Colorado River (Dewey Bridge to Moab Bridge) 7/2-7/4 Continued

Floating those first 45 minutes was spectacular to say the least. Our first impressions of the river were that of majesty, intensity, and total and complete stoke. There are very few things in this world that I would say I don’t get excited about, but somethings get me way more pumped than others. The river instantly looked different from the water than it did whilst we drove down the road, the sounds, the smell, the heat, all came together in  coalesced perfection. The water invited us in sooner than we expected ad with in 30 minutes of start our voyage we were swimming alongside our boat. Beers in hand smiles in place. Jonas you could say has an affinity for the water and instantly made that clear with the comfort and ease he displayed in the water.IMG_0638

We made our way down looking frequently up in awe at the canyon walls and examining larger boulders on the side of the river to try and decide whether or not they were worth climbing and jumping off of. It was pretty easy to decide to jump. If the water was deep enough we jumped. Simple as that. That being said more often than not the rocks were situated tight in to the side of the bank with the surrounding water to shallow to allow us the gratification of air time and submersion.

By the time night was descending on I was quite hungry, drunk and very sleepy. Cruising towards our first set of rapids we encountered a man on the side of the river in his own boat. He was with a larger group none of who were with him on the bank. Dave, as we soon learned he was called, (maybe it was John or something else entirely but for the sake of this story we will say Dave) warned us about the life jacket enforcement zone we were entering as well as the rougher waters ahead. Proceeding clade in our floatation devices and with the utmost enthusiasm about encountering an actual rapid, we floated on. But about twenty minutes floating over some mild white water we decided that Dave, or whatever his name was, was an overly cautious river guide exerting his authority over two green horns. And as it turns out, he was. We floated calmly down to a gravel filled and rock strewn beach that we quickly decided was good enough for camp one. f

Reaching out campsite Jonas jumps out of the boat ahead of me, grabbing the nose of the canoe he pulls us up onto a more stable landing. That being said, mud in which you sink up to your knees in can hardly be described as stable. Almost loosing our shoes, we quickly ported the canoe up the bank about 15ft out of reach of the clinging fingers of the river. Unpacking quickly with the fading day light Jonas focused on the tent and I on dinner. The idea was to quickly and effectively get everything done. And to be honest we did. We quickly crushed it out. Jonas had the tent up in no time and we were soon drinking our fifth beer of the day around the camp stove.

While the bugs were annoying and the occasional bite of a horse fly kept my use of four letter words in a moderate range, there was nothing really to complain about, beside the lack of time.

7/3 5:05am

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Waking up to sunrise will always be one of my favorite things. Here it is no different, as the sun crested up and over the towers to the east and crept into our tent I slowly began to wake. With in a matter of moments the sun was so warm on my sleeping bag the I quickly climbed out and walked down to the river to splash water on my face. Turning around I noticed Jonas was still fast asleep. So I decided to get started on breaking down camp on my own. We had brought bagels for breakfast and I figured that we could just make those on the fly as we jumped in the boat for a downward float. As I began cleaning up from dinner, just reorganizing really, I also brought some water to a boil and made coffee before the heat of the day would render any extra warmth unbearable and coffee all but undrinkable.

With coffee made and the beginning of our day looking bright Jonas and I set out on the river once again eagerly anticipating whatever the river could throw at us. In minutes we began gushing about this and that, exclaiming for the beauty that was our and ours alone that morning on the river. As we carried down stream from out camp site we were still beyond baffled that no one else was yet up and at them. As the temperature rose we know it was beyond possibility that anyone still lay asleep in a tent or sleeping bag. (Unless they had portable AC)

Our first challenge that day came early, a very short yet powerful section of what must have been less than class one rapids. Situated under the shadowed base of a red cliff, these rapids did more for us than any cup of coffee. Despite all of our plans and efforts as we dropped into the current we knew very quickly that canoes are not meant for any kind of serious white water as solo crafts. While fast and powerful on flat water and ever rather dexterous in a current, in a rapid your better off in an inter-tube than a canoe. Our boat  quickly took on several inches of water. The weight bogged us down and with a few strong paddle strokes and the help of the current we made our way to the Western bank. Once there we quickly realized two things. First we should just empty the canoe and dump the water. Secondly, we had no bailing system. Jonas had my coffee mug and quickly realized that would be our best bet for quick and easy situations that did not require the full emptying and overturning of our MRC.

To be continued again.

 

Colorado River (Dewey Bridge to Moab Bridge) 7/2-7/4

7/1 10:30pm:

“Hey Jonas grab the front end. Ready lift!” Jonas and I tug up on the Mad River Canoe, green and beaten. “Alright walk back, around these two trees. You know I had a boss in Hawaii when I lived there who just loved to chastise you for bumping into stuff while moving things. It’s like come on man! I know I shouldn’t be hitting the wall its not like I did it intentionally. That guy was such a dick. Alright do you have straps or should I grab some out of my dads truck?” We placed the MRC on top of my Subaru Outback, the rough edges of the boat threatening our fingers with splinters. “I have some, but you should grab some of your dad’s straps as well. It will make life easier.” Our conversation ended with both of us heading to back our bags for the quick 36 excursion we had only planned for eight hours before.

