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    Badfish Blog — selfsupport

    5 Friends, 5 Days, & 166.5 Miles - Green River To Hite

    5 Friends, 5 Days, & 166.5 Miles - Green River To Hite

    - Written by Mike Tavares

    The idea had been rolling around my head for a couple years now. It’s pretty simple and has been done countless times through the ages by all sorts of river runners in various crafts. Paddle from Green River, Utah down to the confluence of the Colorado and through Cataract Canyon into Lake Powell. The only difference is that I've always wanted to do this section self supported on an SUP and in 5 days. Is it a record? Is it the first time anyone has done that entire section on a SUP without a raft support or a motor? Perhaps…but that wasn’t the point. The point was to push ourselves down the river on SUP’s as fast as we could through one of the most beautiful and mind bending canyons in the southwest!

    For some strange reason, perhaps it’s to inflict as much mental and physical pain as I can on my “vacations,” but I always want to go as fast as possible and be on the water the entire day pushing myself to the brink of failure and that’s exactly what we did down the Green and Colorado rivers. 166.5 miles in 5 days doesn’t sound like much, but at a 33 mile per day average, plus the typical elements involved in any Southwest river trip (headwind, rain, no current) it can seem like a daunting task. Paddling that kind of mileage also typically means no side hikes, paddling sun up to sun down, and passing the most epic camp spots only to find yourself bushwhacking in the dark for anywhere to sleep. But at the end, its completely worth the physical and mental challenge of being on the water paddling for 11 hours a day!

    Roughly a month before the trip launched on the Green River, the crew committed and the rest is history..

    The Crew - Badfish SUP

    Zack Hughes Mike Harvey Mike Tavares Guillermo Loria Bradley Hilton

    The Gear

    Badfish Selfie 14 Watershed Drybags Astral Footwear & PFD's Werner Paddles

    Day 1

    After meeting the prior night in the iconic southwest town of Green River, Utah, we awoke early and rigged our boards at first light at the Green River Boat Launch. Paddling away from any boat ramp and embarking on a self-support trip is one of the most exciting moments in my opinion. The day to day worries and the hustle of life seem to wash away in an instant and the only thing you have left to do is paddle, eat, and sleep. The simplicity of paddling trips is one of the best feelings as a paddler and originally why I wanted to pursue wilderness trips. Bringing life back to the basics even if it's for 5 days at a time.

    As we paddled away from Green River, small class I rapids greeted us for the first 5 miles and then we settled into the flat, slow moving current for the rest of our 36 mile day. About 1pm we felt the first gusts of the classic Green River headwinds. We put our heads down and ground out the last 15 miles for a 9 hour day of constant paddling only stopping a couple times for snacks and stretching.

    On our way to camp we passed a number of named ranches, natural features, canoeists loaded down to the gills, and we started to feel the canyon walls carving deeper into the desert strata. We settled on a protected camp up on the river left bank in scrub oaks for protection and discovered dozens of rock inscriptions from past river runners starting back in the early 1900’s.

    Day 2

    We started early with the sun bouncing off red rock canyon walls and optimistic thoughts of no wind and easy paddling all day in the sun. We launched with favorable light winds but were quickly greeted with typical SW direction desert headwinds around 11 am. We quickly agreed that we were in for a serious beatdown most of the day and hunkered in for a beating that would last almost 11 hours on the water that day.

    One of the most memorable moments of the day was after a 4 mile straight away into the wind and discovering a 3 mile section of tailwind. Without saying a word for almost the entire 3 miles, all 5 of us sat down on our boards and enjoyed the next 30 minutes of effortless travel in the right direction. We got a much deserved break before the next 4 hours of destruction into the wind.

    After passing Mineral bottom on river left at about mile 32 for the day, we entered the Canyonlands National Park section. We spend the next 1.5 hours paddling another 5 miles before settling on a “suitable” camp for the night on a small sliver of wet sandbar. We ate, drank, and fell asleep under the dark desert landscape dreaming for an easy day on the horizon.

