My story "Escaping Desolation" - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-03-2016   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 204
My story "Escaping Desolation"

With all the excitement the "Lost Oar rig on San Miguel" tale is getting I thought I would post up my story from last fall on Deso/Grey. This was a hell of a story and my buddy Taylor, who is a photographer and writer, wrote up the tale and actually has sold a few of the pics. (You can see some of his pictures in the new Hyside catalog) Anyway, I thought it was a fun story that you might enjoy.

Link: Escaping Desolation — ReillyTravels

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Old 10-03-2016   #2
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 204
There we were, laughing at the top of our lungs about everything, and enjoying every second of rafting 91 miles on one of the most remote stretches of river in the country, the Green River through Desolation and Gray Canyons in Utah. Then it struck us and the laughing came to a halt. We were out of beer! It was day six of our seven-day voyage and our three man crew only had one six pack of pumpkin beer left in the cooler. Obviously times were desperate, we were floating through an expansive desert canyon in the middle of nowhere, and all we had was a flavor of beer that made unfiltered river water seem appealing. The mission was clear; we needed to find more beer. Somehow.

Just three weeks before my good friend Tres called me excited that he had just picked up a last minute permit for a rafting trip through Utah. He had just spent most of the summer rafting rivers all over the west and was trying to find friends to join him on one last trip before ski season began. It didn’t take long before Tres had convinced myself, and our long time friend Bobby to join him for a mid-October Green River trip. Our 3-man crew has all been friends for many years. Bobby and Tres had grown up together and I had met them both in college. Since then, we have taken many trips together and we had all gained a substantial amount of outdoor skills and experience. On top of skiing, climbing and backcountry hiking, Tres, our captain, has been piloting his raft on multiple big rivers across the country, for several years. Bobby grew up hunting and backpacking but now he spends most of his weekend’s mountain biking, and climbing. He has worked in the outdoor and action sports industries for years and he is extremely organized and motivated when it comes to any outdoor adventure. I myself have ample experience recreationally and professionally in the outdoors. I have been a climber for just about 20 years, I guided for 6, and I have been around water, rivers, and boats my entire life having grown up in Texas. While we all had various and ample outdoor experience, this would be the first big multi-day rafting trip for Bobby and I.

Our vessel was a 14ft raft with a 4 bay oar frame, and a pile of gear in the back so big that we could have been mistaken for a floating version of the Beverly Hillbillies. For a bit of relevant rafting knowledge: Rafts used for overnight trips use an aluminum frame that holds dry boxes, an ice chest and oar mounts/oars on either side. The captain rows the raft using two 10 foot oars while two passengers can either relax and drink or pitch in as “paddle assist” to help keep momentum through pushy rapids. This is how our 3-man 1-raft team was set up. We had just paddled out of Desolation Canyon the night before and into Gray Canyon earlier that morning, and the “take-out” for our trip was only 12 or more miles, or 1 day, downstream. The plan for this last night of our adventure was to camp just after “Rattle Snake” rapid (2+). First, though, we had to get some beer.

It was around noon and we hadn’t seen anyone on the river since the previous night, and being that it was off-season, we didn’t expect to see anyone from here on out. So imagine our surprise when we came around a large bend and found a group of people spread out over 5 rafts and some paddleboards. They seemed to be having as much fun as we were, and the rules of the river dictate that we had to strike up a conversation in search of a trade. When we found out they needed ice, we gave them two of our solid 5-10lb blocks for an 18 pack of Tecate. Success! They invited us to do a short day hike on the west side of the river just before Rattlesnake Rapid, but we decided to keep paddling and get to our camp, so we said our goodbyes and parted ways.

Heading downstream with a full case of Tecate to get us to the end of our trip, we started into Rattlesnake rapid. Leading into the rapid Tres suggested that Bobby should row this one. This was Bobby’s first big rafting trip and Tres thought it was his right of passage to captain the boat down a “named” rapid. After all, Bobby had put in his time working hard rowing miles of flat-water into headwinds in the days before, now it was his turn to try something a little more rewarding. I looked over and told Bobby to zip up his life jacket, all the way up to the top. He smiled, laughed, and thanked me. It would be his first Class 2+ rapid to paddle. This stretch of the Green River is in general very mild when it comes to rapid strength, especially during the fall. If anything, the river was shallow and slow most of the way. At this point we were all confident that the end of our trip was just around the bend.
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Old 10-03-2016   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 204
The Link I posted has the rest of the story and Pictures, and the text would just take up too much room on here. Since the writing of the story, we have become goof friends with the folks who have rescued us and we went on the Yampa and Westwater with some of them this year. Hope you enjoy
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Old 10-03-2016   #4
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ChroniclesofGnarnia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 4/20
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 211
Bahaha love a good shitshow story. glad y'all are safe and got the gear back 😆

Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
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Old 10-03-2016   #5
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Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 94
Great Story! Thank you for sharing
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Old 10-03-2016   #6
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 67
Yes, indeed. Great story. I know that wall well, and having seen it at multiple different water levels I know how deeply it is undercut. ---A sketchy place for a mishap.

But most of all, I was delighted by the determined spirit of the participants, and finally: the reward of the outcome.

Thanks for the telling.
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Old 10-03-2016   #7
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Up shites creek, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 920
Please tell me there are photos of the bunny costumes!?!
[email protected]$% 2016!!!
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Old 10-03-2016   #8
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 92
Originally Posted by yesimapirate View Post
Please tell me there are photos of the bunny costumes!?!
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Old 10-03-2016   #9
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Salem, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 210
Great story, thanks for sharing. Its a great testament to the spirit of the river community how easy it is to find help from other groups. Mind you, I would never count on that help, particularly in remote locations... but the stories never cease of other groups pitching in to help the unfortunate out in the wilderness.
"...and beyond; a far green country under a swift sunrise."
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Old 10-03-2016   #10
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,261
Agreed, the generosity described here is a testament to the people on our rivers. Thx for sharing!
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