Drove to the small airport in Green River and piled our gear and ourselves into two small Cessnas. Our flight to Sand Wash was spectacular-following the Green River below, we passed buttes, mesas and canyons. In an 1869 expedition, John Wesley Powell wrote, "The canyon is very tortuous, the river rapid, and many lateral canyons enter on either side. Crags and tower shaped peaks are seen everywhere, and above them, long lines of broken cliffs. We are minded to call this the canyon of desolation."
We circled a mesa with what looked like a thin road down below--our airstrip and the start of our trip down Desolation Canyon! We hiked for two hours toward the river. Hot and thirsty, we finally reached our destination and our river guides, two young men and a woman.
Chris looked very preppy with a touch of wilderness about him, Bob looked like he had lived on the river all his life. The third guide was a woman by the name of "Kat." Strong, long blonde hair and very organized. I envy her and her job. The first part of the trip we spent laughing and admiring the tremendous wealth of detail in the sedimentary rock that lined the Green River. The water is smooth and we get excited as we pass a few riffles, knowing tomorrow and the next day will bring greater rapids. We bank for lunch on a sand bar near Rock House Canyon, filled with happy mosquitoes that their lunch has landed! We took a walk up into the canyon to view prehistoric petroglyphs of deer, bear and mountain sheep.
Back on the river, we were nearing
small rapids around the next bend. Our excitement is raised with quicker heart beats. First night camp is made at Cedar Ridge Canyon-trees and red layered cliffs give way to a deep blue sky. We hiked down the river, swam, fought mosquitoes and set up our tent. Our guides fixed us a great dinner of fresh trout, rice and vegetables, salad and brownies for desert. We all sat and watched the sun disappear behind the canyon walls, the moon came out and a thousand stars filled the sky.
Woke up last night to the light of the full moon coming up over the canyon walls. An eerie, yet beautiful sight as the moon lit up the river in a dim light of silver. I decide to take a walk and find I need no flashlight. The air is crisp and the solitude is spiritual-there is no noise except the lapping of the water against the sand. Morning brought another bright day with our guides working hard to prepare breakfast for us. Sausage
and blueberry pancakes, fresh fruit and yogurt! Decided to take my hand at going down the river in an inflatable kayak instead of the bigger boats. They call them "duckies!"
Stopped to see a large panel of petroglyphs before we headed into some rapids. I plan to take the kayak through the rest of the trip. We hike a trail to view a spot where
Butch Cassidy and Sundance hid out for awhile. I could almost see them cooking up some beans in the cave that brought shelter to them. How exciting! How remote! Found bones and a skull of some animal. Probably a deer.
Back to the river after lunch and more excitement. The river is moving faster, the water pushing against my small kayak paddle harder, the sun ablaze in the sky. I make it through the first rapid. I turn and find my friends coming through in their kayaks and the rest of them following in the bigger boats. I am full of energy and want to paddle on down the river to find the views and solitude-I want to keep going but it is getting late and time to make camp. We set up our tents on the beach leaving the mosquitoes behind but now sharing the river and the sand with a
group of obnoxious blackflies. We dine like we are at a fine restaurantand talk about the days experiences and laugh. There is a loud noise, almost like a train coming through the walls of the canyon. A rock slide! We witness part of this canyon growing. The moon comes out onto the river again and I fall asleep to the sounds of the crickets and the water.