7/2 12:55am:

Thinking to myself, “God damn. The words on the page are starting to look like a different language. Fuck. They are a different language. I need to go to bed. I guess I’ll just have to finish this in the car tomorrow. Well I guess it’s better than not doing it at all. Alright, I need sleep. But fuck I gotta pack. Alright…. ” Walking downstairs from the kitchen to my bedroom the light has been on in my room the whole night, my gear is all stashed and organized neatly in my closet in bins according to the activity/ time of year. “Alright chairs, table, cooking gear, stove. I should probably take the smaller propane bottles for this trip, no sense in hauling a months worth of propane down a river for three days.” The mental check list I go through is supplemented by years of packing and days of unneeded suffering from lack of preparedness. “Alright the spices are in there as well. Plates, pots pans, fork, spork. Where is my knife? Oh its on the bedside table by that fucking broken watch.” My favorite wrist watch had broken two days previous while climbing in Boulder canyon. The wrist band had caught on a piece of jagged granite and sheared the scratched time piece from my arm.  “I’ve gotta fix that. Water! six gallons for two people for three days, but only one full day? Should be fine.”

“Alright whats next clothes? I’ll need just a pair of water shorts, sun shirt, I’m gonna want a layer for those classic desert nights, but it is July… maybe just one medium weight layer. This will do.” I held up my medium weight marmot sweater. It’s black like all the other layers I own. “Alright shoes! I best be taking my flippy floppies! And the keens. This is why I got keens in the first place!  Might as well use ’em! God I need to sleep. Alright jam this all in the bag. Oh shit! What do I need to remember in the morning? Tooth brush/ toothpaste, glasses/ sunglasses, anything else? Add snacks to that list. No point in buying more snacks when I have a ton here. Alright I’m wrecked sleep, where are you? 1:15am.

5:55am:

The mellow tones of my alarm wake me up just as the front door shuts loudly just to the left of my window. My roommate and comrade in arms for this trip is heading to the Subaru with his personal bag. The car is locked. His attempts to open the locked door rouse me fully from my sleep to unlock the car and grab my own bag. “Okay where is that list of shit I needed? Toothbrush, toothpaste check. Snacks, check. Glasses on my face and in the pocket we are good to go! Oh wait! I have that new North Face bag. I should bring that as it will be more water proof than this backpack. Quickly switching gear from bag to bag I yell up to Jonas I will be right out.)

“Coffee?” Jonas looks over at me signaling his agreement with simple eye contact. We are both exhausted. Jonas is driving, he just jumped straight into the drivers seat and assumed the position for the drive to Moab. I have a lot of gratitude for that. We roll down and fill the gas tank at the corner of Broadway and Table Mesa, crossing over South Broadway to Cafe Sole immediately after to fuel up ourselves. The sleep is still falling from our eyes, and flaking off of our voices. Neither of us got more than 5 five hours and today is going to be a long day. “Quad shot mocha please.” Jonas orders a quad americano. “Alright lets hit it!” is the what escapes my lips as soon as the first sip of coffee hits me. Walking out to the car the energy is notably increased we are hitting the road and this spur of the moment adventure is just now starting to feel like reality. Time to crush!

The first few hours in the car fly by. The road is lost in conversation and the conversation flows fluidly from one topic to the next. Jonas and I have traveled together a few times, adventured together more than a few times and lived together for over three years. To say we are comfortable with each other would be an understatement. Jonas’s greatest strength in conversation is to pose questions. He keeps them coming in such a way that he is constantly making you reevaluate what you so easily took for granted or for matter of fact. The other brilliant thing about Jonas is his eye and mind for statistics. He keeps me straight and honest when consider numbers. for instance on our way home I quoted the overland speed of a North American Antelope at 77mph however Jonas, who knew the overland speed of the cheetah was quick to correct me. “The antelope can’t possible top out at 77.” He says through a half laugh. “I spent a fair amount of time reading about cheetahs as a kid, they were my favorite animal.”

Passing through Vail around 10:30am we decide that we should probably get breakfast soon. We stop off at a little diner in Glenwood Springs around 11am. The potatoes were fire. So was the coffee which I drank like water. Jumping back in the car we adjust the front strap thats holding the canoe in place. The red and black husky tie downs had been flapping just enough to bother us. Just under three hours left. Probably time I get back to my Spanish homework. It’s a unit final. Wanna help?” Jonas agrees to help, and for the remainder of our drive I work tirelessly to complete what should have been done a day before.  It takes me through lunch at Peace Tree in Moab to finish

7/2 4:00pm:

Groceries and a stop at the gear shop for a dry bag latter and its actually the moment we have both been waiting for. “Do you have service? Can you see how much further it is to Dewey or have we already passed it. I feel like it’s a long way out.” I pull up the map on my phone and respond, “It is ten miles out. We should be there in an hour.” I look confused. “Do you have it on walking?” Jonas looks over at me, “That gets me every time.” We pull up to Dewey Bridge 10 minutes later, hearts giddy with excitement. We are beyond stoked to get the boat in the water and start our voyage. Last minute gear prep is our quick change into swim wear, ditching unwanted items in the car and at long last packing the canoe itself. “Alright let me snap a picture of you next to the boat! You know for posterity sake!”IMG_0585 “Will you take one of me?”IMG_0588 “Lets put these damn phones away and leave them away for at least a little while.” “Alright, ready? Shall we shove off?”

7/2 4:45pm:

“Hey I think we are backwards. No, James I think your sitting in the back so boat is actually facing the wrong direction. Should we pull over and reorganize?” “Alright right there, yeah perfect.” We had loaded incorrectly and less than 25 feet into our 40mi voyage we had to stop and rearrange. “Alright looking good. Lets do this for real now.” Shoving off, the bank slipping away behind us, the smiles on our faces growing larger and larger. IMG_0597