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Tom's Camping Journal
The Green River Canoe Trip
Thursday July 1st -Wednesday July 14, 1999

      The sun seared our pale northern bodies; the sudden transition from the cool mountains of Montana to the soaring temperatures of the Utah desert cooked us like raw meat in a frying pan. I expected the usual scrublands of juniper and pinion pine that cover much of southern Utah, but this was a true desert, an endless landscape of nearly barren land, extending as far as the eye could see in every direction. The shear bleakness of the landscape reminded me of Death Valley.

      The Green River seemed almost as out-of-place there as we were. It carries millions of gallons of water away from distant mountains, cutting through this hot, dessicated landscape with indifference. The river feeds a narrow strip of lush willows and tamarisk along it's banks, often no more than a dozen feet wide, before the greenery gives way to the emptiness of the desert.

      It had been almost fifteen years to the day since I first came to southern Utah for an expedition. I was sixteen years old then, and signed up for a 26-day walkabout with Boulder Outdoor Survival School a hundred miles or so to the west. That experience of hiking through the canyonlands was the most transformative experience of my life; it helped to empower me to live out my many dreams. Now, as a parent, I wanted to give my kids a similar opportunity for growth. Also, we wanted quality family time together, an opportunity to build memories that would last forever.

In Green River swimming along canoe.       After more than a day of preparation it was good to finally push out into the river, to join its watery migration across the desert towards the sea. For the next two weeks we traveled with the river, both on it and in it, from the town of Green River down stream for 120 miles to the confluence, where it merges with the Colorado River.

      I anticipated lazily floating the river in our canoes, drifting along with the current, occasionally using our paddles to steer clear of obstacles and eddies in the water. But a big wind blew up the river immediately upon our departure, transforming the placid waters into rolling waves, almost blowing us back up river. We grabbed our paddles and stroked the water, working hard to move downstream. We only needed to cover four miles that first day, but we really had to work to get there!

      Our hosts for this trip were our friends Bart and Robin Blankenship of Earth Knack school, along with their kids Tyree, age eleven, Teal, eight, and Tikla, three, plus instructors-in-training Clayton and Nick. The guests on this trip included Steve and Judy, a couple in their 50s from Chicago, plus Renee and I and our kids, Felicia, who turned ten on the trip, Cassie, almost nine, and Donny, age four. Despite the difference in their ages, Teal and Donny are especially close. They met for the first time at Rabbitstick Rendezvous two and a half years ago. They clung to each other like glue that week, and talked about each other for months afterwards. Donny didn't know Teal's name at the time though. He just kept talking about "that kid in the red shirt." They stuck together like glue during this trip too.

      Our first camp was Crystal Geyser, a favorite spot of Bart and Robins'. It is a cold water geyser, the "second largest in the world," according to the Blankenships. The geyser was inadvertently created by a man drilling for oil. The pipe is about a foot in diameter, and water shoots up thirty feet in the air, lasting for a surprisingly long time. The geyser water is highly mineralized, so the land leading down to the river is coated with the orange deposits several feet thick in some places. Despite the continuous foot traffic from ourselves and other visitors, the deposits remain in good condition. We set up our tents in the sand nearby.

      The geyser blows about every fourteen hours. For us the show came in the middle of the night. Half of the group rose for the first, false eruption, which was only a few feet high. Only a few adults rose for the real eruption an hour or so later.

      Although the emphasis of this trip was canoeing and camping, we also practiced primitive skills along the way. Bart brought along a bucket of yucca leaves for making cordage for bowstrings, and taught us how to work with that as we sat on the orange crust of the geyser. Yucca fibers were always tedious to process by the old method of scraping away the green flesh with a sharp blade, but Bart and Robin discovered a much better way to clean them. They cooked the whole plants in a steam pit. The flesh of the leaves could then be easily scraped out with a fingernail, aided by rinsing in the river. Clayton and Nick made bows right away from tamarisk branches for hunting carp. I made bows for each of our kids along the way.

      Despite fifteen years of cordage making experience, I still found it difficult to make a bowstring that wouldn't break. When I asked Bart for advice he said, "I see you still haven't read my book. (Earth Knack: Stone Age Skills for the 21st Century)" He showed me some new tricks to help equalize the strain on each strand of the cordage--a definite improvement.

      The next two days of our journey down the river were intermittently windy--often serene, but without warning we would be besieged by gusts of wind, choppy waters, and sometimes rolling waves. At times it seemed more "like paddling the Atlantic," mentioned Robin. The river is different every year she said.

