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Off the River and Into the Grand Gulch


Dear Friends and Family,

I’ve just returned from a week in the desert and spending some time with the group. When I last left them on the slickrock rim of Grand Gulch they were all in high spirits and ready to begin their next big multi-day backpacking trip.

Last week I hiked down a side canyon to meet the group at their last campsite on the San Juan River. They had all easily taken to life on the river and were thankful for the many large spreads of hot meals they were able to cook. As we settled into the sandy beach and rocky ledges of our campsite they shared stories with me of their journey down the river and laughed at debacles of learning to navigate their inflatable kayaks through rapids. We finished the night as instructors led us in a discussion of the significance of the San Juan River to the region and shared what we would all take away from our time there.

The next day was a long float out to the take out but through another spectacular corridor of sheer sandstone cliffs. The students all pitched in to help clean and pack up the gear and send off our river guides, Levi and Kay. The group swapped out their neoprene booties for hiking boots and the students instinctively got to work calculating and dividing up the backpacking rations I had brought them.

As of this writing they are now on day three of their eleven day backpacking trip up Grand Gulch. Grand Gulch is a massive canyon system that drains Cedar Mesa and Bears Ears National Monument. During their journey they will pass through many lush desert oasis and learn about the long past original inhabitants who left behind hundreds of archeological sites and rock art. The group will finish their trek on October 25th and continue to follow the river to their next stop at Lake Powell.