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Gates of Lodore, Green River, Colorado, July 19, 2001

May 6, 2007

Posted May 6, 2007

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In the summer of 2001 I decided to take myself and my children on a raft trip. A “real” rafting trip. Multi-night, way out in the middle of nowhere, thank god we are still alive type of adventure. Well, ok. Maybe not the last part : )

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. In addition, you can use this link to view a topo map of the Gates of Lodore/Green River campground where we launched the rafts. A Google Earth map can be found here (you may need to adjust the scale bar on the left side of the Google map). All links open a new browser window.

I’d like to add two comments about the photos for the trip. One, the majority of photos were taken by my daughter, Josie. She did an outstanding job of getting consistently great photos. Two, she used her own 35mm camera and I got digital scans from the place that developed the photos. While her printed photos turned out very nice, the quality of the scans do not match. So, please check out my gallery (listed above) to review the photos for the “best possible” quality. Starting in 2005 I have been using a digital camera which allows me to post photos of pretty high quality. But, still and all, these photos do a great job of showing what the trip was like (and are a heck of a lot better than nothing : )

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I’m very lucky to have been able to do outside “activities” with my children. This normally means hikes in the mountains near Fort Collins, CO. And, visiting various parks on trips to and from California where they live. We’ve been able to visit the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park this way. Since it’s close, we take quite a few trips to Rocky Mountain National Park. But, we had yet to take any real “back country” trips (foot, horse, etc.). Lots of reasons for that, but such is life. However, in 2001 that changed.

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It all started off (probably, since I can’t really remember) innocently enough. Most likely over a beer (or two) at a local pizza, pool, and beer hangout (CooperSmith in Fort Collins, CO; arguably the best pizza and beer in the world). I’m privilaged to know some real, live, experienced rafter/kayakers. Larry Metz is one of them.

Larry – “…..Well, why don’t you come rafting with us? It will be fun…………… No, really, this time we won’t almost die……….. Probably………… With a little luck….”

Geoff – “……I think the kids will be out this summer around that time……….”

Larry – “……..Great! Bring the kids. They’ll have a blast. Really……….”

Geoff – “……………………..Really?…………..”

Now, the thing is, I’ve seen pictures and heard stories of their (Larry and friends) raft trips. Good times, but maybe not something that you’d want to take your children on (particularly if you wanted their mom to let them come again). But, everyone was older now, so maybe they would be a little more “sedate”. I did go so far as to get some promises to that effect, and they were true to their word.

So, it was a go. Few minor details to take care of (like, going across country to pick the children up first), but everything seemed to click.

I had vacation time coming. Check.

I had enough funds. Check (credit cards : )

I was able to rent a large raft. Check.

I had lots of experience rafting. Ummmmm.

I was in good health. Well, not really, but……..

Anyway, it was a go.

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We had four rafts and around 10 people. It would be a 3-4 night trip down the Green River starting at the Gates of Lodore launch site. The “caravan” (we tried to keep within 100 miles of each other on the highways) started off by going up to Laramie, WY, across the Medicine Bow mountains to Walden, CO. And then from there over Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat Springs, CO.

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Once at Steamboat it was a straight westward shot to the rather large, ummm, “town” of Maybell, CO. At Maybell we stopped and attempted to let all the vehicles catch up.

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Maybell, CO was where we were going to jump off the highway and head northwest into the “Browns Park” region. This is a somewhat remote section of Colorado close to where the states of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah all connect. Better known as a hang out for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (and associates). After a slight adventure of trying to locate the campground next to the river, we woke up the next day with great weather to start off the trip.

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Most of the first day was NOT spent on the river, but rather consisted of 2 major activities:

1. Waiting for the shuttle crew to be flown back from where they left our vehicles (for us to have access to at the end of the trip).

2. Organizing all the gear that needed to go with us on the trip (who takes what) and then packing the rafts.

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I think we probably got on to the river about 3pm that afternoon. I have to admit the first few hours on the river were something of a learning experience for me and could have gone a little better, but we lived through it. It did help that the river’s water level was low this year, but that also meant we ended up hitting a lot of sections of the river where you had to pick your way around a lot of rocks. But eventually we ended up the day at a very nice campground.

The trip daily routine quickly became second nature. Get up after a good night’s sleep (very quiet), eat and pack the rafts, float down the river and enjoy the scenery, land at the next campsite for that night, eat and spend time around the fire, hit the sleeping bags for the night, and repeat.

That said, the “cycle” never got boring. There was always something new to see.

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Packing the rafts was done with a lot of good friendly help.

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I did mention the scenery, right?

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You could have friendly water fights with other groups floating past you : )

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And we were able to take a few hikes after camping and/or along the river.

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This one was along a tributary that was very cool and inviting on a hot day.

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These wild (?) goats seemed to like the area also.

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That said, I believe that at the end of the trip, everyone was looking forward to a hot shower and some clean sheets : )

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So, definitely a recommended trip. But, there are a few things to remember about doing a trip like this one. For one thing, many rivers require that you get a reserved set of dates (for a specific number of rafts). You need to plan in advance in order to get a place on the river (sometimes years in advance). That said, there are still a few rivers/lakes around that don’t require such types of reservations. But, you need to check that situation out during the planning stage.

Also, depending on the year, the time of year, and the river itself, the skills required to raft the river successfully (so, no one dies, etc.) can vary a lot. I would rate the section of river that we floated on as easy. At least for the volume of water that existed at the time. Anyway, experience (or, lack of) may be a deciding factor for a float trip. If in doubt, hire a guide.

Anyway, we had a great time and hope to do more.

– Geoff Weatherford

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Fred Scott permalink
    May 7, 2007 3:46 pm

    Hi! I always wanted to do that but never did took a houseboat up from Mead wonderfull trip.
    I did have sailboat a Macgregor 26X great trips on the northern coast of British Columbia.

  2. May 15, 2007 2:26 am

    Fred,

    Well, sounds like your trips easily trump mine : ) I’ve been on the inside passage to Alaska before, but only on a ferry (was fun though).
    I have thought about getting my own sailboat (a transportable of some sort) so I could take it down to Florida in the winter.
    Anyway, thanks for the comment.
    – GeoffW

  3. June 11, 2010 2:16 pm

    Looks like your doing a good job with this blog.

    • June 22, 2010 1:08 am

      Hey, thanks for stopping by. I need to post quite a few more trips. Still haven’t caught up with all the ones I did last year : )

      Geoff Weatherford

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