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Green River Chapter 4

Stillwater Canyon to Water Canyon

Zero day

The next morning, I knew I needed a rest day. A proper rest day. I would cash in and reap the benefit of having front-loaded the beginning of the trip with extra miles. My body was so tired. I was mentally exhausted, too. But the sandbar I was currently camped on was not great. It was quite exposed and would offer me no shade throughout the day. So I negotiated with myself and decided to paddle only until the next viable camping area.

To my luck, I only had to paddle about two miles before finding a complete gem. It was flanked by two tall canyon walls, which meant I'd have shade until late morning and then again in the early afternoon. It was on a relatively calm stretch of water which meant I could bathe, and it had a nice solid area about three feet above the water to pitch my tent on.

By 8:30a, I had camp totally set up and was getting ready to wash my hair. For the most part, my daily attire consisted of a bathing suit with a long-sleeve hooded sun shirt and lightweight sun pants. I would wear it and swim with it all day until I got into my tent, when I hung it in and on my tent to dry.

But I hadn't seen anyone in about three days now. My map showed no nearby trails. So I forewent even the bathing suit and gently waded to the middle of the river. It was still completely in the shade. I stood there with the water about mid thigh, looking upstream. There was a gentle breeze and the water swirled and made a light whirring noise as it went around my legs. I dropped my fingertips to the water and felt the current move through them. It felt cool and calm and relaxing. I closed my eyes and listened to the birds.

I proceeded to wash my hair. When I waded back to camp, I continued to sit in my chair as I was, and read for a while, still feeling the air, the approaching sun, and the occasional dragonfly on my skin.

My mind wandered and I eventually grabbed the map and began to reflect on the day previous.

I really did love this campsite, but the lure of what's around the next corner got the best of me so I ended-up only staying one night, despite not having many miles to go until the end.

You win some, you lose some

The next day I woke up with the sun, read for an hour or two, made breakfast and slowly packed up camp. The wind had picked up again, but wasn't nearly as bad as the "hard day." A few miles down, I came across a massive sandbar that looked like an interesting place to camp. It was a couple bends before Water Canyon and had gorgeous views in every direction. It was hot, so I set up the tent with the intention of hanging out in there until the sun dropped behind the canyon wall.

Almost immediately after I set up the tent, the wind became so intense that the tent stakes were blowing out of the ground, the tent poles were bending to hit me, the tent walls were caving in, and everything was becoming covered in fine sand. And I'm not talking a light dusting; I mean I was actually sweeping heaps of sand on the tent floor with my hands.

While laying on my back with outstretched arms and legs trying to keep my tent upright, I thought it might be best to pack up and find a site that's less exposed.

So in the middle of a desert hurricane, I packed everything back into and onto my boat and started paddling. I found a place that also wasn't ideal, but did have a band of willows I could tuck my tent against. It was an awkward, shallow sandbar in which I had to leave Big Blue far from the tent and dangerously close to water level. There were no trees, rocks, or willows near it for me to tether it to.


Again, the wind picked up and a storm rolled in. During a break in the rain, I ran out to Big Blue to get some snacks and noticed the wind was so strong it had actually moved the kayak! I tugged on it again to pull it further from the water, but I didn't sleep well that night, worried the rain would bring higher water levels and ultimately wash Big Blue downriver in the middle of the night.

It rained lightly/moderately for a long while... I spent a lot of time in the tent, but luckily Big Blue was still there in the morning :)

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