We rafted over 84 miles

Maddy Elliot | San Juan river, Arizona

Everyone associates the word adventure with a memorable experience. For me, the word adventure means packing a dry bag, loading a trailer with 14 people’s gear, and hopping in a car caravan headed to the desert. It was spring break during my sophomore year in college and we were on our way to the San Juan River for a 10-day rafting excursion. We had four rafts, two paddle boards, a guitar, a banjo, a mandolin, and a ukulele. We rafted over 84 miles. We went on day hikes relying on paper maps and followed cow paths to avoid crushing the delicate cryptobiotic soil that surrounded us. All the while playing music and reading books. The strangers on the trip turned into close friends within the first night.

It was the most easy going camping I’d ever done still to this day. At night, we sat around the campfire playing word games and telling jokes. We played the song “Wagon Wheel” so many times it became our anthem. We slept together on pads under the open sky. While we stargazed, we had intimate conversations about how small we were in the universe… then someone would fart in their sleep to bring us back down to earth and we’d bust up laughing. We were completely disconnected from the outside world and yet, I felt so connected to everyone and to nature around us. The muddy river and red canyon walls instilled a sense of wonder in everyone lucky enough to come across it. This adventure is one of the reasons I’m itching to get to the next river trip.


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