When Cliff (my son) and I found our love for kayaking a couple of years ago, we started talking about how much we wanted to paddle the San Juan River in southern Utah. I have stood on the banks of that river many times and have always been amazed at the beauty of the water flowing through that red canyon country. It was just a dream, but we talked about it a lot. Then Cliff’s friend Mike started kayaking with us and he joined in our talks about how much fun it would be (even though he’s never been to Utah). Last spring we became more serious about this trip and our little group of potential participants had grown to six.
This is what we were dreaming about - the San Juan River
The San Juan River is a very popular river for rafting and kayaking. For that reason, the BLM only allows a limited number of people to launch their boats each day. You must have a permit and all permits are issued based on a lottery system. You have to submit an application in November for the following year with your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices for launch dates and the number of people in your group. They then notify you sometime in March if you received a launch date.
San Juan River
We finally decided we were going to stop talking about it and really go for it, and last November I submitted our application. In early March I received an email from the BLM congratulating me on receiving a permit, and we even drew our first choice for launch date on June 24th! Cliff, Mike and I will be meeting my sister, another friend, and one of our brothers-in-law in the southwest for our trip. We will spend three days on the San Juan River with each person carrying all of their own gear in their kayak and we'll be camping along the banks of the river at night. We will launch from Sand Island in Bluff, Utah and end our 27 mile trip at Mexican Hat, Utah. Along the way we will be stopping and doing some hiking also to see some of the ancient ruins located in the canyon.
After we get off the river we have a condominium rented in Moab where we’ll spend eight nights. There will be hiking, sightseeing and a couple of day paddles on the Colorado River while we’re in Moab.
I'm not sure what we were expecting when I submitted the application; maybe we were thinking we would never actually get that permit. After all, a girl at REI said she'd tried twice to get one and hadn't been able to draw dates that would work for her. With that in mind, we really hadn't done any planning. Then when we learned we actually got a permit, just a little over two months ago, we had to work quickly to get ready to go. It's been a little wild, but we finally have all the required items to get on the river (yes, the rangers inspect your equipment the morning of your launch). We have all of our reservations made for the nights when we're not on the river and have purchased all the maps of the area. I even had two kayaks (mine and Cliff's) sitting in my bedroom floor for a week while we gathered equipment, weighed, packed, arranged . . . It was a mess, but we finally got everything figured out. Having backpacked in the past helped a lot to keep all of our gear light and compact.
Now that we have everything ready to go, we're just enjoying kayaking around here as much as possible for the next four weeks, then it's off to Utah. We’re so excited and still a little shocked that we’re actually doing this. But life is short, and you gotta have fun!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. Happy Memorial Day to you all and thank you to all who are serving or have served our country.