Cataract Canyon

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By the time I’d been back to work for just two weeks, I was headed off to the company river rafting trip down Cataract Canyon.  River rafting has been a company event every year for the past three years, but for a variety of reasons this was the first year I was able to attend.  Due to some last minute cancellations, Ben found out with about 12 hours of notice that there was space for him to come along on our all expenses paid trip as well. Pretty awesome.

We rounded up all our adventure gear basically in the middle of the night before we left and the next afternoon we were en route to Green River.  Ben had some work obligations that got us on the road kind of late, so we were driving like mad men trying to get to Holiday Expeditions headquarters before 8:00 to pick up our waterproof bags.  We rolled in just in the nick of time, got packed up and then headed to the KOA to spend the night.

We set up our tent at the KOA in all of about two minutes (we’ve had a bit of practice) and spent the rest of the evening socializing with my co-workers who are quite an entertaining bunch.  Then, we hit the hay early knowing we would have an early morning wake up call.

We piled in vans far too early the next morning and headed down to the river where we transferred to motor boats on the river.  The idea was that we would catch up to our rafts and guides who had left a day earlier.   Once we’d nearly caught up to the rafts, we took a quick hike to meet up with the boats and after some easy hiking for less than a half hour, we were all positively melting in the desert sun.  Normally Ben and I avoid red rock country until well after the nice cool fall weather has arrived and frankly I’d forgotten just how hot it gets!  I’ve never been so excited to plunge off of the sandy banks into the river.

Once we’d had our fun flipping off the riverbank, the rafts met up with us, and from there it was an easy float down the river to camp for the first night.  We made camp at the confluence between the Green and Colorado rivers which seemed like a fabulous idea until the afternoon wind set in. With gusts blowing at us from three different canyons, it seemed as if we would all be swept away by the gale that was also pelting us with sand.  Before long it had ripped everyone’s tent stakes out of the ground and our tents were rolling down the beach with our gear still inside.  We caught up to our tent, but not before the center pole snapped right in half, puncturing the vestibule of the tent as well as ripping the tent floor.  Behind us, dutch ovens blew right off their tables and bags full of stuff went skittering down the beach.  As the wind raged on, we did our best to simply collapse the tent and put it away, letting the ferocious wind do its thing without using our tent as a kite.

 

 

Soon, the wind died down and we happily ate an amazing meal created by our talented river guides right on the beach.  (As a side note, it was a bit depressing to have my lasagna upstaged by a couple dudes  cooking on a beach with supplies carried on a raft). We ate our fill chatted until well after sun down when we all headed back up to try to put the tents back up.  We repaired the tent pole and ignored the holes and the two inches of sand in the bottom of the tent and were nearly asleep when the wind showed back up.

We spread our bodies out against the tent wall in the dark of the night in order to keep it from another collapse and subsequent pole issues, all while I cursed the terrible wind.  There is seriously nothing I hate more than windy weather, especially if I happen to be sleeping in a canvas structure.  The windstorm kept up well into the night, and by morning, I was equal parts exhausted and sand blasted.  The grit was in my ears, up my nose, and plastered in my hair as well as embedded in absolutely everything we had packed with us.  I’ve never been so glad to get up and pack up the tent in the morning.

We might have been more miserable for lack of sleep, but the second day on the water was one rapid after another and we watched in amazement as our guides skillfully guided us through some crazy currents and big drops.  It was a beautiful, scorching day in the canyon and we were applying sunscreen every twenty minutes to protect our skin from the insane lack of shade.

 

That night, we camped against a lovely cliff face which provided us shade after one very hot day.  We ate, played games, took pictures, stargazed, and ultimately decided against setting up our tent at all, instead joining the group for a lovely night under the stars.

After a big breakfast, we hooked the rafts up to a motorboat and towed the big floating barge into Lake Powell where we loaded up and headed back to Green River.

Ben and I had planned to stay in Green River another night and perhaps do some hiking the next morning  in one of the local slot canyons but the oppressive heat convinced us otherwise.  We’ll be back to enjoy the desert once autumn has set in, but until then, we’ll be hiding in the shade.  Thanks again to Holiday Expeditions for an incredible long weekend on the river.

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