Day 5 Yampa River Trip
I was awake as the sky lightened, no alarm needed. I got up at 5.30 and made
coffee and hot cocoa for Cry and sara and finished some pre-packing chores until the agreed upon 6 am time when I could start the rousting. We all stepped up and started the stuffing and deflating and stuffing that is our routine on these outside adventures.
In short order we had the tent and gear packed up and down at raft. A cold breakfast of granola was enjoyable due to the homemade deliciousness and the warm temperatures as it never got below 60 in the night. Then the awkward questions ‘need to use the groover (river toilet - we have to pack out everything we pack in. Every - thing!)?’ Once we had confirmed that no one else needed it we started the boat loading (it’s one of the first things we need to pack and one of the last things everyone wants to use!) and we pushed off at 8 am, right on time.
As we pulled out of camp we quickly saw the large hole that flipped the raft the evening before, and it was a pretty significant curler wave with the current pushing us in to it. If we hadn’t seen the episode earlier, we might have easily fallen prey!
4 miles down to Echo park and we were in awe of the beauty of the Yampa and Green confluence with a large flat area with huge walls rising all above us. A very special place indeed. Time check: about 1 hour in it looked like we were in good shape to finish the 29 miles in a reasonable amount of time.
But we had miles to make and so we pushed on through a good stretch of flat water for 6 more miles and then the gradient picked up for the next 5 miles and then…. Calm flat water. For more miles than we cared, we rowed and ate and pushed through the doldrums and had lunch. Island Park is known for its slow water and wind as all yampa and gates of lodore trips pass through it. We were moving much slower and the weight of the miles and time wore heavy on me and clouds appeared to slowly build around us. Some wind, but nothing hard and sustained yet.
The main highlight was a bison petroglyph at river level - a very impressive work of art to say the least, that rivals the depth and feeling of any modern art!
A few more miles and we arrive at the island park boat ramp. With almost 20 miles behind us by 12.15 and a good gradient in front of us, we were in good shape. We had to negotiate 3 class 3 rapids but they were fun and straight forward especially since Scott had done this section before. One final wave train that soaked Crys and Sara right before we pulled up to the take out at 2 pm!
The usual flurry or unrigging, packing and cleaning while we contemplated the amazing luck we just had to float down one of the most beautiful rivers we have been on with near perfect weather and good lines through the rapids. To share that with Crys and Sara and the millers was something I will cherish my whole life.