Summer Sunday: Rafting Ruby-Horsethief

Summer Sunday: Rafting Ruby-Horsethief

DSC_0025We’d been looking for a way to get on a rafting trip for a while. A raft, with its ample space for food and gear, seemed like the perfect way to get into the wilderness with kids. Enough space to carry everything we’d need. And the right mode of transportation for carrying such gear (i.e. not on our backs!).

So when some friends invited us along to raft the Ruby-Horsethief stretch of the Colorado River, outside of Fruita, Colorado, we jumped. The permits for campsites, we knew, were not easy to come by (our friend had reserved them three months in advance). Yet renting a raft, outfitted with coolers and a dry box was easy. We knew from a previous day trip along the Colorado that Rimrock Adventures, outside of Grand Junction, could provide such rafts. They’d even drag the boat down to the river’s banks—a plus when you’re busy managing kids and trying to condense a car’s worth of food and gear into a few dry bags!

DSC_0047The three-day trip started (not surprisingly!) with rain and a few thunderclaps. Yet despite the storm, the mood on the trip was jubilant. We had 10 adults, 9 kids, 4 rafts, 1 dog, 2 paddleboards, and enough food and booze to throw a fiesta every night and then some—how could we not have fun?

The best part about Ruby-Horsethief is that the paddling is mellow (Class 1/2), but the views and camping are spectacular. I am not a rafter, and my husband is barely one. By the end of the trip, though, we were comfortably navigating everything that section had to offer.

Our host set a perfect pace. We were on the river about three hours each day, which allowed plenty of time to deal with setting up and breaking down camp, to explore Ruby-Horsethief’s many side canyons and to jump into a few swimming holes (when the sun broke out on the last day).

DSC_0119My husband, Andy, an avid scientist, was beyond fired-up about the geology we saw on this trip. Sheer red sandstone canyon walls surrounded us almost the entire time. We saw everything from Entrada to Navajo layers (Moab rock) to Precambrian black granite (the same rocks that rests on the bottom of the Grand Canyon). The river is the perfect way to travel back in time and to begin to understand the many stories of the earth.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was that the kids got to be totally free. They surfed from raft to raft, navigated the rapids on paddleboards, and became sand and marshmallow clad monsters in camp.

DSC_0010 (1)Yet, their fun wasn’t at our expense. The adults had fun, swapping stories over the campfire at night, while the canyon walls, glowing in the light of the full moon, gathered around us like ancient dinosaurs. It was a trip where everyone got lost for a while, got away from their cars, their phones, their busy lives. Everyone got to simply be, with their kids, with each other, with those quiet canyons that have been around for millions of years and hopefully will be around for a few million more. It’s a trip that I hope to repeat many times in the future.

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