Just Back From: Moab, Utah
I should have known when I married a guy with deeply rooted seeds in both Cali and Utah that adventure would be part of my life. Add three boys to the mix and it would become inevitable. But. I still don’t think anything would have prepared me for a 3.5-day river rafting trip….and camping.
We were greeted by the most affable guide, ever. Brian from NAV-TEC (a company who specializes in adventure tours and just celebrated their 100 year Anniversary!) is everything you would a guide to be; friendly, knowledgeable and trustworthy. I think you can tell a lot by someone’s laugh—and with Brian you can tell everything, this guy leaves everything on the dance floor. He picked us up in Moab’s desert, the sky was clear and it was a toasty 104 degrees. He offered us the option of taking the main highway, or to go 4-wheeling, which the boys quickly decided upon. (I honestly didn’t know that 4 wheeling in a car was even an option.) So we started our journey through the Arches National Park, off-road style. He pointed out dinosaur prints and grabbed bushels of sage while we made our way through the hour-long bumpy ride. The boys were in heaven. As we approached a more well traveled area, we hiked the North and South Arches as well as Balancing Rock. The boys were quick and nimble following Brian anywhere he went. Before we started the camping part of the trip we decided to have one night of luxury at the Sorel River Ranch. The beds and sheets were divine. Upon entering the ranch, we knew we should have booked two nights there. Rookies.
Bright and early the next morning, Brian met us to make sure we had everything we needed before heading out to another hike at the Fiery Furnace. (The 3.5mile hike is no joke and requires you watch a video and obtain a permit before heading out.) There wasn’t too much in the way of wildlife, however, we did spot a few chameleons and he pointed out the rock in which 127 Hours was filmed. Perhaps not the most encouraging fact while hiking, we did find it interesting and suddenly the kids paid more attention. He also pointed out the canyon that Thelma and Louise drove their car off, at the end of the film!
Later that day, it was time to put the raft in the water and begin our journey through Cataract Canyon. They quickly loaded our belongings into dry bags. I had magazines, books, ONE bathing suit and I quickly realized how completely wrong I had packed for myself and the kids. The inflatable river raft for the 6 of us was packed like the Adventures of Huck Finn with dry bags, coolers and life preservers everywhere. On our first day, we tackled about 25 miles traveling at a medium speed. It became apparent to me that jumping into the murky waters of the CO River was inevitable as it was hot as blazes. We jumped off the boat and floated down the lazy river for miles on end. Much to my surprise, the river has a quick current and you would be shocked to know just how far you have floated. My kids compared floating down the river in a life preserver to floating in space in a spacesuit. It actually made a lot of sense as you didn’t really have much control, it was incredibly tranquil and there was no one else out there.
By around 7pm we reached our camp. Tents were already set up and dinner was waiting for us. When the sun went down at around 9pm, everyone attached their headlamps and we set out for an evening hike. Upon our return, Brian and his staff built a fire where they told stories about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as if they had been best friends. Brian had a story for every cowboy, canyon, rock and star possible. As the fire died down we went to sleep in our tents under those same majestic stars.
A beautiful breakfast was waiting for us in the morning and after a quick “dip” in the water, we were on our way. Most of the day was spent lollygagging on our way to the rapids. Stand Up Paddling, drifting downstream in the river and makeshift surfing made our 25 miles to the rapids fly by. About a mile before the first rapid, we suited up in raingear, helmets, and a safety talk. “No matter what, even if the boat capsizes, stay in the boat”, what? Did he actually just say that? 30 seconds before we started the skies turned grey and thunder started. (I swear this actually happened.) With that, all of the sudden my son Theo said, “I feel like we are in the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth!” Encouraging.
There are 30 rapids in all and we decided we would do 17 of them. Out of those first 17, six of them were Class V with names like; Satan’s Gut, The BellyButton, North Sea, and everyone’s favorite The Mother in Law. In the beginning, I was completely paralyzed with fear but with “Captain Insaneo” at the helm I did start having fun and felt safe. As we went through Rapid 17, we noticed a beach with our new camp for the night set up. By this time, the boys were living like Lord of the Flies, making me some version of Tinkerbell in the same bathing suit and tee shirt for days. With dinner, bocce ball, stories and games by the fire, 11pm was upon us and so was bed.
Our last day included lots more of the same. Stand Up Paddle, swimming and the newly added Cliff Jumping. Brian surprised us with a BBQ on the thinnest cliff you have ever seen. It was a Christmas Miracle the way he set up a grill 20 feet above the river in the middle of rocks, caves, and bugs. Burgers with toasted buns, a full fixings bar, and cold beers. It was 104 degrees and almost seemed like a mirage.
The 100-mile river rafting ended with the crisp blue waters of Lake Powell and a Kodiak ready to go to Jenny Lake Lodge where a very different journey awaits.
Kevin Jackson from Epic Journeys was essential in our planning. In case you want information on his company, feel free to contact me. I can also go in depth about more of the trip.