On the River: One last run " or not | AspenTimes.com

On the River: One last run " or not

Time was running out to get on the Colorado one final time before the desert weather would make the river unrunnable.

So on a recent rainy Saturday morning, two river-rat friends and I packed up the Suburban, hitched up the cata-raft on the trailer and headed for the Loma put-in. We planned to float down the Ruby Horsethief section and take out at Westwater. It was going to be our final river trip of the season.

I had voiced my concern about the weather, but my friend Alison said not to be afraid. I was hesitant because I wanted to stay in town and take in the fall colors on a day hike. But I do love the river, so I scrapped my in-town plans.

What a mistake that was.

The drive west looked promising. We were headed for blue skies and sunshine. As we hit Interstate 70 toward Grand Junction, the Suburban started bouncing around from high winds.

Not much was said as we kept heading for our destina­tion ” the City Market in Fruita to load up on junk food and lots of beer for the trip. When we exited the truck in the parking lot, I just about blew over. The wind was howling at least 45 mph, making paddling impossible.

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But in our excitement to get on the water, our judg­ment was clouded. We loaded up, spent a bunch of money at the grocery and liquor stores, and headed west. We figured that if we kept driving farther, the wind would die down, and we’d float the Moab section.

For more than an hour, we followed the river and watched the white-capped surface. We ultimately found ourselves in the windy city of Moab. Not only had the wind not died down ” it picked up. So we bellied up to the bar at Eddie McStiff’s and watched college football.

After a few 3.2 pints and some greasy bar food, we figured we’d better at least go camp at where we would have taken out so we’d be closer to home on Sunday. That damn wind never stopped, and we were forced to stay in the Suburban the entire night. No campfire. No tent. Just me, my two friends and two smelly Labs.

After five hours of playing 20 questions and con­suming several strong cocktails, I had enough and went to sleep upright leaning against the backseat window. When I awoke early the next morning, I made myself a campfire, read People magazine and stared at the river we never ran.

My last river trip has left a bad taste in my mouth, and it ain’t giardia.