      Besides the four canoes, we also had two kayaks, which were shared between the four older kids. It was a thrill to watch the kids paddle those kayaks down the river. They seemed to resonate with independence and new confidence. However, a big wind came up, and it took all our effort for Renee and I to keep our canoe pointed straight into the waves. We were unable to look back to see if Felicia was still in her kayak at all. But after the wind died down she paddled up beside us and mentioned how much fun she had on the waves! When I tried the kayak a couple days later, I immediately rolled it upside down and came up wet, surprised, and a little humiliated. Bart explained that adults are top heavy in the kayaks, so the kids are much more stable in them.

      The kids unfortunately neglected to tie up one of the kayaks when we stopped to go for a walk to look for agates. It was gone when we returned to the water, but thankfully the wind blew it into a quiet eddy a half mile downstream.

Kayaking the Green River.       Despite the occasional gusts of wind, the weather remained searingly hot most of the first week. For survival and sanity we had to jump into the river every hour or two to cool off. Our clothes were always wet, and even at night we would sometimes go for a swim just before crawling into bed to cool off enough to sleep. We usually slept on top of the blankets for several hours until the night cooled down. Renee would cover herself with a wet towel if she was really hot.

      Our second camp was under some cottonwood trees where there were thousands of stone cobbles covering the hills along the river. Bart, Nick and Clayton spent hours collecting chert, agates, and jasper for flintknapping arrowheads. Under the shade of the trees they reduced the cobbles to useable flakes. Later in the evening they buried the stones and built a fire over them. Heat treating the stones this way makes them more glassy and workable for making arrowheads and other flintknapping projects. Bart speculated that the heat drives off bound water molecules from the stone.

      The kids spent hours down by the river fishing for catfish. Teal especially loved to fish, and he would throw in a line almost as soon as we arrived in camp. In one afternoon the kids caught eleven catfish. We gutted the fish and baked them directly on the hot coals. Renee noted that we did not need to bring food--we just needed to bring kids!

      But we did bring food, and lots of it. We ate uncountable bags of bagels and cream cheese, cooked pizzas and cinnamon rolls, ate crackers, salami and cheese, cantaloupes, watermelons, apples and oranges. This was definitely not a "primitive" trip.

      Each day we would "raft up" in the middle of the river, tying all the canoes and kayaks together so we could pass snacks back and forth. After all my years of experience traveling by foot, I marveled to see the scenery pass so quickly by, even while we took a break to eat our lunch!

Musical horn while canoeing.       Before starting our journey we heard that the bugs were really bad on the Green this year. We made a special trip to Moab to buy head nets, just in case. Fortunately, the first few days were relatively bug free. The river level was falling with the disappearing snowpack in the distant mountains. We thought maybe the worst of bug season was over with. We were wrong.

      I always thought I was "mosquito tolerant," that I could camp with mosquitoes and not let them get to me. But on this trip I discovered that I am a mosquito wimp. Mosquitoes hid in the willows and tamarisk during the heat of the day, and ventured forth only with the cool of the evening. I have always sought out bushes for camping, so it was very different to choose only the most dead and barren campsites we could find. Our third stop was along an outcropping of rocks along the water. We stayed there for two nights.

      The kids spent hours and hours leaping off the rocks into the water, floating down river with the current. Our kids, especially Cassie and Donnie, were intimidated by the water at first. But after watching Tyree, Teal, and Felicia leap confidently into the current, they did too. Soon all but the youngest kids were leaping in, even without life jackets. Without really knowing how to swim, they learned the more important skills of how to stay afloat and get where they wanted to go. Renee observed that Felicia was a better swimmer than she.

      Later we adults imposed the requirement that the kids had to wear life jackets every time they entered the water. We knew they could stay afloat without the safety gear, but our main concern was that we would not be able to find a kid in the silty water if they dove into a rock or had some other accident. The kids protested daily, but managed to have a good time anyway.

      The most difficult part was keeping the kids out of the sun so they did not turn into lobsters. It was a challenge for us adults too. Our camp was shaded by two large cottonwood trees, but it was stifling hot, located up and away from the river. We stayed cool beside the river while we made pots with a beautiful purple clay we dug up back near Crystal Geyser. We mixed the clay with powdered deer pills, fine sand, and grit from ant hills for temper to strengthen the clay and reduce cracking. One lone, bug-free tamarisk bush grew out of the rocks by the water, and all of us tried to huddle under it for protection from the sun. We made clay pots and clay ocarinas, a musical instrument similar to a whistle. By the end of the day we almost welcomed the mosquitoes that came with the evening, because at least we would no longer be getting charred from the sun. But our evening activities were short-lived before we dived into our tents, tarps, and bug nets for protection. By the time the sun rose in the morning we welcomed the prospect of being burned, because at least the mosquitoes would retreat to the bushes! Little Tikla had the worst time with the mosquitoes. They always seem to recognize the freshest, youngest meat in a group, and she had lots of bites. She scratched the bites until she bled.

