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.
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.
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.