My river rafting experience began over 30 years ago with a trip through Lodore Canyon on the Green River and has lead to many adventures and great memories. I never would have imagined all of the friendships and unique experiences that would begin with that one trip.
There were 16 people on that first trip. I only knew 2 of them before the trip started, but before the trip was over we were all friends an 4 of us are still rafting and were together again on the Green River this summer. Over the years literally hundreds of people have joined us for one or more trips. We have had many bring their kids and now even their grandkids.
That first trip we were using military surplus rafts, wooden boxes and rope. Now we have self-bailing rafts, aluminum boxes and straps. However the excitement and the thrill of running the rapids and enjoying the magnificent scenery is still the same.
In addition to Lodore Canyon on the Green River we have often ran Desolation/Gray Canyon on the Green. We have also ran the Yampa, Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon and the Middle Fork of the Salmon.
We have gained many things from the canyons: An appreciation of nature from sharing camp with sheep, deer, ringtail cats, bears, moose and mosquitoes. A sense of history of Indians, outlaws, farmers, ranchers and early river runners. A feeling for how the rivers change from year to year at different water levels and different times of the year.
We remember: Enjoying the peacefulness of the river during a fall snow, scrambling to find cover in a summer thunder storm, fighting the afternoon wind. The experience of hiking the side canyons to find interesting rock formations and waterfalls. Learning from boat mates or river maps about history, geology, entomology, astronomy, and botany. Learning and practicing camping and cooking skills. Developing first aid and survival skills. Building teams and friendships.
In these days of 24 hr news, cell phones, google maps, soft beds and central air and heat, maybe the best thing about the Wild and Scenic Rivers is the chance of having a true outdoor adventure and experience nature in its natural form. At times you don’t see any other people or have any contact with the outside world for hours or even days. It is a chance to truly enjoy nature and contemplate your place in the world.
What brings people back to the river? For some it may be the adrenaline rush of running the rapids, for others it is the wilderness experience, some enjoy the food, but for those that return year after year it is the the chance to share all of these experiences with their river family.