-in for a five-day trip floating the Green River in east-central Utah. Cam, his stepmom, and a collection of rather experienced river-runners and I all set up our tents and rendezvoused for beers and some pre-trip storytelling. It drizzled most of the night, an ominous sign for the days to come.
Day one: May 23
We didn’t shove off the next morning until eleven or so — nine of us on three rafts — a 14, 15, and 16-footer. It was drizzling and rather miserable, but we were in high spirits, cruising down the rather swollen, 5mph-flowing river for most of the day. Around six or so we found our first camp — a nice, shady flat area nestled in an inner curve of the river. Martinis and mexican food were consumed en masse and soon it turned dark. After some drunken conversing and guitar-playing another torrential downpour effectively scattered everyone to their respective tents for the evening.
Day two: May 24
The next morning was quite beautiful. The sun peeked out and illuminated the sandstone walls of Desolation Canyon just in time for breakfast:
As would become customary for the rest of the trip, we shoved off at around ten. It was also the day for the first decent-sized rapid of the trip. We pulled off to the side sometime around noon and scouted it from shore. Ominous clouds billowed downstream and we ran the rapids without incident. That is, if you don’t call my punching the front of the boat and getting absolutely drenched an incident. Right after that it started to get colder and rained a bit, and a couple miles downstream we pulled off for lunch.
I should comment that every single meal on the river was delicious — these aren’t meals you can put together on a backpacking trip — we feasted on Spaghetti, Sausages, and Burritos w/ everything, and that was just the beginning. French Toast and Eggs w/ Biscuits greeted the mornings, and lunch consisted of fantastic sandwiches w/ hummus, sprouts and the works; it was ridiculous. I’ve never been so spoiled in the backcountry.
Not having put enough warm clothes in my drybag, I was quite miserable for the rest of the day until we made our second camp at an aesthetic, open spot at a bend in the river. Soon after unloading, I set up my tent and took a gander at some of the boulders in the vicinity. They looked promising, so I retrieved my climbing shoes and climbed some fantastic problems on excellent sandstone, all around V0-V2 or so. Then a vicious storm rolled in, and most of us took shelter and napped to wait it out. Later we set up a system of tarps to protect the kitchen area so the day’s chefs could prepare dinner, and the evening was dry and quite fun.
Day three: May 25
I don’t remember much about this day except that it was finally sunny for most of it. We set up the best campsite of the trip on a beautiful sandy beach which rose up twenty feet or so from the river. Cam and I cooked up burritos w/ Chipotle-marinated pork which turned out to be a big hit, and we spent the rest of the evening drinking Margs and tossing around a frisbee. Not a bad life. The sunset on the sandstone walls was spectacular, and Cam and I stayed up late chatting until another rainstorm cut it short. It would be the last of the trip.
Day four: May 26
The morning dawned bright and cloudless — we were in for a spectacular day. Spirits were high and we hit the Tecate hard throughout the day — something like four beers before lunch. Right around mid-morning we pulled off to scout what was supposed to be the biggest rapid of the trip, a seven on the ten-point scale. It formed last summer during an especially violent flash flood out of a side canyon, scattering huge boulders everywhere and creating a nice, big, frothy rapid to navigate. Cam ran it like a pro. It turned out to be rather mild for us two twenty-somethings but provided some much-needed excitement for the group. Afterwards we went back to the beer, hitting it pretty hard until we set up the last camp of the trip. It was probably the least aesthetic of the campsites (no boulders to climb!) and it was a pretty subdued evening. The night was clear and stars infinite, and by this time I was in full-on river mode, enjoying the utter disconnect. It’s times like those that I live for…
Day five: May 27
The last morning was a bit bittersweet as we all knew it was all coming to the end. The group had meshed admirably and we were all getting along great. It’s amazing how big a difference the right personalities make on a long trip like this — there were no drill sergeants and no slackers, everybody pitched in and things just got done smoothly every time. I was proud to be part of such a cohesive group.
It was another cloudless, warm day; I went swimming off the boat and we had a few water fights. By three or so, though, we were coming to the last of the rapids and soon were taking out and unloading. It didn’t quite hit me until I turned on my cellphone (only Verizon customers got decent service) and made a few phone calls. I was connected again, back on the grid. Back to society, back to the grind.
Though most of you probably won’t read this, I’d like to thank everyone for such a great trip — Laurie, Kerry, Paul, Kelli, Ridge, Anita, Joelle, and especially Cam for the invite and putting up with my occasional surliness over those five days. It was fantastic — let’s make it a tradition!
Photos from the trip