Butt cold on the Colorado

gnwatts

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We originally were going to do this trip a week earlier, then I had the bright idea of changing our put in date so we could take Tex's Riverways last boat of the season on October 25th, something I have wanted to do. As our put in date on Saturday the 22nd loomed, things were not looking good weather wise. Saturday, our first day, was supposed to be warm and 75 degrees, but with sustained 20 mph winds with 40 mph gusts, with rain that night and through the next day.
Our trip down Meander Canyon a few weeks ago was warm and windy, but I was not really in the right shape, as my torn rotator cuff was still troublesome. This time I was in better shape, and I was using my new boat, a 15.5" Northstar Northwind solo. I had paddled it a couple of months before on a lake, so I had no idea how I would handle this new boat in difficult conditions. It is light and sits low in the water. How would it handle the guaranteed waves and wind I would have to paddle through? I was starting to think this trip was a bad idea. Plus, I was still testing positive with Covid, which I got 2 weeks before, with no symptoms in the last week. Kenny at Tex's thanked me for my candor about letting them know I was positive, he suggested I park at the put in at Potash and meet he and my partner Peter there. It turns out that Peter was the only one there who was going down Meander, so we had the River absolutely for ourselves, all 48 miles of it. As an aside, I tested negative the morning I left, but I still met them at Potash.
He dropped Peter off, and hung around for awhile. He had some suggestions about my strategy of loading my canoe, very helpful.

It was windy. We thought we would have a couple of hours of light winds at the beginning, that turned out to be incorrect. So, getting in my canoe I new this was the moment of truth. Turning into the wind I was immediately happy. The boat tracked straight, was very maneuverable, and best of all it did this with a strong headwind, with waves and white caps. This boat widens at the gunnel, to deflect water away because of how close the gunnel is to the water. It worked great. It kept a lot of water out of the boat.
So I knew my boat was up to it, I was not sure about me. As I said we had hoped to have a couple of hours of relatively calm winds to get some mileage, but it was a struggle for me from the start. When the wind is a sustained 20 mph, with frequent demoralizing 45 mph gusts, it is difficult in a canoe. Never the less we made some progress, but not much. It started to get windier with dark clouds around 4pm when we found a beautiful sand bar to camp. We had made 6 miles in 5 hours.

At the put in at Potash:

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That was it for the 1st day in terms of pictures. I had no desire to get my camera out. Rain, wind and dropping temps dampened our enthusiasm. Besides, steering my canoe in the wind was not compatible with taking photos.
The wind and rain really started up that night. I spent a lot of time holding the tent poles during the worsts gusts. The next morning began with calm winds, cloudy, but very beautiful. Cold too. In the low 40's.

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Within the first mile the wind and rain increased, it blew us into the willows, where we hung out for about 20 minutes before the wind calmed a bit:




When the wind died down all you could hear was the rain hitting the water and waterfalls everywhere, all around. It has been a long time since I have experienced this.



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I had on everything I brought: a layer of expedition weight long underwear top, fleece, down coat under a goretex shell, and goretex pants with fleece and long underwear.
The first couple of hours I felt fine, when I got a little cold I would paddle a little harder, but soon that was not working. Hypothermia was a concern, as I could not warm up, and I slowly started to shiver. We paddled 19 miles, and we were ready to camp. Like, right now. I started to feel a little warmer as the wind died down. I knew of the camp near Lathrop, where I was a month ago, which was coming up. I would normally have scoffed at the idea of camping there again, but it was looking pretty good. When we came into view, it sounded like a frat party going on, we saw about 5 boats up on the bank. Where did these people come from? They were the only people we had seen, they must have been there a few days. They asked us if we wanted a beer, we politely declined. What to do now? I knew of a ledge camp about 3 miles down from Lathrop. Another hour!
We arrived at the site, I had last been here in 2006 on our first canoe trip, with our 15 year old son. Many moons ago. A little nostalgic.

