Earn Your Steak Dinner

Katie WongCarter | Green River, Utah

It seemed hopeless; I was spinning in circles. I would leave the river right shore almost point the bow down river and then the wind would turn me back into the shore. It was my fifth day at OARS Dinosaur National Monument guide course and my third day on the oar rig. I’d try again, okay this time I’ll get the stern out first and use the wind to spin me out into the current. BUMP, right back to shore again. My arms were burning and my mind was spinning too. What have I learned to get me out of this?

Flash back to my first time at Dinosaur NM was six months before (see picture) and it was my first glance at the Green River and the majestic place that is Split Mountain. Not only is it a significant geological place where river cut through a mountain instead of going around it and the alleged hang out of famous wild western outlaws but is still being considered for reclamation damming that could take all of this beauty away. In a way Cottonwood Wash boat ramp was my home base and the most familiar piece of the river, and I needed to get there.

Get into the current! That’s all I needed to do, no matter what direction I was pointing the boat I needed to get out in the current and use that momentum to fight the wind. All I remember is pulling the oars as fast as I could to pull the boat away from the shore. It wasn’t straight forward there were some corrections and it felt like an arm wrestling match with a lot of shaking and you’re not quite sure who is going to win. SPLASH. We were out of the eddy and into the current. “You’ve earned your steak dinner!” my mentor yelled from the stern “Now let’s get out of here.” At 22,000 CFS the river was moving fast and I needed to land the oar rig for the first time ever and not miss or we’d be “rowing for miles of flatwater.” Turning the corner there it was, our ramp on river right after a rock and some submerged trees. The wind was still strong but the current was stronger. I worked my way from river left to river right riding the current, avoiding a rock which created a small wave but it didn’t distract me from pointing the rig and poising the boat to jam ashore. Ready set, push, push, push, PUSH, CRUNCH. We made it!

I had gone from being scared of moving water to an eddy catchin’, throw bag throwin’, white water swimmin’ paddler. When friends asked how the trip went I say “it was life changing.” The skills and tenacity I learned from being on the river have given me clarity in life on land. Without these rivers it would rob future generations for a chance to find themselves and develop these characteristics.

Support the protection of 5,000 new miles of wild and scenic rivers