Today I turned 40 years old on the Hayduke Route. As I mentioned before, the whole reason why I am doing the Hayduke Route is to celebrate my 4 decades of existence.
Well, the day started very intensely. I rained steadily for about two hours starting at 4 am. By 7:30 am sunrise, the rain had stopped and the sky cleared. At least that is what our slither of sky looked like from our view point down our canyon. Suddenly we saw an ominous cloud make its way towards us and unleash a powerful squall with torrents of water and winds up to 30mph. At that point we were preparing our packrafts for launching on the river. Looking at the river and approaching squall, I pretty much said, f_ck that; I’m not paddling in that on my 40th birthday. Luckily I still had my tarp up, so we all ran up to camp to hunker down under the tarp. After about 15 minutes, the squall finished unleashing it’s fury, waterfalls began pouring off the canyon rims, and the sky cleared up. But the winds persisted.
Yes, the winds persisted all day, and to top it off, they were 20-30 mph headwinds. What ever push the River current was giving us was essentially being cancelled by the headwinds. As a matter of fact, if we stopped paddling, the winds would push us upstream. Go figure. When we finally made it to the Confluence of the Green and Colorado River, we all thought the power of these two massive rivers would give us a positive push against the headwinds. Ha!! We were wrong. Water was no match for wind. Indeed the wind had the upper hand. Fortunately, we only had four miles to go before our takeout point. These last four miles were the toughest for Sonya, the wind was so strong, it started pushing her upstream towards the Green River. Dave had to tie a rope to her raft and tug her. We finally made it to camp at around 3:45pm and called it a day. Well, not quite. Although we were done paddling, we had some housekeeping to do. We essentially had to clean and dry our rafts and other gear in preparation for hauling all this gear nine miles up this side canyon to get back the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. 103 miles done today.