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.
- The Green: Desolation Gray Canyons and Stillwater.
- The Colorado: the Moab day run, and Cataract Canyon, where we spent a star-studded night cooking and sleeping right on our raft as it drifted and spun in circles down the final fifteen miles, where a full Lake Powell backed up into the canyon.
- The Colorado: The grandest canyon of all, of course, the mighty Grand Canyon.
- The Salmon: the Middle Fork, where stories of Velvet Falls had him so terrified the first time he ran it as a child that he cried; the Upper Main and the Lower Salmon.
- The Snake: Lower Hell’s Canyon.
- The Missouri: specifically The Missouri Breaks, with John in his single sea kayak and Cliff and I in a canoe.
- The Kongacut River: which flows into the Arctic Ocean and which we accessed by bush plane. There, on the 4th of July under the midnight sun, a nine-year-old Cliff stripped naked and ran with the thousands-strong migrating Porcupine-Caribou herd which streamed past our camp.
Cliff spent many an Easter morning hunting for plastic eggs on river banks littered with winter-dried leaves. And one chilly time he slid, hands full of eggs, and splashed in.
Then more recently, on summer weekends as a college student, Cliff rowed tourists through rapids on the Animas River in Durango.
But for his girlfriend, Chayse, a multi-day river trip with a bunch of crusty old river runners was going to be something new. We were excited about her initiation, into both river life and our tribe.
[Coming soon…Part 3: A Breakdown and a Put-In]