      I don't mean to make it sound like we had a hard time. It was always fun, even with the mosquitoes and blistering sun. It was simply challenging to stay out of the hot sun and the bugs while we were engaged in other activities.

Playing flute while canoeing.       As we continued our journey downriver, the scenery became more and more spectacular. We soon left behind the clay hills and badlands as we paddled down into the red canyonlands. Steve brought a Native American Flute, and Bart brought an Australian didjerido. Sometimes they would play as we drifted along. There is nothing quite like the gentle sounds of simple instruments echoing off the canyon walls. I played my PVC flute sometimes too, and there were several clay ocarinas, so we had lots of great music.

      The fascinating part about the geology along the Green is that it is so easy to see the layers in the canyon walls. Near my home in Montana the sedimentary layers have been uplifted at odd angles, so it takes some geologic detective work to figure out which layers are which. But in the canyonlands the layers are still flat, revealing the vast accumulations of sediments from ancient seas in chronological order, visible where the river has cut a deep and vivid crosssection back through time. Each day we would float millions of years farther back in time, usually seeing two new layers of sandstone or siltstone and shale per day.

      There are many tourist stops along the river which are marked on river maps for all to see. One of those spots is called "Register Rock," a section of canyon wall where graffiti is considered acceptable. River runners have stopped there for decades to carve their names and drawings into the sandstone wall. Our group was much more interested in the whirlpool we found in the water there. A large boulder in the river created a whirlpool effect as the water broke around it. Kids and adults alike slid off into the water to be gently sucked down and twirled around in the water. The river carried swimmers downstream until they swam a few strokes to catch the eddy behind the boulder, which carried them back up stream to do it again.

      One awkward custom of life on the river is that it is standard practice to urinate in the water. At home we've always been very careful to protect water quality, and we taught our kids to walk up and away from the water too. But along these desert rivers there is a problem when too many river runners stop and pee on the shore. It is too much for the desert soils to handle, and the entire shoreline can smell like urine. Peeing in the river makes sense, because the river is big and dilutes it so well, and it is not particularly clean anyway. Ultimately the water is all siphoned off down stream and channeled over land to Los Angeles for drinking water, but I guess that's their problem!

      For defecating, the standard practice is to leave it high and dry and smear it into the sand with a stick, a technique called the "desert smear." The hot desert sun sterilizes it in a few days. Rocks make decent toilet paper. As an alternative, Bart and Robin rented a box with a tight lid, called a "groover" since the original boxes were army ammo containers, which left a groove on your behind when you stood up. The new ones even have a plastic toilet seat. It was especially helpful for the kids, but sometimes we all used it when we were camped on sand bars and could not get up away from the river.

      As we descended still deeper into the canyons we found fewer good places to reach land and explore or camp. The band of willows and tamarisk along the rivers was virtually unbroken, forming a great wall of mosquitos. We found some nice sand bars to camp on, but I often felt stranded because we were confined to the open areas. If anyone walked to the edge of the thicket they would bring back a horde of blood-thirsty mosquitoes, and soon everyone in camp was swatting vigorously. The bushes were off limits!

      I enjoy camping and primitive skills because it gives me a chance to connect with the natural world, but on this trip I sometimes felt alienated from nature. I think it was mostly due to my botanical interest; I wanted to look at plants, but could not get anywhere near them. The experience reminded me a lot of Kevin Costener's B-grade movie, Waterworld, inwhich the greenhouse effect melted the polar ice caps and flooded the world, so everyone lived on water. Our life seemed a lot like that as we floated down river. There were several different groups that we met along the river, usually seeing each other on and off for a few days. We were all little communities, living on the water, eating there, playing music, bathing in it ten times a day to stay cool, and peeing in it. We were surrounded by water, yet drinkable water was also precious, since we did not want to drink river water. We carried as much water onboard as we could, enough to last about five days, then treated the rest with iodine tablets.

      At times I also felt I was on an alien planet, where life on land was just getting established, as if it had barely crawled up out of the river of life, and hadn't yet colonized the barren ground of the planet beyond the water's edge.

