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Tag: inflatable kayak

River of Sorrows: The Dolores River

Slick Rock Canyon | Big Gypsum Valley to Bedrock
Friday – Saturday, June 14-15, 2019

Early Spanish explorers called it El Rio de Nuestra Señora de Dolores, or the River of Our Lady of Sorrows translated into English. Today it’s known as the Dolores River, which begins as snowmelt high up in the San Juan Mountains near Bolam Pass and empties into the Colorado River in Utah after traveling through the canyon country of western Colorado. For a long time I have wanted to float the Dolores River through Slick Rock Canyon, which begins at Big Gypsum Valley and ends at Paradox Valley, but since the water of the river is usually siphoned off at the McPhee Reservoir upstream there is typically only a very short window of time to actually do it, if there is any opportunity at all! So far I had never been able to make the timing work for a trip, however, with the high snowpack in the San Juan Mountains this year it looked like I was finally going to be able to get my chance!

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The Chute of Muddy Creek

Tomsich Butte to Hidden Splendor
Friday – Saturday, June 7-8, 2019

With the big snowpack we’ve had this year and the cooler spring temperatures that delayed the snowmelt, now that it’s finally started to warm up I decided that I would try to take advantage of the higher flows this month and get out on some sections of rivers and creeks around me that have been on my to-do list for far too long. High up on that list is The Chute of Muddy Creek in the San Rafael Swell, so for the past couple of weeks I’ve been keeping an eye on the water level hoping for an opportunity to run it on a weekend. Since it looked like it might peak this weekend, which would be perfect timing for me, I decided to give it a try on Saturday. I asked my friend Chris if he wanted to go with me and he said he was in, so we decided to leave after work on Friday so we could get on the water early on Saturday morning. Last year I was able to hike through the Grand Gorge of the Muddy Creek just downstream from Hidden Splendor, so I was looking forward to exploring more of this beautiful area- this time by boat!

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River Flowing from the Sunrise: The San Juan

Friday – Monday, May 10-13, 2019

Over the years I have floated the San Juan River between Sand Island and Mexican Hat a couple of times with a small group of friends and we almost always have had a great time on this stretch of the river. I say ‘almost always‘ because the temperature was way too hot out during our last trip in 2017 and the water was moving very fast which turned out to be a bad combination for us. We ended up cutting that trip a day short and heading home early. After taking last year off for a Labyrinth Canyon trip, we decided to get a permit for the San Juan again this year to make up for that last trip. This year I was hoping for much better weather since we were going in May again, but I was still a little worried when we drove down to Bluff on Friday afternoon through rain storms and cold temperatures even though the forecast for the rest of the weekend was looking good. I certainly had my fingers crossed and hoped that the rainbow I saw as we drove over White Mesa was a good sign! And for anyone wondering, River Flowing from the Sunrise is a translation of the Ute name for the San Juan River, and I think it’s a pretty fitting one.

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Labyrinth Canyon: Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom

Thursday – Monday, September 20-24, 2018

I was pretty excited that it was finally time to get back on the river! I had been looking forward to this trip all summer since it’s been way too long since my last river trip and I was really missing floating through desert canyons. I’ve actually wanted to float this stretch of the Green River for a while now, and I was finally able to convince a few friends to go with me this year. I did most of the planning for this trip which would take us down about 45 miles of the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon from Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom. Even though it was a bad snow year in Colorado, the Wind Rivers had a pretty average snow year so the level of the Green River at 2,000cfs was pretty typical for this time of the year. There was originally supposed to be six of us in our group, but at the last minute my friend Jackson and his son had to drop out because his son got sick. This also changed our plans for the shuttle at the last minute since we wouldn’t need two vehicles at the end, so Chris ended up riding with me to Ruby Ranch after work while Steve and Nic would run the shuttle vehicle down to Mineral Bottom in the afternoon and we would all meet up in the evening.

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The Upper San Juan River Canyon

Sand Island to Mexican Hat
Friday – Monday, June 16-19, 2017

Hot!!! That’s the one word I would use to describe our most recent trip down the upper San Juan River. Even though I didn’t have much time off from work this summer because of our wedding and honeymoon in March, I was able to squeeze in a short river trip on the San Juan from Sand Island to Mexican Hat. While I have floated this stretch of the river a few times before (20132014), it’s still a favorite of mine and I certainly don’t mind repeating it. In the past our group has done this trip during the month of May and both times it turned out to be colder than we had expected, so this year we decided to try going in June for warmer weather, although I was a little concerned about how bad the bugs might be at this time of the year. Who knew that we would be going on this trip during a heat wave in the southwest when we got our permit?

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