    Day 3

    Day 3 started off much the same way as the previous…a teaser of light winds in the morning, only to find that we were pretty much hosed for the rest of the day. We spent the day paddling into headwinds and weaving from side to side to find wind breaks in the willows that have now taken over the banks of the Green. We spent about 9.5 hours getting closer to the heart of Canyonlands Confluence and were greeted with a few small rapids here and there as we neared closer to the end of the Green River.

    Close to dark, we settled on one of the best camps of the trip…a sand bar island 14 miles from the confluence surrounded by dark canyon walls deep in the depths of Canyonlands National Park. Winds began to pick up at dark as the thermals ripped through the canyons to equalize pressure. Without skipping a beat, we all disappeared into our bags and weathered the sand storm through the night.

    Day 4

    This was the day we had all been waiting for. A morning of flatwater to the confluence of the Colorado River followed by 15 miles of class III-IV whitewater through Cataract Canyon. We eagerly awaited current, whitewater, and the unknown of paddling a 14ft fully loaded boards through some rather large rapids.

    Don't want to read anymore...Watch the Video!

    We pounded out 14 miles to the confluence at a rather fast pace since we could almost feel the whitewater looming around the corner. We snapped a few pictures at the Confluence and quickly paddled down to the last eddy above Cataract Canyon.

    We took a quick break above the whitewater to tighten up our bags, shift some weight around, and gear up with PFD’s and full river attire. We then shoved off into what was one of the more memorable river sections of my life for the next 15 miles of iconic Colorado River Whitewater.

    90% of the rapids were straight forward, shooting more or less down the middle from top to bottom hitting and dodging 6ft standing waves and the occasional ledge hole. The weight of the fully loaded Badfish Selfies literally knifed through just about anything with speed and accuracy. If you planned your line right, you would effortlessly bomb through enormous waves without any stress, but if you were off line or sideways, it was another story. Muscling the boards around took determination and patience amidst the chaos and it was a delightful challenge after 3.5 days of mindless flatwater.

    Getting to the inner heart of Cataract, we knew that there were a few hard rapids looming ahead. We picked our way down a couple stopping to scout here and there and had huge success with the occasional explosion…each time climbing back atop our boards and continuing on. We laughed, smiled, and snaked our way down the gorge till we came to Big Drop 3.

    We knew this would be the crux and after scouting from river left, we decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of getting hurt after a full day of successful river running. At high water, the rapid cleans up, but at lower flows (we had ~7,000cfs) there are numerous pitfalls, sharp rocks, and pin spots for a 14ft SUP. After a fun and easy portage on enormous boulders, we bumbled our way to the bottom of the canyon as signs of Lake Powell started to litter the banks…or so we thought.

    We found a happy and generous rafting crew at the bottom of the canyon, had a quick beer while exchanging river stories, took off our whitewater gear, and set off to find camp roughly 5 miles into the flats of the looming deadwater of Lake Powell downstream. Little did we know that this “no PFD zone” which typically marks the end of the whitewater had been re sculpted this year with high river flows and low lake levels.

    After paddling another ¼ mile past the tasty PBR break, we scurried to the bank and saw a flurry of large rapids downstream. We laughed and joked while putting our whitewater gear back on and set off on another 5 miles of unbelievable classic Colorado whitewater. Tearing through the sediment filled banks of what was once slack water on Lake Powell, the Colorado river regained some of its natural awe and we enjoyed every last drop of whitewater until dark. We settled on a sketchy sandbar camp with rock fall close by for our last night under the dark and starry skies of the Utah desert.

    Cataract Canyon was by far the highlight of the 5 day trip. As whitewater paddlers, doing something totally fresh and out of our comfort level is what most of us live for. Paddling fully loaded 14ft boards was exactly that and while we sat in camp waiting for our Jet Boils to deliver another tasty prepackaged meal, there was nothing but smiles. We told elaborate recaps from the day and reveled in the fact that this was truly a magical moment in the life of a paddler.

