Friday, May 28, 2010



The wind was still and we woke up to blue skies. What ever it was it moved on through and left the area, leaving behind a feeling of relief. No more rowing against the wind.

The sunlight was illuminating the walls up in Oljeto Canyon. So I gathered up the painting gear and started wandering up the canyon. I passed by some of the others sitting around the kitchen area of the camp, engaged in yet another topic about cognitive science. Once I got around a couple of bends in the narrow walled canyon, silence took over and the serenity of the morning became apparent. There I met Paul hiking back down from somewhere, he said that he got up early and just had to explore.

I asked him if he was heading back to join the others in conversation. Paul just looked at me and said “I can’t do that at this hour in the morning!” He followed me back up in search of a good subject matter to paint. After several more turns in the canyon, we found a spot where the sandstone wall was basking in the morning sun. I walked on a little farther and looked back; my foreground was filled with blues and purples of the river bed. It jumped out against the bright back ground orange rock.

It was a painting, so I set up the easel. Paul decided to sit and watch me in the cool of the morning shade. I think he had had enough of the cognitive research and was looking for any excuse to be out in the serenity of the canyon.

An hour past and we were soon joined by the rest of the group. One by one they found rocks to sit on and listened to the silence of the canyon, as I continued to paint. The only sound was that of a lone raven some where up on the canyon rim.

Steve finally broke the silence with the question, why can’t we all paint? Followed by Paul’s answer that most see a tree as a symbolic form from childhood and that’s as far as the development went. The rest joined in and soon it was back into the cognitive scientific explanations. I just tuned out of it all and continued to paint. At least it was giving me more time. They had talked about leaving at 11:00, but that was fifteen minutes ago.

At noon we finally had the boats all packed up and were ready for our final stretch through the sand bars to the take-out point at Clay Hills, seven and a half miles down river. And just in time, we noticed a group of six large rafts pulling up. They were filled with screaming eight graders, who had just graduated from a private school in Colorado. The noise level shot up a few decibels and we decided it was time to leave.

It was more or less just to follow the ripples in the water, as the current meandered from side to side. With no wind present it became fairly easy to see the main flow. We tried a few short cuts, after watching the current zigzag across the river then back again and figured it might work. In most cases Chang ended up being the designated mule, he had the most mass and would get out pushing the raft back into the channel. After three attempts at doing short cuts we finally figured it just wasn’t worth it. Besides the convention of screaming students were catching up in their bright blue rafts.

Most take-out spots along a rivers edge don’t offer much room and in some cases it can result in a little pushing and shoving to find a spot to pull in for the unloading process to begin. We had six large rafts closing up behind us; I knew there would be no room for us if they got there first. We were once again plowing ahead full steam. I looked back and smiled, they were out pushing the rafts. They tried one of our short cuts. Victory was ours!

We pulled in to the dusty Clay Hills boat ramp and began pulling gear off the boat and hauling it up to a single location off to the side. Rule number one was to always keep your gear together. Within fifteen minutes the chaos arrived. Their rafts were bouncing off each other, ropes flying and bodies jumping out into the water. The river guides offered their apologies and told us they would do their best to keep the carnage contained to their side. Within minutes the ground was covered in gear offering little room to walk. We managed to keep everything separated from the masses. The rafts were washed off with river water and rolled up for transport on the trailer.

An hour later we were packed up and started the two and a half hour drive back to Recapture Lodge in Bluff. We were all looking forward to a real shower and dinner in a real restaurant.

The next morning I was at the trailer with coffee in hand, getting out my coat, when I was asked about the river by a stranger. “How was it, I heard there was someone there that rapped a canoe around a rock in Government?”

Word travels fast!

Richard Boyer

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