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.
  • In Utah:
    • 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.
  • In Arizona:
    • The Colorado: The grandest canyon of all, of course, the mighty Grand Canyon.
  • In Idaho:
    • 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.
  • In Montana:
    • The Missouri: specifically The Missouri Breaks, with John in his single sea kayak and Cliff and I in a canoe.
  • In Alaska:
    • 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.

  • Years later, as a 20-year-old, while solo thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and needing to give his legs a break, he and his dad, who drove out for the occasion, canoed (or aqua-blazed, as the AT hikers call it) the Shenandoah River in Virginia.
  • 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]

    We’re healthy.

    We’re alive.

    We’re adventurers.

    Cheers, Susana


    1. Diane Arnold says:

      What a great childhood!

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