      At other times, the land seemed truly ancient, given the millions of years of sedimentary layers we floated by. I wondered about the native peoples who once called this river home and found sustenance there. They must have connected with this land in a much deeper level than I.

      But life also seemed precarious on this trip, especially when we made camp on an exposed sand bar in changing weather. I am accustomed to taking cover from inclement weather among rocks and bushes, so it was very different to stake the tent down in open sand to let a brewing storm blow right over us. This sand bar was a narrow point, just downstream of an island. The sandbar was already caving off into the water along one side when we arrived, but it was the best spot we could find for camp. Besides the weather was still calm then.

Wind breaking tent poles.       Renee and I rarely staked the tent down; it just seemed unnecessary. Instead we would weight it down with heavy gear in each of the corners. That was sufficient most of the time, but not nearly good enough in the wind, we discovered. We were never in danger of the tent blowing down, but we learned that the corners had to be staked out for the fiberglass rods to work properly. When the wind did come, it flattened our tent, splitting apart the fiberglass support rods, and breaking one of the metal couplings.

      With some effort we were able to wrap the rods with tape and tie a wooden splint across the broken coupling. We cut big wooden stakes and drove them deep into the sand. Although the tent was sad looking and not very strong, staking it out made it strong enough to last through the rest of the night and the rest of the trip.

      But the wind blew hard that night, and we could hear the sandbar getting smaller and smaller outside our tent. Much of the sandbar was gone by morning, leaving only a foot of ground outside our tent door. One corner of the Blankenship's tent was already at the water's edge. Nobody slept much that night in the wind. I think this whole first week of the trip was especially difficult for Judy, who did not have as much camping experience as her husband Steve. Besides that, they were sleeping under tarps, and did not have a safe refuge to hide from the bugs.

      We packed a little slowly in the morning, but soon enough we were once again paddling down the river. We passed through a section called "Bowknot Bend" where the river loops out first to the west and then to the east, almost coming back on itself each time. The first loop is five miles around, but only a quarter mile across. The second loop is seven miles long, but comes back to a point that is only six hundred yards wide. Most of our group got out at this point and climbed up over the saddle and down the other side. Renee and Robin tied the canoes and kayaks together, then paddled around the long way. Donny did not like the hike up the steep slope in the hot sun and screamed for all of Creation to hear it, but he was fine when we got to the top. We stayed up there for a while, then climbed down a precarious trail to the river on the other side. Donny rode on my back for much of the trip down, since I could keep my balance better that way, rather than by holding his hand. Once at the bottom we swam in the river until Renee and Robin picked us up.

      By mid-afternoon we reached Mineral Bottom, nearly seventy miles downstream from our starting point. Prior to the trip we shuttled vehicles down there, so we could get out and resupply with water and food for the second half of the trip. The road out of the canyon is etched into the side of a cliff. There were crumpled car bodies laying on the side of the mountain there, though I never heard if they were accidents, or merely someone's idea of disposal. In any case, the first trip in didn't bother me, but with each successive trip in and out to shuttle the vehicles back and forth, I was more and more eager to put that stretch of road behind me for good. Renee especially doesn't like roads like that, but she carefully put herself into an "altered state" for the duration, so it was not so bad after all.

      We returned to the town of Green River, where our trip began, and stayed at the campground there. Despite numerous bathings in the river each day, we were still dirty--mostly due to the river silt, so it was good to take a real shower and go out to eat.

      The following day we drove to Moab to restock for the second half of the trip. Steve and Judy bought a tent so they would have real protection from the mosquitoes. I led a brief botany walk through a park. In late afternoon we loaded up our fresh food and water and drove out to camp. Bart took us to a special place he calls Gypsy Camp. A group of "gypsies" used to camp there through the summers. They dug in stairs, lined the camp with rocks, and circled some of the plants with stones. A young girl painted faces inside a nearby cave. It was a beautiful spot, with an endless view over the canyonlands to the west, sheltered from the morning sun by high cliffs to the east.

Clay pots drying before wood firing.       The clay pots we made earlier in the week were now dry, and in pretty good condition, thanks to the padding of lots of bagels. We painted designs on the pots with a thick, dark dye made from boiled prince's plume, a type of mustard. Bart started a fire around the pots to warm and dry them for a couple hours, then built the fire right up over the pots to fire them. Nick got us started on a game where we had to figure out whether to pass a pair of sticks crossed or apart to the next person. We could choose to pass the sticks either way, but our legs had to be crossed or parallel like the sticks. Despite great efforts to give away the secret, the kids never figured out the game. Later we passed the talking stick, and each of us expressed our thoughts and feelings; the tired kids fell asleep in our laps and on the warm ground.

