FishSki in the Wild: Desolation and Gray Canyons

What: Rafting Trip
Stretch: Desolation/Gray Canyon
Where: Green River, Utah
Length: 88 miles
Crew: Bree, Brock, Shawn, John, Rob, Tania, Scott, Kelly, Alex, Zach, Steve, Vaughn
FishSki Highlight: Beach dinner of Red Chile Mac with hotdogs and coleslaw 

Desolation Canyon

This trip started as chaotic and stressful as you could imagine. 2pm the day before launch we decided not to go to Idaho for our Middle Fork of the Salmon River trip due to record high water levels. The quickly melting snowpack was causing river wide log jams and inspired group nightmares of loosing rafts in raging rapids. Good news, we had a backup permit: the San Juan. So we all switched out wetsuits for sun shirts and started driving. Just shortly after reaching our carpool location we get a call: the permit is only for three people. WHAT!? Ok, fine. Think, think... Rob and Shawn frantically searched for any permit and we miraculously pulled a last minute cancellation permit for Desolation and Gray Canyons. So 10pm the night before launch our group of eleven drove six hours to take a nap, shuttled cars for four hours, got one flat tire (fixed in eight minutes), set up all seven boats, and got ourselves on the river before sundown.

That evening we made it only as far as a mosquito infested campsite. As we tried to set up tents in the dark we found ourselves annoyingly buzzed from river beers, incredibly irritated by bugs, and extremely hangry.

Tania in mosquito net

Sounds terrible right?

Don't worry, we had a dynamite crew. Vaughn went around helping with tents while the Pro Chef Zach whipped up an awesome taco dinner. As for the mosquitos: as Alex said, "it gave us something to talk about".

The next day we woke refreshed and enjoyed a float down river including dreamlike views of a deep red canyon. The next days were full of rapids, side canyon hikes, fishing, and river fun. On night three at an idyllic beach amid a purple canyon, Rob and I cooked FishSki's Red Chile Mac, with hot dogs, and homemade slaw. The meal was very well received by all!

FishSki Red Chile Mac & Cheese with Hotdogs

The night activities consisted of not only great food, but we played rounds of Kanjam, Mafia, and even had an after hours political debate. Can you think of anything more fun? Well to us, we can't. This is vacation.

We found some real special spots on this river, including a  spring creek with refreshingly cold water that provided an opportunity for the fly fisherfolk to give their rods some exercise. Another highlight included our favorite campsite where we hiked to a point that overlooks a large rapid on the river. Our crew climbed the overlook just in time to watch the sun dip down below the canyon walls. As I watched the sunset, it was nice to reflect on how this adventure brought together a wonderful group of people in an breathtaking landscape.

Rafting Desolation Canyon

(Image courtesy of Shawn)

Five days later we arrived with a new skin layer of red dirt at the takeout. We took one last night to camp before hitting the road. As we sat and reflected, we all agreed, we wouldn't trade this trip for any other (even the Middle Fork).

If you're looking to float Desolation Canyon, here is more detail from the Bureau of Land Management