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 the take out, in Split Canyon .
But wildfire smoke had moved in overnight. It seemed like the whole West this summer was on fire.
Our boats got intermixed with other river groups floating down the river.
The wind blew another afternoon, making it especially hell for the rafters. And our last camp had little shade, an onslaught of mosquitoes and a resident fox that raided our garbage.
I was suddenly cranky and feeling desperate to get out of the smoke and heat and bugs and sun.
Plus dealing with our broken down truck still awaited us. As did the final packing of our gear in Durango, the saying goodbye to Cliff and Chayse, and then the long drive to Florida before our flight home to Nicaragua; Nicaragua, which was newly in political upheaval, and something I didn’t want to think about.
We got to the take-out, at the same time as did other groups, so the rangers assigned us to lane positions. Our Water Tribe was disbursed. And like at the put-in, chaos ensued.
Take-outs are depressing. This one in particular was no less so than any other.
We did have much to celebrate. We’d made it successfully down the Yampa River at low water. We had reconnected with our cherished Water Tribe, and christened new members into it.
We’d floated in solitude down one of the world’s most beautiful, free-flowing rivers. We’d camped, and even lit natural gas on fire, on secluded beaches. And we’d run Warm Springs without a mishap.
But sad questions lingered. When would we be with our Water Tribe again? Or with our son, for that matter? When would we next run a river?
And would we ever again have the Yampa all to ourselves? I seriously doubt it.
We are alive.
We are healthy.
We are adventurers.