      In the morning the kids scavenged several partial sheets of plywood from the brush and built a fort. They used the screwdrivers on their pocket knives to remove sheetrock screws from the wood and to reattach it how they wanted it. Tyree brought along a deck of cards, and the kids played card games in the fort, and at each of our other camps too.

      We stayed at Gypsy camp all that day and a second night. Most of the group practiced flintknapping under the shade of a juniper. Judy and Steve each made stone knives with wooden handles, attached with pine pitch and yucca fibers. I mixed up more clay and made another pot.

      I spent as much time as I could exploring the local flora, since we were miles away from the water and the mosquitoes. I was especially thrilled to learn the chaparral ash. It is always fun when I can use my own book, Botany in a Day, to identify plants I do not know. After dark we held a discussion on the origin of consciousness.

      In the morning we broke camp and headed back to the river. We stopped along the road and picked Indian rice grass seeds for food.

      The river was deep red when we arrived back at Mineral Bottom. The storms of the last couple days missed us, but rained nearby, sending red desert sands flooding down the green river. The water was so muddy that we hesitated to jump in and silt up our clean hair. But as a matter of survival, we soon jumped in the water to keep cool. The water looked like hot chocolate as we paddled down the river into Canyonlands National Park.

      We left the kayaks behind for the remainder of the trip. The kids were no longer interested in paddling them, and it was extra work for us adults to tow them behind the canoes.

      The canyon walls in the park were not necessarily any taller than that which we had already seen, although we were clearly descending deeper into the rock layers. But sometimes we could get a good vantage point to see that above the canyon walls there were benches leading up to still higher and higher cliffs. It was quite magnificent. This was new territory for Bart and Robin too. They had often canoed the upper section down to Mineral Bottom, but had never been this far down.

      We camped that night on a narrow strip of sand between two large thickets of willows, tamarisk, and mosquitoes, or "whistling zonabees" as they are called in the legend about their origination.

Donny Elpel on red rocks along Green River.       Nick, Clayton, Bart and the kids started a game of "double ball" out on the beach. The game is also known as "buffalo balls," since that's what the ball look like. There are two small pouches filled with sand, connected by a strip of buckskin. Pick the double ball up on the end of a stick and fling it across the playing field to other team mates who try to catch it on their stick, or sweep it up off the ground. The objective is to move the double ball down the field and touch the opponents goal stick. It is a very wild and fun game, although it was a bit out-of-control at times.

      When we were still up a gypsy camp, Steve started telling the kids a story about Lea and Catria and the City of Steel, about a couple girls growing up on an ark ship bound for another planet. The story continued through the rest of the trip, ending with cliffhangers each night. Steve was such a good story teller that it wasn't long before most of the adults were also crowding around to hear the story too. We had the biggest tent, so the whole group would crowd into it for protection from the evening mosquitoes while Steve told his story.

      I was concerned at the start of the trip that it would have been too much for Steve and Judy to be surrounded by these six kids for the duration of the trip, but fortunately it worked out okay. They've raised children of their own, and Judy works as a Montessori teacher with kids similar in age to our own. There is an old saying that "it takes a village to raise a child," and that was really how this trip went. The adults outnumbered the kids by eight to six, and everyone offered guidance and parenting wherever needed. Clayton and Nick were especially good with the kids. Tikla thrived with Clayton's attention.

      As we paddled downriver, ever deeper into the canyonlands, we began to see signs of Indian ruins. We wanted to get out and hike to some of them shown on the map, but we could rarely find a safe place to dock at the edge of the river without being consumed by bugs. But we did find one nice shelf of white sandstone "slickrock" at the water's edge, so we were able to get out and walk for a little bit. The kids caught a lizard and learned how to hypnotize it by rubbing it's belly. It just laid there like it was dead.

      The weather was much cooler for this second half of the trip, so we did not have to dive in the water nearly so often. Still the kids would sometimes jump out of the canoes and float down river with their life jackets on, for as long as we would let them.

      Since the river was so murky we could never tell what was ahead of us.. Sometimes we would paddle along and suddenly find ourselves stuck on a sandbar, hidden just inches below the surface of the water. And while there were no rapids and the water remained mostly calm, there were always upwellings where the water would seem to boil up around us, as if some Green River monster were swimming underneath the canoes.

