ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Many of the place names here in the southwest US come from the Jesuit explorers, who tended to the religious in their name choices. For example: the river they named the Dolores, which means Sorrows, as in Our Lady Of. The most sorrowful thing about the modern-day Dolores River is that it's been dammed to create McPhee Reservoir, the water of which goes to irrigate the alfalfa and bean fields of local farmers, and most of the year only a trickle of water flows through the beautiful and remote downstream canyons. So when the Dolores Water Conservancy District announced that the reservoir was full enough - and the inflow from snowmelt high enough - to do a recreational release for the first time since 2011, local boaters rejoiced.

We'd run two sections of the Dolores before: miles 47-97 (Slickrock to Bedrock) twice, most recently in 2008, and mile 141 to the confluence with the Colorado River, the Gateway run, in 2011. When we heard that the river would be boatable beginning the weekend of June 4th, we thought of doing Slickrock to Bedrock again, but we couldn't find anyone willing to join us other than right on the weekend, and we knew it would be crazy crowded then. (You need to have at least two vehicles to shuttle between put-in and take-out, and anyway, it's more fun to boat with friends.) But then on Monday, our friend Joe asked if we'd be interested in a day trip on Tuesday, in the Ponderosa Gorge section (miles 1-19), which we had never done. And so we got to see another part of the Dolores!

At the Bradfield Bridge put-in on the Dolores

Ponderosa Gorge is a beautiful canyon, walls of red sandstone contrasting with the dark green of pine and juniper. The grass grows lushly along the banks. No bugs, and few birds, but we did get dive-bombed by a succession of butterflies who must have thought our brightly-colored rafts some new gigantic species of flower before realizing their mistake and flying away, disappointed.

We hadn't brought our real camera, and the river was busy enough that I was reluctant to take out my phone-camera while underway, so I only have a few mediocre photos from some places where we stopped on the shore for breaks. The rapids were frequent but not very difficult, and so it was a great deal of fun and not too traumatic - at least, not for us. We did pass a group obviously drying out their gear on shore after one of their number, in an inflatable kayak, bumped a rock and tipped out. We passed a few other groups taking breaks on shore, or camping, as many of them were doing multi-day trips, taking out at Slickrock. But mostly we saw only each other -- and, of course, the butterflies.

In Ponderosa Canyon, Dolores River In Ponderosa Canyon, Dolores River

The sun beat down on us from a hot blue sky, but the river, fresh from the bottom of McPhee, was icy cold, so it was really very pleasant. Toward the end of the day the walls shaded us; they'd grown impressively tall and sheer as we had continued down the canyon, and of course this was where the hardest rapids were! But they turned out to be only a very little bit more challenging than the previous ones, and none of us had any difficulties. (Which was partly due to Britt, the most experienced among us, taking the lead. So much easier to navigate rapids when you have someone else to show you the best line!)

We pulled out at the ramp, disassembled our gear and loaded it onto our truck, shared our last beers, and headed home after a delightful day on the River That Flows Too Infrequently. No sorrows here, just a great day!
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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

March 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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