Each of the last 4 years I’ve been attending a “guys only” canoe trip in August. This year, like the first year, we floated the section of the Colorado River between Fruita, Colorado and Westwater, Utah. In river miles it’s a pretty short trip. Roughly, 30 miles. Last time we took 3 days, 2 nights on the river, but the guys thought we could use a little more time to goof off and relax so, we extended the trip by a day and night. The BLM manages this section of the river and there are many designated camp sites. For better or worse the BLM now requires boaters to make campsite reservations before you go, if going on a weekend and may even charge fees next year. One thing I thought was odd was the change which no longer allows you to share campsites. The new rules are such that, two people could reserve a campsite which holds a max of 25 people while another group might not be able to go at all.
The river is quite busy on the weekends, so we started our float on Saturday morning and took out on Tuesday around noon. The campsites are decent, though access while unloading your canoe isn’t always easy. The river itself is pretty tame, especially this late in the year. This is the first guys trip where I used a canoe. For the previous three trips I used my Chesapeake Light Craft Mill Creek 13 kayak which I built several years ago, but in July I bought an Old Town Penobscot 17 vintage 1995. What a barge! But, it holds lots of gear and considering the guy front seat had never done this before it worked out well. When we entered the Black Rocks section we attempted to steer left of a large boulder, but we started our turn too late and the current pushed us to the right and between two very large boulders. We nearly clipped a boulder with the bow, and because of this he couldn’t get the paddle in the water. Then we went sideways through the rapid which was quite unsettling. Fortunately, we didn’t dip the gunnel because of the tall side of the Penobscot 17, and by the time we were past the boulders we had completed a 360 and only one piece of gear came off which we quickly retrieved.
The wildlife was good as we saw some river otters, bald eagles, lots of lizards and a herd of bighorn sheep.
Typically, it takes me a few days to get into the relaxing vacation feeling, but on this trip I got to “River Speed” the first day. I think it’s best to take this section of the river nice and slow.