    Day 5

    Awaking to the sounds of heavy rock falls in the middle night is unnerving to say the least, especially when you wake up and see a dust cloud about 50 yards from your head. The lower Colorado seems to feature loose and more crumbly rock, especially where the lake level seeps into the vertical rock walls that tower into the water. So if you ever find yourself on the lower Colorado…pick your campsite wisely.

    I awoke feeling glad to be alive and refreshed for the last 22 miles to Hite (the upper most boat launch of Lake Powell). The team packed up quickly on the last day and set out for 6 hours of brutal slack water as the river began its slow demise into the lake.

    The sediment falls out and the current begins to die pretty quick when you hit the lake and we put our heads down and quietly paddled the remaining section of our trip to Hite. The last day is always bittersweet. Once you're finally in the groove of padding for 5 days, you feel like you could go forever. At the same time, I am always ready to get back to reality having gained something from the trip that can only be gained from a solid river trip with amazing friends.

    By the time we hit the beach, we were all too tired to realize what we had just accomplished. We snapped a few pics, deliriously unpacked our board, and headed for the closest burger joint we could find in Hanksville.

    It's during these trips that you discover a little something different about life. It may be the simple fact that you can push your body to the limit every day past your typical breaking point, or the fact that breaking down life to simple living from time to time will change your perspective on everything. It's a different realization for each of us, but one thing remains the same...The thirst for adventure and something new is what drives us as athletes and paddlers and we're always searching for the next adventure.

    Dams, Downwinders, Casinos, and clear water: A Badfisher Self Support Journey on the Lower Colorado

    Dams, Downwinders, Casinos, and clear water: A Badfisher Self Support Journey on the Lower Colorado

    -Written By Michael Tavares Zack Hughes, Bradley Hilton, and myself set off for a 5 day 150 mile self support trip on the lower Colorado River (Hoover Dam to Parker Dam) in early November. We needed a self support adventure, a good paddling beat down, and one final long SUP trip before the long winter of the west set in. We settled on the lower Colorado River section for a couple reasons. First off, the long body of the Colorado that exits the Hoover Dam is relatively unimpeded (with one large portage) as it snakes its way through human altered riverbeds until it reaches the tail end of lake Havasu (parker Dam). This means easy paddling and a great place to get in as many miles as possible in 5 days. Secondly, it’s one of the sections of the Colorado that whitewater paddlers like ourselves would typically stay away from (completely flat water & a power boating mecca). Oddly, this added to its allure and always makes for a different type of adventure. Lastly, in true snowbird fashion, the warm water and air temps of the Southwest seemed like a good choice before switching over to snow season.

    This trip perfectly coincided with the design of the all-new Badfish Badfisher, an 11’6” inflatable SUP that the crew at Badfish redesigned for fishing and expedition paddling. We just happened to have 3 prototypes that were dying to be paddled, abused, and put to the 150 mile test. While an 11’6” X 36” wide inflatable board might not be the first board that comes to mind for a trip such as this, we were pleasantly surprised. Paddling and carrying tons of gear came with much more ease than expected as we picked our way down the slow moving lower Colorado River.

    We met at a campsite on Lake Mead just above the engineering marvel of the Hoover Dam. We packed our bags and got a good nights rest before setting out the next morning for a “lucky” trip down the Lower Colorado River. Let the beat down begin!

    Launching from the base of Hoover Dam is both an exciting experience and a strange place to enter the Colorado River. A true engineering marvel that is holding back an insane amount of water (even at its lowest recorded level), as well as a grim reminder of what has happened to the Lower Colorado River Basin. Never the less, after a short shuttle drive down to the base of the dam and a quick security check by Homer Simpson guarding the gate at the bottom, we were given 15 minutes to get into the water and begin our journey down the mighty Colorado!

