Day 6 - Cataract Canyon
|Thursday, May 23, 2019: It had rained all night long and showed no sign of stopping at 7:00 AM.
|We headed over to the shelter and made ourselves some hot chocolate to go in the brand new Western River Expeditions insulated drink holders that were set out on the table for us.
|Breakfast consisted of grapefruit, sliced ham, and French toast.
|Our tent was a wet, sandy mess.
|The tent had leaked where the rain tarp touched the tent sides, no matter how much we tried to fix it, and there was a river of water by the entrance. Every single garment in the tent was still wet from the day before. We regretted not having an extra copy of everything, including dry rain gear. So we put on what dry clothes we had, and topped it with our cold, wet gear.
|Our guides had decided that we'd stay in camp longer than usual, hoping that the weather might let up. They set up a sandwich-making bar and we made sandwiches for our lunch later on, since that was a better alternative than possibly having to set up for lunch in the rain.
|Our kayaking, camp-squatting friend from the night before kayaked by.
|Having given up on nice weather for our group photo, Nick took our official portrait in the rain under our shelter, saving it for the very last thing to be packed and loaded on the boat.
|Debbie took photos of our tripmates to share with them after the trip. Here are (l-r) Linda, Shawn, and Kate, ...
|... and Jess, John, and Chris.
|We were there too!
|We left camp at 9:30 AM. This time, we chose to ride on Nick's boat with the three women, since it wouldn't be fair to John and his family if they had to share a boat the whole trip and the other group of three people didn't. It also wouldn't be fair to us to feel like we were taking up space on the women's private boat, but that's how they chose to play it.
|Let's run some river. If we have to.
|We had three rapids to run, and run them we did. It was all over in less than 15 minutes, and the rest of our trip would be flat water again. But what little dry clothing we had was now freshly wet and would remain so the rest of the day.
|Nick did his best to remain cheerful despite the dismal conditions. He and Daniel were both excellent guides.
|An unidentified white bird flew by.
|We stayed in the front row and tried to dry our clothes by channeling the power of the freezing wind.
|We took a photo of our boatmates who were enjoying two rows of comfort with built-in backrests.
|We passed a rock formation that looked like a howling wolf, ...
|... so Tom helped us remember what it was called.
|Debbie didn't need her sunglasses, but they provided protection for the only exposed skin on her body from the biting wind.
|Meanwhile, Nick had gotten out sleeping bags for the ladies.
|About the only good thing about getting so much rain is that every little waterfall in the canyon was flowing.
|By now, we were officially in Lake Powell, even though it still looked very much like a river.
|Forty five minutes into our ride, the weather started to clear up.
|Around Mile 183, we spotted something on the water ahead of us.
|It's Kayak Dude! Daniel had a brief, pleasant conversation with him, and then we pressed on.
|We attempted to use the power of the sun to dry our watershoes.
|Our moods improved the longer the weather stayed nice.
|We passed Sheep Canyon on our left.
|The water in front of it ...
|... contained huge eddies.
|There's the view looking back into Sheep Canyon.
|Everyone was feeling great about the sunny weather.
|This waterfall was spectacular. We brought the boats around a little closer to get photos of it.
|The formation high up in the rocks there is called Piano Leg.
|He's helpful that way.
|The boats took turns being in the lead, which was nice. It gave us the opportunity to take photos without the other boat in the picture.
|The weather was starting to turn ugly again, ...
|... so Daniel and Nick decided to serve lunch quickly.
|Here are our lunches - a sandwich each.
|We wolfed them down quickly so we could take cover if needed.
|Fortunately, that particular storm cloud passed us by.
|Meanwhile, we were still seeing plenty of waterfalls.
|This canyon had a creek in it, ...
|... which led to the river, ...
|... where the red, muddy creek water left a distinct line in the river.
|We didn't know it yet, but we were just 12 minutes away from getting off of the river. The question was whether or not that dark weather ahead would cause us any difficulties.
|We spotted the Hite Crossing Bridge in the distance.
