Kayaking the Colorado River – Day one

5am alarm goes off. We need to get to Moab to meet up with the company that is transporting us to the river. Tag-a-long is a company that will tow you to the river for whatever drop off site you want and pick you up days later to return you to your truck. Kind of like a Taxi for kayakers/canoeists. We load up the kayaks onto the trailer and keep going over in our heads our list of packed gear trying to ensure that we have not forgot something. “We’ve definitely got the basics,” I think to myself. Tent, sleeping bags/pads, stove, dehydrated food, water, water purifier, toilet paper, first aid kit, paddles, and personal flotation devices (PFD’s). We basically planned to wear the same clothes for all 4 days since we don’t have room for more and we’re gonna stink the entire time anyway.

The drive to the river is only 22 miles and ends at the Potash (pronounced Pot-ash) boat ramp. We unload the boats and the driver leaves. Hubby and I are standing there, in the middle of nowhere, with no one around, and no transportation except for the kayaks laying on the ground. We joking ask each other “which way do we go?” We’ve never kayaked on a river so this is a first for us. In fact, we just bought the kayaks last March and have only been on 6 different lakes with them. I thought of a great quote that I got off of one of my friend’s FB post “If it scares you and excites you, you should do it.” Thanks Sweenus! I live by that quote now. And so off we went!


We moved from the side of the river into the middle not knowing what to expect. The flow was very minimal and it seemed more like kayaking on a lake. It was so quiet. All you could heard were our paddles entering the water and the echo on the canyon walls. As we moved down river, I rocked side to side in my boat to get more comfortable with maneuvering it. It was just like we had done on the lakes and I was realizing that there was nothing to fear. About 15 min into it, I was having a blast since my fears were now assuaged.


Our starting point was 47 miles above the confluence with the Green River and we were heading to Spanish Bottom which is about 3.5 miles below the confluence. We didn’t know how much we could paddle in a day so we cautiously estimated 13 miles for the first day. We could have done more but we were in no rush.


As the sun rose higher in the sky, we were unable to escape the heat and the burning feeling on our skin. Neither one of us are sun worshipers, in that, we like the sun but don’t care to stay out in it all day long. We both have fair skin and don’t tan very well. We stopped for lunch on a sandbar where there was only a small amount of shade from a tamarisk bush. I had the Mountain House Sweet and Sour Pork which was great and hubby had the Beef Stew. Eating hot meals made with boiling water on an extremely hot day in the desert was a challenge in itself. We got back on the water and knew that we had almost reached the 13 mile goal for the day. As we traveled, we kept our eyes peeled for areas that looked nice and shady for camping.


We eventually saw a little opening in the tamarisk that seemed shady so we made our way to the side and pulled our boats ashore. There was a small dark path with low hanging branches that led up an incline. Hubby said as usual that I should go first in case there were any wild hungry animals. And so I did. The path led up to a cave of sort that was cool and shady. We decided to set up camp and stay for the remainder of the day. We later found out that this is called the grotto and that musicians haul their instruments on boats to this location to play and hold concerts. http://www.moabmusicfest.org/calendar/grotto-concert-i for more information. This is located in the Canyonlands National Park for which we had a back-country camping permit to camp anywhere so we were allowed to stay there but it seems weird now looking back on it.


Since the heat of the day was still upon us we decided to jump in for a swim. The Colorado River is red in color due to the amount of silt and sediments that are built up along it’s journey. Basically, it looks muddy and we kept describing it as coffee with a lot of unstirred creamer in it. It does not look very nice to swim in but when you are this hot and dirty you’ll jump on in.

With my new found swimming skills I wanted to see if I could swim upriver. Ha ha. Hubby said that it looked like I was swimming in one of those pools that push water at you while you swim so you don’t move. I couldn’t gain an inch on the river.

We brought 2 luxury items; wine in a bag and a Kindle for reading. It was time for both. We sat along the river sipping on a cheap Merlot and reading more of the Desert Solitaire book that describes the area we were enjoying right down to the biting black flies and the unrelenting heat.

Dinner for me consisted of Chicken Cashew Curry made by Backpacker’s Pantry. If you like beans and rice that are crunchy due to them not fully re-hydrating then this meal is for you! Hubby was smarter and had the Spaghetti from Mountain House. He also ended up eating some of mine and I had some of the left over Sweet and Sour Pork from lunch. It had never cooled off in the foil bag so it was still good to go.

As we fell asleep in the grotto I could hear the bats with their sonar sounding, the night birds chirping, squirrels scurrying, and random noises like a twig snapping on the ground. We knew that if a storm came the grotto would turn into a waterfall and we’d be washed downwards to the river so I was nervous about the lightening overhead. Eventually, I just fell asleep and forgot about it all.


~ by willtriforbeer on September 7, 2013.

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