5-13-02: Day Four Day 4 of 45. First day into Lodore Canyon. First rapids tomorrow. Over 30 rapids tomorrow! Weather has finally broke. For two and a half days below Flaming Gorge we had just rain and cold. The weather has turned though and things in general have improved with that. Unable to grasp this whole thing with excitement for a few days, I now finally find myself settling into a comfort zone.
I’m definitely a bit uncomfortable about all the rapids that I’ll be running for the first time in the next few days but today has still been the most relaxing several hours I’ve had since launching days ago. New weather and some new company joining us has made it a little easier to settle in. there are six of us now. Anna, Mike, and Raf joined us this morning and will be with us for the next five days. I don’t think I could ever get sick of being around just Chris and Jen but it does seems nice here at first to have some new company. Once we finish Ladore it’ll be just the three of us again for almost 2 weeks so for now I’ll just try to appreciate the company of the newcomers as much as I can.
I go to sleep now facing tomorrow with much anxiety but it just feels so much healthier to be anxious about running some rapids rather than being anxious about the entire trip like I was a day ago. The nice thing about rapid anxiety is how instantly it goes away. Tomorrow afternoon as we pull off to camp for the night I will suddenly be relieved of all this anxiety that I’m feeling now. Slowly throughout the night I may build up some more anxiety about the rapids to follow the day after tomorrow but mostly this will depend on how things go tomorrow.
5-14-02: Day Five Well, we have found the Canyon of Ladore to be very small and not all that intimidating at this low level. Very small but still very technical in many spots. Fun day of rowing in and out and sometimes over rocks. Definitely put my arms, shoulders, back, and legs through a nice workout rowing today. “Hells Half Mile” is certainly still a very ferocious rapid at this low level. I ran a pretty near perfect run through most of the rapid but this was after watching Chris’ oar hit a rock and pop out of it’s lock just as he was about to go over the pour over on top. It looked for certain that he was going to hit the drop way too far to the left and way too sideways and then somehow at the last second the river just put his boat back to the right where it needed to be. He was able to straighten out (although backwards) with the one oar he still had locked in and then drop over the fall without incident. I could tell then that his line was pretty safe so I just tried to follow the same spot and was able to do so pretty easily using the more conventional method of keeping my oars in place and keeping my boat facing forward. After pushing and pulling like crazy to maneuver around the countless rocks below the big drop we were through what turned out to be the only extremely challenging rapid of the day.
I’m relieved to be done with this stretch of river but now already anxious and excited for more rapids. Sometime tomorrow we’ll pass the confluence of the Yampa so hopefully we’ll get some bigger waves and a different look to the river below there. If not I guess I’ll have to wait until Deso. In a few weeks to get my rapid fix. Regardless of what flow the river is at then I’ll be anxious and excited for the rapids because I’m going to be paddling my canoe from Sand Wash to Green River.
Well, it’s late – almost 12:30 am. A little drinking and a game of chess with Anna has kept me up but now it’s certainly time for some deep sleep.
5-15-02: Day Six Another day gone by on the river. 12 miles today. 70 so far for the trip. Each day a bit more comfortable than the one before. We have two more days with Anna, Raf, and Mike and then we’ll be back to just the three of us for awhile. It’s been nice having some new people along but I’m beginning to look forward to our long stretch of flat water next week along the Uinta Basin with just Chris, Jen, and I. I’ve really fallen into a mode of complete relaxation and comfort and I think this will be even easier to grasp on to and appreciate once we’re alone again. I envision slow lazy days of floating through the basin under the warm sun, interacting and thus interrupting each others thoughts only when absolutely necessary. 3 people with two boats means there will be stretches in which I’m alone on my boat floating slowly down river for entire days. The weather has warmed up a lot these last few days but it’s still been cool enough that I actually find myself looking forward to Utah summer. That is for searing sun and intense heat that just never seems to go away. I’m sure in a week or less I’ll be craving the weather we’ve had these past few days but for now I welcome each day to get a little warmer than the last.
Tonight we’re camping at “Jones Hole”. They say there’s good trout fishing in the small stream that heads up the canyon to the west but I’m waiting to try my luck in the morning. Just before dark though we did catch a few carp out of the river and decided that it was high time we actually tried one of these fish. I’ve caught about 30 carp in my life and never eaten one and now I know why. Actually it wasn’t so bad, just really bony and hard to clean and cook. Once we actually got it cooked and worked around the bone to some meat it was pretty tasty. A very mild fish – almost sweet.