Low-water Run of the Yampa River, Part 8: The Green River Ending

Dear Reader, The next morning we woke up, sad to leave Box Elder camp and even sadder to leave the Yampa River. In a few miles, the muddy-colored Yampa River would be flowing into the green-colored Green River and our solitude would be behind us. We’d made it through the Yampa’s shallows, only a day behind schedule. But we knew we could make up our time on the faster-moving Green. There was still Echo Park to visit and Jones Hole with its crystal clear stream. Whirlpool Canyon and the meandering braids of Island Park. And more fun whitewater right before …

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Low Water Run of the Yampa River, Part 7: Running Warm Springs Rapid

Dear Reader, Warm Springs is the biggest rapid on the river; a jumble of house-sized rocks that’d tumbled down off the rock walls, leaving fresh scars up above. At high water, the Class 4 rapid is scary with big holes and waves. The river races and crashes and turns back on itself as it gets constricted between the huge boulders. But at low water, the danger is different: It’s getting pinned on a rock without enough water to wash you and your boat over it. Arriving at Warm Springs On Day 4 we arrived at Warm Springs Rapid. We’d been …

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Low-water Run of the Yampa River, Part 6: The Art of River Camping

Dear Reader, Having the river all to ourselves was something to be cherished. And having such a slow float was a different type of treat. Crabby at Camp But by the time we got off the river, we were sun baked and tired. And we had chores still to do: boats to unload, gear to carry, kitchen and bathroom to set up, tents to erect, sleeping pads to inflate and dry clothes to change into. Tepee Camp was our first night. It’s a steep climb up from the shore. John and I were already cranky after a truck-breakdown night of …

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Low-water Run of the Yampa River, Part 5: The Art of Floating

Dear Reader, Once we got on the water (John and I each in an inflatable kayak and Cliff and Chayse running the raft) everything changed; the morning’s chaos washed away. The joy of floating The Joy of Floating We were floating. Self-contained. At one with the river and the currents and the breeze. Rocks and boulders slid beneath the shimmering water. Grasses swayed along the bank. We heard the smack of a beaver tail. Saw the flight of a heron. We moved slowly, and yet kept our eyes flashing left to right, up river and down, scanning for the shallows, …

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Low-water Run of the Yampa River, Part 4: Running Low Water

Dear Reader, The river gauge on the Yampa would have read between 1000 and 2000 cfs (cubic feet per second moving past the gauge) on a normal late-June day. On this particular day, though, it read half that much, at 600 cfs. And it was dropping. The Only Ones on the River We were the only group at the put-in. Everyone else, who we normally would’ve had to share the river with, had canceled or been scared away. Even the shuttle company we’d hired to drive our vehicles from the put-in, in Colorado, to the take-out in Utah, had told …

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Low-water Run of the Yampa River, Part 3: A Breakdown and a Put-In

Dear Reader, Our truck turned 200,000 miles, and in seeming celebration or revolt, it had its first ever major breakdown just an hour, of our 8-hr drive north from Cliff’s house, shy of the river put-in, in northern Colorado where our water tribe was waiting. The Breakdown The truck’s drive shaft completely fell off, in the middle of nowhere and as night quickly descended. Waiting for the tow trucks But most fortunately, as if the Gods, yes, wanted to mess with us but, no, not too badly, we broke down a few minutes before loosing cell service forever, and just …

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Low-water Run of the Yampa River, Part 2: Raising Cliff on Rivers

Dear Reader, Our son, Cliff, grew up running rivers, starting when he was a toddler. In Colorado, he’s run: The Yampa, at least six times but never this low. The Delores where, at the age of six, he had his first kiss in the bow of our raft when a cute, little girl asked him if he’d ever made out). The San Juan. The Colorado: Pump House to State Bridge a gazillion times as a young boy; Ruby-Horsethief; and Westwater. The Green: Ladore Canyon, and Flaming Gorge, where at the age of eight, he kayaked his first Class 3 rapids. …

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Low-water Run of the Yampa River, Part 1: The River and the Water Tribe

Dear Reader, Before we could leave Colorado, and actually even before we could finish storing everything at our son’s home in Durango and head home to Nicaragua, we had one last thing on our to-do list: To run the Yampa River with our beloved water tribe. The Yampa River The Yampa River is a high mountain and desert river which begins in the Rocky Mountains above our old home of Steamboat Springs. It runs westward and free through northern Colorado until it flows into the Green River at Echo Park, near the border of Colorado and Utah. The Yampa, as …

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Moving Day. Correction: Moving Years, Part 2

Dear Reader, The day after our son, Cliff, closed on the purchase of his townhouse in Durango, Colorado, the three of us (John, Cliff and I) were on the road again, making the six-hour drive north, up and over two precarious mountain passes, to our barn in Rangely, Colorado. It would take us four 12-hr round trips, one U-Haul trailer and one U-Haul van, to get all of our stuff out of the barn and down to Durango. And it would take us two months living with Cliff in his townhouse, to sort, sell, toss, pack and store it all. …

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Moving Day. Correction: Moving Years, Part 1

Dear Reader, Maybe you’ve seen the cartoon of a garage packed to the rafters with stuff. The garage door is open and in front of the garage, facing it, is an older gentleman with a walker, and a younger man. The caption reads “One day Son all this will be yours!” When John and I first saw the cartoon we laughed and then I thought to myself: “No, I do NOT want to do that to Cliff!” When we pass away, I don’t want Cliff to have to lift, move and wade through piles of crap before he happens upon …

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