One thing I’ve emphasized from the get-go on this blog is that my relationship with adventurous, thrill-seeking Jon has me constantly pushing my boundaries. It seems like every time we head out, we are off to do things that are totally new to me, or toe the line of my comfort zone. Though in the moment this has lead to some rough times, I truly feel that pushing ourselves is what keeps us alive, and I appreciate that we can work through things together.
This spring, a friend of ours who worked for a rafting company in Moab, Utah gave us the opportunity to join her and her boyfriend on a trip down “the daily” – a stretch of the Colorado river that they regularly run. While I was very excited to be joining Courtney and Jake for this adventure, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was a bit nervous about running the rapids.
The morning was a bit of a scramble, because when we awoke in the La Sal Mountains after a night of camping, we were still unsure as to whether the trip was a go or not. Needless to say, the last minute decision, had Jon and I still getting our things packed as the bus rolled in to pick us up. In a whirlwind, we boarded the bus, and much to the paying customer’s confusion and amusement, we sat down half-dressed, under-caffinated, and still eating the last few bits of breakfast. Once we arrived at the put-in spot, we separated from the commercially guided group, and unloaded our “duckies” or inflatable kayak-like boats. Unlike the large rafts which can be team paddled, or paddled by the guide, our duckies were two-seaters, much smaller and closer to the water level. We slathered on a bit of sunscreen, clipped our things into the rafts, and we were off!
It was a sunny day, clear and cool in the morning. The obligatory first “river beer” was cracked quickly upon entering the water, despite being only about 9am. We paddled lazily for a while, getting used to the process before our first set of rapids appeared around the bend. As we headed toward the whitewater, Courtney shouted out a few instructions on how best to approach, and then we were in it. A rush of cold water hit us, and I felt a surge of adrenaline. It was an incredible high to be right down in the roaring water, feeling the splashes hit my legs and face. I laughed and screamed and often forgot to paddle in the sheer joy of being in the thick of it. All too quickly the first rapids had passed, and I was looking on to the next.
We went along this way, relaxing and sipping our beers, exploring the river banks, paddling close for views of swallow nests, and heading back into the middle for each set of rapids. By noon, we were all ready for a break, and found a sandy beach to pull off on to eat some lunch. Jake had packed a fantastic lunch of salad wraps and fresh cut fruit. The quote of the day, which has since been repeated many a time, was when Jake – in his extremely understated way of talking – told us the story of how he peeled all the kiwi fruit, and how the kept sliding from his hands, because, well, “they were slippery little f*ckers.” We all laughed until there were tears in our eyes.
When we launched, we took an opportunity to take a few photographs before we were off again. A few more cold rapids helped cool us down after our lunch in the sun, and soothed the sunburns already forming despite multiple applications of sunblock.
As we neared the end of our river trip, Courtney guided us up a small tributary to a place we could hop out of the kayaks and hike to a rock art panel. In southeast Utah, the amount of petroglyphs and pictographs boggled my mind when I first arrived, and every new site held it’s own unique magic. All too soon, the trip was over, and we pulled our kayaks up onto the shore and departed for home sunburnt and salty. While the experience was both physically and mentally draining, I was absolutely enthralled with the rapids and being in the swift water. The great experience left me wanting to do it again as soon as possible. Finally I found an extreme activity that captivated me. No fear here!