|It turned out to be the third and final bridge spanning the Colorado River in the state of Utah. We didn't cross it but we did float under it, so we can say that we saw all three.
|The boat ramp was up ahead on the right. Would we make it in time?
|So close. Almost there.
|At 11:52 AM, we reached land. At 11:53 AM, the skies unloaded on us.
|We had to unload our stuff and transfer it out of the tour-supplied bags in the pouring rain on wet mud, ...
|... then carry it all the way up the hill to the main road, because the bus couldn't take the risk of driving down to the ramp area in the mud. It was a miserable end to a soggy trip.
|Fifteen minutes later, we were settled on the bus with wet, muddy gear everywhere.
|Our camera was struggling to work at this point. Clogged with sand and water, the lens cover couldn't open without assistance.
|By 12:40 PM, we were on the road.
|A half hour later, we made a very welcome stop at Stan's Silver Eagle in Hanksville for bathrooms, changes of clothes, and all the snacks we could carry, because we were starving.
|The bus was a disgusting mess. We felt bad for Sandy, the friendly bus driver, who was going to have to clean it out once we got back.
|But we had a warm hot dog, Diet Cokes, potato chips, Hostess cupcakes, ...
|... an entire back row, cell phone service, and two more hours to dry off.
|Ten minutes later, we were back on the road.
|Hey, there's a Sinclair dinosaur statue!
|We took UT-24 north, past lots of pretty, interesting scenery. We got another look at this place two years later.
|Interesting. This mountain was near Goblin Valley State Park. We learned two years later that it is called Molly's Castle.
|Debbie's face was red for two reasons: her nose was red from her cold and her cheeks were red from windburn.
|Here's a cool unidentified rock formation.
|More cool scenery.
|There's Moab up ahead.
|We crossed the Colorado River two more times when our bus driver accidentally drove past the entrance to the hotel and we had to make a U-turn on Main Street.
|When we got to the hotel, we grabbed our gear and went directly to our rental car. We got out a suitcase and changed into some gloriously warm, dry, clean clothes in the front seat of the car.
|At 3:15 PM, we were on the road.
|We drove in and out of rainstorms for the next hour or so.
|We missed the Colorado sign, so this will have to do.
|This silo in Fruita, Colorado, has a fantastic painting of a dinosaur head on the side.
|It was nearly 5:00 PM when we arrived in Grand Junction again. This time, we took the business loop through town in search of fast food.
|With a belly full of Arby's, we continued on our way, following I-70 and the Colorado River once again.
|There's the dam we passed four days earlier.
|Here's a sign for a chain of marijuana dispensaries.
|Oooh, look at those pretty mountains.
|We saw a lovely rainbow as we neared Rifle, Colorado.
|We saw more metal animal sculptures in the roundabout in Rifle. This area does love its metal animals.
|We got to see a ONE trailer up close at the rest area.
|We started getting into the mountains.
|We saw the famous Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs.
|When we passed the Yampah Hot Springs sign, we realized that we need to come back to this part of the country and stay awhile.
|With the weather alternating between sun and low-hanging clouds, it made for interesting scenery.
|We followed a double-rainbow for a little while.
|We passed the Beaver Creek Ski Area, ...
|... and the snow started to come down.
|When we passed Vail a few minutes later, the snow was starting to get thick.
|Twenty minutes later, we were in the middle of a full-scale blizzard. We were in a tiny rental car with no snow chains, so it was a very stressful situation.
|It was after 8:30 PM when we passed Silverthorne where we saw the Burger King we had visited for lunch five days earlier.
|We had been diverted around the Eisenhower Tunnel on our way out, but this time, we got to drive through it. We enjoyed a few brief minutes of snow-free driving.
|As we drove the last hour through the mountains, Debbie watched a SpaceX launch on her phone for Tom.
|We made it to the Days Inn & Suites in Golden by 10:15 PM. Our poor rental car was covered with snow, but it sure was a champ.
|Look how clean and spacious this room is.
|Moments after this photo was taken, we covered every single hanger, towel bar, bathroom fixture, and flat surface with wet garments.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy