This past winter there were a few weeks when I was psyched about bouldering. I had made it past the awkward period of time that it takes to get your fingers, ligaments, and tendons back into functioning order. This recurring interest actually happens annually and it is directly related to the season of anticipation between Fall and Winter when the biking and fishing become a bit cold and the snow depth isn’t sufficient for rock skis. A new couple had begun working the gate at the Y’s climbing gym and one day I struck up a conversation wherein the topics led from climbing to NOLS, to the Desert Southwest, to rafting with kids. It was then that I learned of the Desolation and Gray Canyons of the Green River in Utah, a perfect stretch of river for kids that is full of rapids and solitude, sandstone walls and ultimately, bliss. Since that spark infused conversation, I have learned a bit more about the Green, as have eighteen friends!
At 6am on June 25th, I awoke after three hours of matless “sleeping” on a raft trailer, completely amazed that my neck and back were not seized up. Silhouettes of desert spires were beginning to reveal themselves along the broken horizon as the early dawn indicated a bluebird day lay ahead. Five of us had shuttled our cars from the put-in, four hours north, to Swasey’s Beach. That morning we were headed to the Green River airstrip to board a bushplane for a half hour flight that would finish our shuttle by delivering us to the isolated put-in, Sand Wash. The flight was spectacular, the landing unforgettable, and within a few hours of reuniting with our other river mates, pushed off to float 85 miles of the Green River.
The river level was remarkably low this year due to a dry Colorado winter, but, even at 1200 cfs the Green provided an amazing adventure for both the nine kids aged between 5 and 10, and their ten parents. Rapids were run, swum, and rocks stuck upon. Most of the kids likely swam 40 of the river miles. The meals were gourmet, cocktails and beers unbelievably refreshing. The sights and sounds were utterly phenomenal: the echos in Sumner’s Amphitheater; close-up views of a bear, otters, goats, catfish, blue heron, petroglyphs, moonshiner cabins; attempting to fix a friend’s cataraft which was built in the 1970’s and accepting the fact that it would need pumping before every rapid to keep going; but, mostly enjoying the feeling of being small while staring up huge sandstone walls filled with alcoves, and spires. Here are some images from our trip. If you have not rafted this section of river, you definitely should!