I don't know about you, but when pilots start asking about each passenger's weight, I lose confidence in air travel safety. Our pilot seemed confident and capable, though. Also, he was at least 55 years old, so I comforted myself with the (possibly faulty) assumption that he was experienced at not crashing and burning small aircraft.
The excited 500Jerk kids were stuffed in the back of the plane:
We were soon aloft over Utah's fascinating landscape. That's the Green River down there.
Then . . . we landed on top of a mesa. With no real runway! Exciting! After which we traveled down by foot to our put-in point.
Our guides from Holiday River Expeditions met us at the river with packed rafts. Raft camping is more like car camping than back-country camping. You can basically bring everything with you, including stoves, cast-iron cookware, tents, bano, and umbrellas. You do have to carry waterproof bags with your gear to and from the campsites, but hey, that's why we brought the kids. The guides took care of the rest.
And off we went. Our first of the five days was on a very placid stretch of the river, so we played in the water alot. We brought a little ducky along, and Boy Wonder got pretty good at moving it around the rafts.
Desolation Canyon had some fabulous campsites. This one, on a sandy beach near a bend in the rushing river, was my favorite.
Boy Wonder commenced to dig every night as soon as he was off the raft.
What? Digging is important business.
I can't say enough good things about our four raft guides. They were impressive people--hardy, strong, and bright. Our head guide, Rick, was super capable, laid-back, and a great conversationalist. Plus, he taught Boy Wonder to love rapids.
We rafted down the river four or five hours every day, with side trips and walks into the canyons. We saw an abandoned moonshine still. And traces of ancient Native Americans, who left these pictographs on the canyon walls.
On the third or fourth day, we stopped at an abandoned ranch site and ate apricots and mulberries out of the orchard. It was magical.
Our niece, Elizabeth, pulling her campsite together. Notice all the clothes hanging out on the sagebrush? Rafting is a wet business. Quick-dry clothes are essential.
Every morning, noon, and night our guides prepared fabulous meals, then--get this--they cleaned up everything! And would not accept our help! We had grilled fish with fresh mangoes; lasagna and salad; tacos; and steaks to order. In the morning, the coffee was hot, the fruit was fresh, and there were pancakes, french toast, omelets, and eggs. It was all freshly prepared, delicious, and in Miss M's words, COMPLETELY AWESOME.
But the best part was traveling through the canyons on a river. I wish I had more pictures to share of Desolation Canyon to show what it feels like to run a river. I'll hunt around and see if I can post some, so check back. All I can say is, river rafting through a wilderness area is life-altering. The fierce beauty of the river, the big sky, and the towering canyons all combine to remind you how beautiful nature is and how relatively short our time is to appreciate it. It was one of our best vacations ever, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.