Thursday, November 7, 2019

Blog #6: Steep Canyons

It was a beautiful day; the red canyons towered above us as we paddled in and out of the sunlight. We saw lots of fish and plant life in the clear water as we paddled along. We all camped under the stars (no tents that night) after a 30-kilometer day...

As the sun rose on the small town of Green River, Wyoming, we awoke on the baseball field we had arrived at late the night before. We ate our granola breakfast and reflected on the prior two and a half weeks. Then we set off on foot two miles into town to send and receive mail from the post office. While in town we met a woman named Olga, who gifted us a hearty meal in a Mexican restaurant! Olga sent us on our way with pockets loaded with chocolate bars for the journey.

Fin and Tristan paddle with conviction!

Back on the river, the winds were strong from the south-east. The flat water of the reservoir became oceanic, with large whitecaps that made it difficult to paddle! We pushed through and all together arrived at the 500-foot wall of Flaming Gorge Dam. Here we met some friendly folks from Texas who were fishing on the reservoir - and who were generous enough to let us use their ATV to portage around the dam! Loading many barrels and two canoes at a time, we finished moving all of our gear in 3 quick trips. After the transport, we got a tour of the dam. It was very thorough and informative - we even got to see the inside of the turbines deep inside the dam!

We're grateful that for assistance with a 500' vertical portage! 

Celebrating our accomplishment: making it to Flaming Gorge Dam

View from the top

Visiting the "belly of the beast"

That night, we camped near the dam and pushed off early the next morning. It was nice to be back on moving water again. We paddled through a few fun rapids and through one pretty serious one. Everyone made it through on canoe, showing the skillsets that we have learned since embarking on the river expedition.

The next day was warm and sunny. We paddled another 30k to the Colorado Border and sat on a beautiful mesa to catch up on academic work. The wind was strong at night, and we could see storm clouds on the horizon. As we approached the Gates of Lodore Canyon, it began to snow.

Zinnia and Callie

Spencer and Pele

Sarah and Rio

We camped beneath the towering gates. The chilling wind blew relentlessly. We stayed huddled in our academic tent, and spent an afternoon reading and writing. When morning arrived the snow flurries had subsided, but the brisk air turned our faces pink and numbed our fingers. The nighttime temperatures were hovering around zero degrees, proving to be our coldest yet. Although the park rangers gave us the go-ahead, we had another choice to consider: the cold. Taking a spill into the icy water that we know so well would take on very real danger. This canyon is one of red rocks, steep walls, and big drops, and holds many technical rapids.

The rock gates stood before us, inviting us in. But the final decision was made to shuttle around the 40 miles of Lodore Canyon to the calm waters on the other side. As we spent the next day away from the river, we continued to learn what it means to adapt to situations at hand and embrace what comes our way, knowing the value of time spent together as a community.

Snow on the water!

Nice and warm in the Academic Tent

Kai warms up by the fire - and cooks the catch of the day!

Liam and Ruby enjoying the fresh catch

Excitement fills the air as we look ahead. Pasha Belenky, an artist, teacher, and an experienced whitewater paddler will be joining us shortly. Down river awaiting us lies towering canyon walls and thundering rapids we all can't wait to paddle!

Spencer and Rio

Fin and Tristan studying

Callie and Elena examine cryptobiotic soil

Spencer at the museum

An artist's rendering

Maya in the Canyon

The group celebrates amidst a snowy landscape


  1. Nice to read from y'all! Beautiful register of the journey. Best wishes from Brazil

  2. beautiful humans. Sending all my love. Miss you callie. –simone


Blog #8: Meeting of Rock and River

PART I: CONFLUENCE On November 10th our group arrived at Green River State Park, where Kroka staff member Tricia Bennett joined us! We...