I flew into Sand Wash around 8 am on Saturday July 12th. I brought all of my gear, including five days of food and a little over 4 liters of water. The hike in to the river was only a couple of miles at most. After getting the all clear from the ranger, I headed down the river. I did not realize that sections of the river that had no rapids basically had the current of a lake. I paddled for about 2 miles before fortunately hooking up with a commerical group that had a motor for their three rafts. I ended up attaching my Alpaca to the side of one of the rafts, kind of like a little side car. They helped me get to Jack Creek Rapid (about mile 26), which is the start of the rapids and a steady current on the river.
They stopped at Jack Creek for the day, but I continued on for another 10 miles to a small island above Fretwater Falls. I’m glad I ended up bringing my tent (without the rain fly) because the bugs were ever-present. I set up my tent for the night on the sand bar and staked my boat out over the river with my throw rope. It was one of the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had outside when I didn’t have a sleeping pad (I did wake up at 2 am in a panic, thinking that my boat had floated away, other than that it was a good night).
I woke up early the next morning and got on the river at around 7:30 am. The river was flowing well and I made some really good time. None of the rapids were a big challenge, mostly just ride it straight down the tongue type of rapids. I passed up a number of other parties through-out the day, including a family on a nine-day trip, an archeological group, and a NOLS group. The rapids were mostly forgetful, but the scenery was amazing. Cow Slide, Three Fords, and Coal Creek were by far the best rapids, though. I’m glad I ended up scouting Coal Creek, because there was a fairly large hole along the main wave train.
I was planning on camping at Rattlesnake or Nefertiti Rapid, but there were groups there. By the time I passed Nefertiti, it was only about 5:30 pm, so I decided to continue on for as far as possible until it got dark. I ended up making it all the way to Swasey’s Beach by 6:40 pm. I decided to stop at Swasey’s instead of continuing down to Green River State Park (since most of that 12 miles is flat). I was able to hitch a ride a ride back to the airport with a guy that runs river shuttles on the Green and the Colorado). The whole trip was about 3 hiking miles, 84 river miles, and 2 days. It was such an awesome trip; absolutely beautiful.
I’ve posted pictures on my photo-sharing site: http://www.picasaweb.google.com/ColoradoPackrafter