On the river: Stories that can’t be told
UTAH – River rats will do just about anything to get in on a coveted permit to run Westwater, a stretch of 11 rapids in Utah on the Colorado River.
So when I found out some guy friends had a permit, my brain immediately went into overdrive thinking about on how I could attach myself to the trip. The problem was that it was a bachelor party for my friend’s sister’s fiance. They didn’t want us girls going. Like they were going to get strippers on a four-day river trip or something.
After some convincing and threatening, they begrudgingly said OK. I figured they didn’t want us coming in case we blabbed to the bride-to-be about their antics. They didn’t even think about the fact that a reporter was going to be on the trip.
Being the ethical journalist I am and to save my own reputation, 99 percent of the trip will remain off the record.
Which leaves little that I can write about – I can’t write ALL things that happened but I can write about SOME things.
We put in at Loma on Friday, Aug. 28, and floated the Ruby-Horsethief section before running Westwater Monday. We brought along two crazy Floridian girls for support, one of whom had never been on a river trip. I’m pretty sure she also had never seen canyon walls, judging from the fact that she repeatedly yelled at them: “Hello, come out of your hole, give us your weed.”
That became the catch phrase over the weekend and garnered many, many laughs.
While many species of wildlife are typical sights in the canyon – Canada geese, great blue herons, eagles, peregrine falcons – one would never expect nearly a dozen wild turkeys to swoop down on a campsite full of a bunch of crazy people with several dogs.
But that is exactly what these dumb turkeys did. They landed in the middle of our camp and were immediately chased by the canines. One got cornered under a tree by Brock, a King Charles spaniel, who also was on his first river trip. The dog was called off eventually, and the turkey flew away. Brock set his sights on lizards for the rest of the trip.
The mellow float trip produced more carnage and eventful happenings than the rapids did. It was a successful run for all, although I froze at the beginning of a rapid called Staircase. I was simply in awe of the spill-over and didn’t put my paddle in the water. My partner barked at me, and I snapped out of it just in time to miss the big rock at the bottom.
And that’s about all I can say, or remember, about that trip.
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In 1895, the fad sweeping Aspen for women was to dye their hair red.