Monday, August 31, 2015

verde river: day 2

Day 2 dawned absolutely gorgeous.
We had no way to measure air temperature, but can tell you that between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., it took a serious upturn. Workout time is calling!

If I remember right, the first part of the day went pretty well. The river seems to be flowing faster which means less rocks for me to stumble over. Photos are being taken through the water proof camera bag with wet gloved fingers operating the phone through this tough plastic. It is a miracle they are turning out at all! Sometimes they're turning out a little better than others.

Perhaps today was the day when Jari was nearly trampled. We had seen a few bulls running alongside the river. That was a surprise! I hadn't known there were cattle ranging out here. At one point, three of us had crossed a little rapid and Jari was bringing up the tail end. On the left side of the river stood a big beautiful bull with what was probably his mama. I think the calf was on the other side, but I'm not sure. Huge bull! He stood about 6 feet way from Jari, who was sitting very nicely in his kayak, and gave him a good stare down. Jari raised the only weapon he had ... his paddle ... and the bull decided not to mess with him.

Wouldn't that have been a tragic? Not the river beating you up, but a random bull in the middle of nowhere?! There isn't a lick of cell service out here. We haven't seen any other living human being. In the event of some kind of tragedy we do have access to help via channel 16. I'm sure we would have eventually found the radio that was packed somewhere in Jari's ship. Talk about a heart thumper!

Scenery is amazingly changing all the time. A small spot of red rock wall turns into something else.

Easily navigable rapids lead to calmer water and quick going.

This was the afternoon that I nearly cried. In and out of the kayak to walk around a spot that wasn't so pretty. The two things I had been most worried about before leaving weren't causing problems. Thank goodness! I sat with my left leg pointed straight out the entire time, giving the right leg room to fit where it might. Mind you there are days when sitting for an hour is a problem, so this system working for me was a cause for personal celebration. I did have some serious moments of frustration where I swore I was going on a diet so my kayak wouldn't be so heavy going over the rocks. Jari assured me it had nothing to do with weight. He may be right. My unmovable skags did a great job of rock catching. I did learn that if I leaned way back and got some weight off the bottom, sometimes the rocks were navigable. I don't remember what this was. It doesn't look bad from my couch, but we didn't walk things that we didn't need to. Trust me on this. Climbing in and out was not high on our list of favorite things to do. Often times, even if the water was navigable, the other side held dangerous kayak grabbers and tippers. We have many cherubs at home and we're not invincible 16 year olds anymore. Caution is our game plan.

Sometimes the river threw us a surprise. Rocks and trees suddenly reached out of nowhere and hurled a kayak on its side, dumping out the rider and filling the travel vessel with water. Keilah had bruises ... enough that she looked like an elderly patient on Coumadin rather than a young, healthy and vibrant woman! Between the kayak and the rocks .. she was collecting them all.

A stop for lunch and a rest. The last day Jari shared some of Dean and Keilah's lunch, but we never ran out of food. It may have been the next day, or perhaps this one, when we started dreaming about the greasiest burger possible!

We had ordered these handy little waterproof phone bags that hung on a cord around our necks. Phone at the ready to grab a photo where we could. Just in case an opportunity arose, I also had drivers licenses, debit cards and cash in mine. No Amazon shopping out here! They were really things that I had with me at the drop off point and would need when we got picked up. Keilah's bag held her phone and their wedding rings. The rings were causing blisters from paddling so they were plunked in the bag. At this point there was that horrified moment where she realized that the bag was gone. The clip had popped loose and the bag was gone with no idea when it was lost. Water moving at such a clip that it might be found by some other paddler several years down the road, but we weren't finding it. Mine fell off in front of me on Day 3. I saw it and was able to retrieve it. Don't trust those things!! Ever! Next time (I've already said yes to another trip!) I'll attach some kind of Velcro pocket to the inside of my life vest for safe and handy keeping.

Dean had also downloaded the river map to his phone and it was tucked somewhere safely. Another moment of  "Where's Waldo and where does Waldo need to travel?"

This day we planned a stop for dinner and then were going to paddle until it became unsafe to do so. That looked rather sketchy, because there really weren't too many camping spots along the river. Our goal is to hit Sheeps Bridge by noon tomorrow. That will leave us with 10 miles to the pickup spot. We stopped for dinner ... rice with chicken that heated real quick on our little propane stove. (There is an advantage to having gadgets and gizmos filling every inch of your living space!) I've only had one cup of coffee today. ONE!! I've cut down my coffee consumption in the past 6 months, but this is going above and beyond. It's a miracle that I'm not biting off someone's head yet!

We paddled until it wasn't safe to do so anymore and found a little spot of shore that wasn't rock filled. Just enough sand to put up our sleeping shelters, fix me some coffee and take a bath! If we're out camping, we typically just come home smelling like something that ought to be tossed in the trash bin and head for the shower. It was warm out, the water was warm (if not a little dirty), the stars were bright, we were beyond grimy and the river hollered our names. When I had gunky water stuck in my ear, I all of a sudden had horrifying visions of encephalitis, but it had to be the most refreshing river dunk I've ever experienced.

Tents were set up, lavender oil applied to developing blisters, dry clothes on and wet ones hung to dry. Time to get some sleep and scour up energy for Day 3!

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