It's day 4 of our marathon sprint 7 day trip. Ice has been forming on my gear all day long, a stiff headwind is stinging my face and it is 6pm and dark, we have been paddling for 9 hours. Strangely I'm enjoying myself, I feel fine with paddling for a few more hours, I've been so cold that its funny to me and I'm laughing as we crush mile after mile; is the grand supposed to be a suffer fest? Luckily I'm brought out of my focus for downstream progress by Ric yelling at me from a beach that I can barely see below a rapid. I get out of my boat and every piece of gear I have is frozen, luckily I had undone my lifejacket straps a half hour before camp when I could still manage to. I stripped off my frozen gear and got into my 5 layers of dry clothing, drank some hot chocolate, set up my tent and started a raging fire. We all cooked our meals, drank some choice alcoholic beverages, went on a cool random night side canyon scramble/climb, and went to sleep satisfied that we got as much out of the day as we could have anywhere.
Most nights of the trip were something similar to the above short story above. The canyon was the coldest it has been in 37 years, 7 days was WAY too short of a trip, it was as amazing as ever and fun as hell to paddle most of the big rapids in one 45 mile day (hance to blacktail). Our group of 4 was made of of people that have paddled some of the hardest whitewater in the world and yet everyone was having a great time, paddling our 200 lb boats down the river.
Self support trips are my favorite kind of kayaking trips, no loading/unloading rafts is so much nice. I have done the canyon 6 times now with half of those trips in the winter and every single trip is unique and memorable in its own way. This trip was a boys night out kind of trip that lasted a week, and was a great way to start off the 2016 season, I have never felt so strong in January before, but paddling 40 miles a day will do that. Enough of my babbling, I'll end with my top 5 pieces of gear to bring on a winter trip and some photos.
1) Thermos: great for hot drinks and soup
2) The warmest sleeping bag you have (Louis had a 30 degree and froze his ass off)
3) Arugula, it adds a little bit of roughage to the diet and goes great with tons of stuff, plus its pretty hearty and can stand up the cold temps)
4) Gatorade powder (you still have to hydrate in the desert in winter, it's hard to do with cold ass water)
5) Your crossover boat of choice, I took the wavesport ethos and loved it, we saw pyranha, jackson and liquid logic crossover's and everyone seemed please. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the dagger katana crossover boat as well!
The crew at the put-in, looks balmy? (Tom, Louis Geltman, Steve Arns, Ric Moxon)
Gotta love enjoying some fine local durango brew at redwall cavern, day 2
Lots of gear fit in that thing
Myself at lunch on the coldest day of the trip
Staying warm by the fire
fun class 3, grapevine (I think?)
Louis in hermit
Ric showing of his big water sea kayak form
A nice cave out of the wind
Ric soaking in pumpkin springs (nasty)
My favorite shot of the trip, Ric getting western in lava