In the tradition of writing posts about my adventures, I have titled my latest camping trip in the cheesiest manner possible. I don't suppose a canoeing trip that entails 3 coolers of beer as truly wild - but I like to think I was shirking the responsibilities usually associated with hygiene, food prep, and sleeping arrangements enough to feel as though I had stepped into a wild place.
After a calm Friday evening of packing, testing the tent in the kitchen, and a little grocery shopping the real adventure began around 6am on Saturday. We hit the road by 7:30ish and took 70 through the mountains. Although we were all a little grouchy and tired the caffeine and excitement kept us awake and singing through the 4 hour drive. Switching pilots about 3/4 of the way through helped too =) Michelle and I busied ourselves with stories about dancing and taking silly pictures.
Now that we were in the middle of bumblefuck Colorado, we were ready to go. We were shuttled up to a launch point of our choice, loaded up the gear and jumped into the canoes. Literally. The current was much stronger than we anticipated, there was a huge incline at the edge, and another camper had his huge freaking raft/boat tied up at the launch. So instead of calmly wading into the water it was more of a "jump in and try not to tip the canoe as it slams up against the raft". We succeeded in taking in about 5 gallons in our first three minutes. I have no idea how Michelle and David managed to stay dry. One quick stop with a dump fixed it quickly, and no gear was ruined.
One a communication system was set up we were good to go. Nothing like getting in a canoe with another person to learn your true nature - and theirs. I think Vinnie and I have enough Type A in us to not want to put up with any crap, so we worked it out after the first exciting "surprise you are are now paddling through rapids-around-a-curve" stretch. The only time we had to get out of the canoe in the first 13 miles was a stretch that was so low it was just pebbles and small rocks on the left of an island. It was either drag the loaded canoe for 5 minutes, or go over class 2 rapids. We decided on keeping our gear above the water and all in the boat. Good call. Wish I had some good water shoes. Keens or Chaco's?
The rest of day one was spent with our feet up, paddles in when needed, and soaking in the views.
Left: View from the co-pilot seat.
Right: Michelle and David keeping it real in the other canoe.
Fun things we saw along the way: Big Horned Sheep, an old bridge, ducks, and other campers.
Pic is super blurry but it's not like I took a $1000 camera on the canoe.
I just dig old bridges and buildings.
The campsite was found about an hour before dark. We set up the tents as the sun was setting, and then commenced the cooking and fire-making. Tons of driftwood lined the river so we had a great blaze in no time. Dinner was bratwurst, baked potatoes, fruit, and roasted marshmallows. The sunset was not much to scream about since it was behind a cliff wall, but after the sun disappeared, the beautiful outline as dusk set in was very satisfying. I spent a lot of time just looking around me in awe.
The sunrise was very peaceful and clear. I had forgotten that sleeping outside makes waking up very easy. Cue inspirational music and scripture verses floating across the screen.
Breakfast was eggs, bacon, bread/toast, avocado, fruit, and roasted marshmallows. I mean, we brought so many why waste them? A quick dip in the river was very, ahem, refreshing, and then I brushed my teeth with some Jim Beam. Feel the burn. I can't say that it was good for the breath, but my teeth felt pretty darn smooth. After packing up and frolicing around for a bit we took off for the second day - only 13 more miles to go. The launch went smoothly and it was much less intimidating that day 1.
There were certainly more rapids during the second leg, but they were all right away. The rest was just smooth sailing. Michelle and David spent a great deal of time laying down in their canoe, with it floating sideways. I think it was very representative of their chill personalities. Vinnie and I kept our canoe going the 'right' way most of the time. Taking turns at steering or watching for rapids we got into some deep conversations and a few arguments. Always a good time. Mostly though our excitement over being on the water was over, and we just were quiet, soaking in the landscape and beauty that surrounded us.
Describing it will never do it justice. Nor will the 100 pictures that I took. Just take my word for it. It was like I was in a different country. Different world. The colors were so vivid they almost hurt. The silence was so calming. Only wind, water, and a few bugs were all we could hear.
So, why did I do this? So many people have looked at me with complete surprise when I tell them I flew to Colorado to go camping. Why not? My life is open to whatever I decide I want to do. Options are endless. Adventure is optional. Living is not. I think that I am ready to be spontaneous as well as dependable. I am ready for the comfort of home, and to answer the call of the open road. I am so happy to have figured out what makes me happy - I only hope that for all of my friends.
You know what else makes me happy? My new Patagonia Refugio 28L day pack. Sigh....