The float down Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River is famed as a leisurely flatwater float, but as we drove down into the desert from the Rockies last week, it was obvious that early-summer runoff was peaking and that our river experience was going to be an interesting one. But as it happened, a muscular high flow was only half of the challenge that faced us; Thursday dawned with a steady wind blowing across the desert, and the combination of the two made paddling anything but leisurely from the start. By the time we reached a suitable site for a first-night’s camp, we were all pretty wrung out and feeling the weight of five more days into the unknown. You could see the worry on the boys’ faces as they tried to make camp for the first time, the tents flapping wildly and threatening to rip out of their hands and sail into the river.
But a glorious thing happened as we slipped deeper into Labyrinth, the canyon deepening and getting more beautiful with every turn; we steadily redefined our comfort zones and let our worries slip away, drawing strength from each other and the energy and enthusiasm of our indefatigable guides. Not that the conditions changed all that much; on Day Four a sudden gust of wind caught Mr. Sadtler and Dev on the broadside with an audible “wop” and promptly capsized their canoe, sending the rest of us scurrying to effect a textbook rescue.
The river seemed to reward us on the last two days with calm conditions and cool, impossibly starry nights, and by the time we took out this morning no one was in a hurry to leave. There’s too much to say about a six-day expedition than can fit into a single post, so we’re going to ask the boys to contribute some short vignettes over the next couple of days. Stay tuned to this space for their posts!