Day 13. You’re gonna get wet out there, Kid.

Today will be a short post. I am tired and wet. When Troy first heard about my plans for these days he just said “You’re gonna get wet, Kid.” Troy was right.

He actually gave me a ride around Westwater Canyon this morning. What a fascinating character this Troy. He has been a River ranger for this District and the section ruby horsethief for over 25 year and he is the one who has planted hose cottonwood trees along the benches of the river.

He explained to me, that they used to grow here naturally, but ever since the river is dammed, and the water doesn’t occasionally naturally flood the surroundings anymore, they have been outgrown by invasive Tamarisk brushes. They had to introduce the Tamarisk beetle, a natural predator, which eats the green shoots, to prevent it from blooming. Because when the Tamarisk blooms, it produces loads of seedlings that get carried around. The problem with Tamarisk is, that it produces a lot of salt, that gets into the ground (and thus into the water). Then other invasive plants grow, that can in turn deal with the salinity. This outcompetes all the native species. So good ol’ Troy has been removing all of the Tamarisk from the river banks and has reintroduced the beautiful cottonwood trees.

Another thing Troy told me, is that the black rocks that I saw yesterday, are volcanic, and the mark an ancient Native American spiritual place. The water in that section is 60 to 80 feet (18 to 24 meters) deep. I find it incredible to imagine I was floating on this depth and maybe all of this explains why I had the feeling that place was haunted somehow.

However, after Troy has dropped me off at Cisco Landing, I finally get on the water in the rain. And that’s pretty much how it stays all day: rain from above, water below. At times I really enjoy it and I sing in the rain. And of course, the sights are spectacular, especially in this weather. Everything gets even more dramatic, the clouds make for a great backdrop, the formations in the rock show even more clearly and whenever I look up I feel strong and good to be out here. I could never call this “bad” weather. It is natural and beautiful and I am happy to be in the midst of it all.

But yes, after about five hours in the boat my butt starts to get cold. I haven’t moved my legs at all and the only thing I can think of to stay warm is… paddle. As it is my third day on the water, I feel I am getting a better idea of how this all works. And I enjoy it. And because there is no point in getting out of the boat to set up camp, I just keep on paddling all day. I end up passing Dewey Bridge and going all the 22,5 miles to Hittle Bottom campsite.

But that is why I will stop typing now and just go to sleep. Seems 7pm is my new favorite bedtime… It is dark and I am tired. Stars are hiding behind a thick cover of clouds tonight and I do the same. I hide from the rain under the roof of a little Picknick area at the (closed) campsite. Tomorrow I will get up early and just power on through to Moab. At least that is the plan.

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