Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Warming to the chilly San Juan River

This might be the only river trip that we come back from the river with more ice than we left with.

I thought that on Saturday morning, after I awoke to a curtain of steam over the river, a furry coat of rime frost on all metallic objects, and a crust of ice in the water jugs.

But, at least it wasn't raining any longer. Or lightninging. Yet, anyway ...

For although the sky was mostly blue, to the west over Lime Ridge lurked a dark band of atmospheric murk. And when that had happened yesterday, after we put on at Sand Island, it didn't bode well.

But we survived. We pulled over when the lightning grew alarming -- I felt at that point that, regardless of the cold drizzle, I would most like to be standing anonymously overshadowed by a canyon wall. Then, once the lightning passed, banging upstream like a street gang, the rain persisted. So we decided to call it an early camp.

Good thing, because we'd kinda forgotten how early it grows dark in November.

This, as the above illustrates, was a, let's say, challenging Men's Trip. (See here for more on the Men's Trip.)

But: A most outstanding Men's Trip despite the early-winter weather.

Or, as a result of, perhaps ...

That's because our group committed early to just being one with (well, given this is a men's trip, five with) whatever the weather dispenses. To just ... abandoning to discomfort. To devoting ourselves to seeing what the San Juan is like in these conditions.

And that attitude -- combined with as much wool, pile, neoprene, and polypropylene as we could fit comfortably on our manly physiques -- made for a great, grand journey.

Then: Saturday night. The sky clears, revealing the full moon, bulging like El Cahone.

Then Sunday: Infinite blue over ruddy redrock and a silt-milky San Juan.

An amazing thing to see, to experience this place we're all so familiar with in such a fresh -- and refreshing -- state. And with a band of campeneros who get that attitude.

Most amazing, though, is that through it all, it was just us taking all this in. Because for the first time in my more-than-two-decades experience, the five or us were the only boaters on that entire stretch of the San Juan for the entire time.

I guess it's not for everybody. Or ... for most anybody, but us.

And that was the best part of all of this year's Men's Trip.
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