We moved everything up, and at that point we decided we were not going any further. We were done. It had cleared up, and tomorrow it was going to be clear, 55 degrees, and no wind. We were cold, most everything except our sleeping bags were wet. Brat's were cooking, some good rum, and then the fire. We had a 22 mile day, we were really happy.
Next morning:

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On a day hike:

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We were able to climb and up over to see the next turn in the river, just in time to see the jet boat returning to Potash.

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Up the side canyon behind our camp. Unfortunately I did not bring an extra battery, etc. My only shot of this exquisite canyon:


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The next morning after I got back to Carbondale:

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A great trip that I do not want to repeat.
Thanks for looking.
 

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Those photos with the dark clouds are something else-lots of atmosphere. And all that while recovering from covid. You're a much better man than I am. :) Gotta love the snow in Bonedale. Hope you have a nice fireplace or such at home.
 
Love it!!

I've had a couple of brushes with hypothermia on shoulder-season river trips and it's scary stuff.
 
Your photos are fantastic - I love seeing all the different skies you experienced. The dark clouds look great, although I realize it might have been intimidating to see them and wonder what was coming. (I would have felt intimidated.) Loved the red/brown waterfalls! Thanks for sharing.
 
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Great report! I love the shot with the canoe and the kayak on the shore in the sunlight with the dark clouds in the distance.
 
Love it!!

I've had a couple of brushes with hypothermia on shoulder-season river trips and it's scary stuff.
Despite spending winters skiing in the Alberta cold, the only 2 instances where I have seen borderline hypothermia in others were on a canoe trip and sea kayaking, both in sustained rainy weather that was not all that cold, just wet and windy.
Agree with all the other comments about the photos with the looming weather front- both beautiful and ominous at the same time.
 
Those photos with the dark clouds are something else-lots of atmosphere. And all that while recovering from covid. You're a much better man than I am. :) Gotta love the snow in Bonedale. Hope you have a nice fireplace or such at home.
Thanks @Rockskipper.
The only lingering part of covid for me was a little fatigue, but not that bad.
I wish we still had our wood stove, much better than standing in front of our gas heater.
And the snow was nice.

Love it!!

I've had a couple of brushes with hypothermia on shoulder-season river trips and it's scary stuff.

Thanks @regehr.
Sometimes I lose sight of how quickly you can get in trouble this time of year.

Your photos are fantastic - I love seeing all the different skies you experienced. The dark clouds look great, although I realize it might have been intimidating to see them and wonder what was coming. (I would have felt intimidated.) Loved the red/brown waterfalls! Thanks for sharing.

Thank you @Janice.

Whoa!!!! That looks so cold. Great photos as always Greg and the gloomy river B&W photo is awesome.
Thanks @Titans.

Great report! I love the shot with the canoe and the kayak on the shore in the sunlight with the dark clouds in the distance.
Thanks @scatman.
 
Despite spending winters skiing in the Alberta cold, the only 2 instances where I have seen borderline hypothermia in others were on a canoe trip and sea kayaking, both in sustained rainy weather that was not all that cold, just wet and windy.
Agree with all the other comments about the photos with the looming weather front- both beautiful and ominous at the same time.
Thanks @SteveR.
My Gore-Tex shell and pants are only a few years old, and are in good shape. But I have never been in conditions like this for such an extended period, not really moving a lot. I think my jacket and pants just could not keep up with the amount of moist cold air. Who knows. I learned a good lesson though.
Stick to September canoe trips.
 
Looks like a great trip, totally get not wanting to repeat it. I agree with everyone else, the day 2 clouds look intense. Thanks for sharing.
 
I feel like anything I say would just be echoing everyone else; great trip, not to be repeated, ominous weather, concern about hypothermia. I have been looking forward to your report because I've been curious about your new canoe. Thanks for discussing that. Looks intriguing. Thanks for posting your report.
 
Looks like a great trip, totally get not wanting to repeat it. I agree with everyone else, the day 2 clouds look intense. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks @wsp_scott

I feel like anything I say would just be echoing everyone else; great trip, not to be repeated, ominous weather, concern about hypothermia. I have been looking forward to your report because I've been curious about your new canoe. Thanks for discussing that. Looks intriguing. Thanks for posting your report.

It's a beautiful boat.
You don't want to get it sideways tho.....
 
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