The Colorado River whispers close by. I can not yet understand him, he is still a riddle to me. But I will listen and learn his language to maybe one day hear what he has to tell me. Tonight I am finally sleeping right by his side.
It is my first day on the river. 11 days ago I first heard him whisper, more faint than now, muffled by snow and ice, almost confused, unknowing, naive. That was up in the Rocky Mountains, where I started my trip and where the Colorado River is born from many little streams joining together to give him life.
On my way further down, there were times when I lost him. I was stuck in various tin boxes and my focus shifted. But I began to get to know him in a different way: hearing stories about him, told by his neighbors, friends and other people who care for him deeply. So many different people, but a uniting factor has always been the importance of that river and its water in their lives.
Laying here in my sleeping bag tonight, I realize, that for some reason, the Colorado River has always been masculine to me. And here, where I am now, he is still a little boy.
My arms are sore from paddling today. I can feel it as I lay here propped up on my elbows, trying to use my core muscles for stability, instead of my arms, while typing in a pretty uncomfortable position. I will have to find a solution for this… But it felt so good to finally really use my body again, that I dug into the water, as if I were paddling rapids, knowing that I could make use of my core more, but too excited to even think about the right position to paddle. But I am getting ahead of myself now… I’ll take you through my day, and how I ended up here.
Waking up at Kate and Bills house, my first thought is, how much I like those two and how it will be hard to say goodbye today. But then I think of finally getting out there and moving my body and I jump out of bed with joy. My morning Yoga session is a bit rushed today, I want to spend time with Bill and Kate, have breakfast together, play with TR and pet lady Emma.
Kate makes scrambled eggs on toast with Avocado, I couldn’t imagine anything better. Bill looks at me, and tells me again to give him a call when I need anything. „We care about you, you know?“ he says and there is so much heart in the way he says it, it almost makes me cry (here in my tent, writing this, it does). I think of my German countymen and -women and wonder why it seems to be such a problem for them to express their emotions. It strikes me here, time and again, to realize what an unemotional and self-contained society I live in over there.
Then they take me to the river. We meet river ranger Troy, an impressive white moustache decorates his friendly face. He’s another one of those people with the nature’s experience radiating around their persona. I set up my boat, as Kate, Bill and Troy, who haven’t seen each other in a while exchange the news, and TR and Emma dash around, full of excitement. When we got off the highway and onto the dirt road, leading to the boat ramp, Emma already got excited. She knows this usually means going on a trip. Labrador TR hasn’t been on a trip but he happily swims in the ice cold water and all his excitement promises he’ll be loving those trips too.
As I paddle around in the eddy, with Kate and Bill coaching me from the land, TR swims around my boat twice and if we didn’t tell him not to, he’d probably jump right on to check that out too.
Saying good bye to Bill and Kate is tough. Although I had wanted to, I now feel I can not get out of the boat to hug them again, afraid I would cry and make it all worse. Looking back, Kate waves and Bill just stands there looking upstream. When I loose them out of my sight I finally cry a little, German that I am… but then I dig into the water and I am beginning to feel light and content. I feel like Kate and Bill are not going to leave me and neither would I leave them. They are there, in my life now. And that is just so good. And I am happy and honored, because who better to be put on this river by then them.
The Colorado River is pretty calm on this section through Ruby Horsethief. It is at its best for me getting used to being on the water. Soon every ripple on the surface, every small wave creates a welcome little excitement. And still, I have enough time to just lie back, take in the sights, to breathe and feel and begin to arrive on the water of the Colorado River.
The pastel colors shine brighter today, as the sun is out. Every now and then I see eagles soaring above and I pass quite a few of their nests on the riversides trees. Along the banks of the river there are many young trees, it looks like they have been planted there, as they have a little protective fence around them. Ducks, usually in groups of three or four, float and fly, making noises that sound almost like dogs barking. Once I see an Otter, gracefully gliding into the water from the land. His color is the same orange like the mountains behind him.
Along the river, I collect the trash as I can get to. I don’t see very much, and it is probably due to a general consciousness and respect for the river, regular clean-ups and also the early time in the season. But once I spot a bright colored round shape. Thinking it is a children’s plastic ball, I a paddle there and try to pick up up out of the debris on the rivers bank. But it is heavy! Turning it around I find that is is a bowling ball. Seriously, a bowling ball! How did that get here? If I wasn’t so tired, I’d make up a story about it now… Anyways, I am here and have spottet the ball, so I am loading it into my boat, giving it some extra weight… might come in handy when the night is windy.
As I get to the site where I want to camp, the sun is still high. I only paddled for about 3.5 hours, but I can feel my arms are tired and I don’t want to wear them out in the first day.
I find a pretty place to set up my camp and then go to have my dinner by the riverside. Kieran’s Chicken Masala, made by Lilian at Trailfork is delicious. I watch the sun setting and the moment it is gone, it gets cold. Still, I decide not to set up my tent. I want to see the stars.
Waking up a few times, I look up into this bright shiny sky. I will not even make the effort to explain it, as it seems impossible and I am too tired anyways. It stays clear all through the night, only the wind picks up. It all feels right now. It was good to wait for this weather window to get on the river. Like Bill says: everything happens for a reason.