Fishing with bow & arrow.       Throughout the trip we hunted the murky waters for another kind of beast, one with orange lips that sucked at the foam swirling atop the eddies. We found groups of up to twenty carp feeding like that , but never did catch any. I came within inches of sticking my finger right in the mouth of one, but they were feeding underneath the branches of a tamarisk, so it was hard to get to them. Crashing into the brush with the canoe unleashed a swarm of mosquitoes so thick that Renee insisted we would not do that again! Nick and Clayton hoped to shoot some carp with their arrows, but never got just the right chance for it.

      One beach we camped on was invaded by crickets during the night. In the morning they hid under our tents, tarps, and other gear, so we caught a nice batch and cooked them with hot pepper sauce for a snack. When the sun came out, I dried and started winnowing the grass seeds we collected near gypsy camp. The kids built sand castles along the edge of the water.

      Another camp was at a place called Jasper Canyon. There were large chunks of the deep red, glassy jasper laying all over around there. We even found a fossilized sea shell, turned to jasper. But the really neat thing about this place was a natural amphitheater. A quarter mile up the canyon from the river there was a bowl where water fell from more than a hundred feet up. It was just dripping while we were there, but it was a fantastically beautiful spot. Judy especially liked the canyon amphitheater. She seemed much more at home on the second half of the trip, thanks to the bug proof tent. There was a pool of water in the canyon, only a few feet deep, but the kids were soon leaping off the rocks from a dozen feet up. The sandy bottom of the pool helped absorb some of the impact.

      In the morning we went back to the bowl for a jumping contest and a musical presentation. Nick and Clayton beat on pans and water drums to add to Steve's flute and Bart's didjerido. I especially enjoyed the sound from outside the bowl, where the music echoed down the canyon.

View of Green River, Utah.       This would be our last day paddling the river. Early in the afternoon we arrived at the confluence where the Green joins the Colorado River. Although the rivers are very similar, there were few bugs on the Colorado this year. However, there were many motorized rafts, so we were glad for the peace and solitude of the Green. At the confluence, the river was very shallow along the beach, so the kids spent hours jumping into the current and floating down as far as they could. Then they got out and ran as fast as they could back to the beginning.

      In the evening, Steve made up a new story called the "Green River Monster," different from the one I imagined under the water. His story was about a Canyonlands tour guide who ate his clients. The story was supposed to "give the kids nightmares for a week," but they thought it was funny.

      In the morning we packed our gear for the last time, and awaited a jet boat to carry us up the Colorado River to Moab. There are no roads down that far into the canyonlands, so jet boats are the only way back up river.

      This was the fourteenth of July and the birthday for both Felicia, now 10, and Steve, now 56. Renee and the kids baked a cake for the occasion. Nick and Clayton offered a class on basketry and later practiced flintknapping.

      Clayton gave Felicia the basket he made as a birthday present, and Nick gave her and Steve flicker feathers for presents. Tyree gave Felicia the deck of cards they had been playing with throughout the trip. Felicia seemed to glow and grow with these gifts, apparently realizing that gift-giving could be deeper and more sentimental than just giving or getting stuff. Then she took the skin off her nose by diving into the sandy bottom of the river!

      At noon the jet boat arrived, already loaded with four canoes and eight passengers, ready to take our group of fourteen people and four more canoes. We sped up the Colorado at about thirty miles per hour, quickly ascending through time back to the present age. The scenery was similar to the Green, but with more open vistas and rounded rock formations. Donnie told me he had to go pee, and the guides said I could walk him along the rail of the boat to pee off the back, but Donny was terrified of the idea. He grabbed a metal bar near the floor and clung to it for dear life when I tried to pick him up. Instead the boat pulled over and let us off at a sandbar.

      Back in Moab, we still had to make the shuttle run to Mineral Bottom to get the vehicles. I was glad when I drove up out of that steep road for the last time. Clayton took Steve and Judy to Grand Junction, Colorado to get a motel and clean up before their flight back to Chicago. The rest of us went out to dinner. Felicia got a dish of brownies and ice cream with a candle in it for her birthday. We ordered two plates and all shared.

      After so much anticipation and preparation, the Green River Canoe Trip was already behind us, a memory that will truly last forever. The kids did seem much more confident and capable now than before, and we all shared some truly quality time together. Even before it was over we began discussing ideas for a new adventure, possibly in Montana, for next year.

      Late that evening we drove out of Moab, headed home. Rain poured down from the sky as we drove away. There were flash floods in many canyons, and road damage across much of the area. I was glad at that moment to be in the car, and no longer in the canoe!

Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
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