The Death March

A late spring trip had been arranged. As the snow continued to falter it became apparent that not only was this winter going to be one of the worst we’ve had in the past twenty years (that’s impressive), but that the river wouldn’t have water. Somewhat important. So we pivoted from our pre-season Yampa trip and decided to do something on the water. A small group, of which I only knew one person, decided we’d go from Cisco to Moab. A decision I would soon come to regret, at least physically.

We load up and push off. Within a few minutes we arrive at a small riffle. This would prove to be the last piece of moving water we would see for the next four days.

Day two we row through more flat water. For the first several hours the most interesting wildlife we came across were a few cows.

As we passed by the historic Dewey Bridge and through Professor Canyon the old adage, “beware the spring winds” became the tagline for our lives. It blew, hard. We pulled for a few hours, making little to no progress, and ended up camping among the Tamarisk by Hittle Bottom.

Alright. Day three, shit got real, or so we thought. We pulled until the winds kicked up in the late morning. We pulled into Salt Lick, a wash on river right near Takeout Beach. There was a steep embankment, and nowhere to setup camp. We spent the rest of the day wandering into the Arches park boundaries and waiting to push off to make some miles when the sun set. We pushed off around 7pm and made a few miles, crashing on a sandbar where we thought we would be within striking distance of the Moab takeout.

Day Four. The definition of pain and suffering. We push off early, because we’re smart and we’re going to beat the wind. The winds returned around 8:30 in the morning and the river started flowing uphill. We pulled for another hour or two and eventually pulled over to hide from the wind and make some breakfast. We would spend the majority of the day hiding in a rock outcropping two miles above the ramp. Unable to make it across the last big flat section of river against the onslaught of wind. We pulled into the ramp at 6pm, bought a pizza, and went to sleep.

Made some friends, saw some river, and learned a valuable lesson. Beware the spring winds.

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