I sit by the river in the morning. My hands still cold from the wind, but my back being warmed by the morning sun that has just made its way up over the redstone cliff behind me. An airplane is humming far above, some ravens are croaking and every now and then a couple of ducks are barking on the river.
I am waiting for the sun to climb up high enough to hit my tent and all my gear. All of that still has a thin layer of ice on it. I trust the sun to warm and melt it in no time, so I won’t have to set up a wet tent tonight. Then I will pack up and get back on the river again.
Todays plan is only a short 11 miles down to the Westwater Ranger station, where I will set up camp for the night. The weather looks amazing now, a light-blue cloudless sky and the promising sun, but it is supposed to rain tonight, so I want to make sure to find a good camp and have it all set up before that.
Once I am on the river, only a few miles down, I reach a section, where the river winds through black rocks. They lie in the water like sleeping elephants and there is a very particular silence about this place. I can’t quite figure out why, but this place feels almost haunted, but in a very serene and beautiful way.
There are some little rapids here, and I get an idea how much fun this can be. I really hope to get the chance to learn some more about how I can safely do some bigger rapids (and how much of them this raft can take with the adequate skillet of the boatwoman).
When I get to Westwater Ranger Station, I see two pickup trucks parked out fron, so I assume there are rangers there. After tying my boat (“ALWAYS tie your boat” say Kate and Bill), I go to knock on the door, but no one answers. Looking up at the sky I a, certain it won’t take long for the weather to turn. I look around and see an open den, with a couple of chairs in it. It doesn’t look like it would be illegal to stay in there with this weather, so I take all my things in there and set up my camp.
Nothing much happens this afternoon. I watch the sheep on the pasture behind the house, I stretch and do some Yoga. There is no phone reception anywhere, so think it is as early as 7 pm when I get into my sleeping bag, listening to the wind rattle outside, and soon I begin to hear the first raindrops in the roof.
And boy, am I happy to have that roof. It is raining all night, sometimes pouring. I am pretty sure these amounts of water would have bent my tent over sideways. But I am glad for the desert, glad for the cottonwood trees, glad for the farmers, the wildlife and everyone around. It is a good winter and there is a chance it will be a good and wet spring for them too.