    For day one we had our sites set on doing the entire Black Rock Canyon, as well as a good chunk of the Mohave reservoir. As the Hoover dam quickly faded away in the background, all eyes were set on making it 150 miles to the base of Lake Havasu to the parker Dam where my Subaru patiently waited. During the first 12 miles paddling the swift crystal clear water that exits the base of the Hoover Dam, we worked out the kinks in our strokes, marveled at the breathtaking scenery of the Black Rock canyon, and wondered what was in store for our next 5 days on the water. One thing we didn’t know was that a serious wind event was approaching and that our trip would be turned into an epic journey that worked to our advantage! As we worked our way past Willow Beach, the normal takeout and marina below the Hoover Dam, we entered the first signs of the Mohave Reservoir. I hadn’t heard much about the Mohave Reservoir in the past except that it was about as remote as it gets for a reservoir on the Colorado River and that its very, very Windy!

    As we hit mile 20, the lake started to open up into larger bays that resembled stretches of Lake Powell. The wind started to pick up giving a nice little push from the north. About the time the wind started to crank, we were due for a quick lunch break and we rafted up and floated down the middle of the reservoir.

    Thoughts and doubts about the trip started to fly. In our true trip fashion, we hadn’t looked at the weather and had no idea we were due for high winds. It’s almost better that way, you never know what you’re in for! A quick wind app check on the phone while we had a bit of service proved that the next few days we could expect 40 mile + winds from the north. We were both a little excited (since north winds would be directly at our back the entire trip) as well as nervous for what the next few days would be like paddling with fully loaded boards with 40 mph tail winds!

    In true Badfish style we decided to celebrate by fashioning a ghetto sail with a blue tarp from Bradley’s camp set up and sail down the reservoir for the next 5 miles while we rested, why not?!

    The last 5 miles of the day were spent trudging across bays in the middle of the desert looking for a campsite. We settled on a nice little mucky beach in Roadrunner Bay about 31 miles from the put in. We cooked some food, told stories, and rested up for the next days wind event.

    As we awoke to a slight breeze from the north in our protected cove, we could already see the wind whipping out in the main body of the lake. We made quick work of camp and set our sites for paddling the rest of Lake Mohave and camping close to the Davis Dam (a massive dam we planned to portage the morning of Day 3).

    As we peeled out into the main bay we were greeted by north winds just as the forecast has predicted. We made quick time of the first 10 miles to the wide and fat section of the lake. It was a pure delight for many reasons. The obvious was that we were literally getting blown down the lake, which picked up our paddling average to an easy 6mph with fully loaded inflatables. Secondly, there were literally no boats and not a single person on the entire reservoir. Anyone that’s spent anytime on the flat water sections of the Colorado River knows that it’s a power boating mecca. This trip proved the complete opposite due to weather and time of year. We practically were the only people within sight for most of our trip (with the exception of dozen large cities we paddled through). Lastly, our experience paddling across lake Mohave was an amazing sight of desert wilderness mixed with man made intentions of taming the Colorado.

    Day 2 felt more like paddling in the ocean than a lake as we stayed out in the main body of the lake to catch the wind and get blown all the way to our destination close to the portage. I would say that throughout the day, we had an average of 20 mph sustained tailwinds with gusts in the 30’s and over 40 at some points. We were greeted with waist high crashers all day as we blundered across the desert expanse.

    We pulled another day with above average mileage and we pulled into a sweet little beach just within eyesight of the Davis Dam. We scoped out the mornings portage on Google maps, stretched out our sore muscles after 7 hours of downwind swells and drifted off into an early night on the Mohave with the lights of Casino towns in the distance.

    Day 3 started off with a bang! We scrambled up a rocky ravine to the river right side of the behemoth Davis Dam along with a mile walk around to the base (one trip with the boards and one with the drybags). After some friendly talks with the locals we met hanging out in the Tailwaters area of the dam, we peeled out into about an 8,000 cfs release of crystal clear Colorado River water (which is odd). We quickly made our way through a plethora of casino towns and power boating communities nestled on the banks of the somewhat mighty Colorado River in the area. We had a break in the wind on day three and the sunny skies made for some amazing paddling.

    The moving current also gave us a nice bump in motivation. We smiled at the Casino tourists, waved at the jet skis, and gave small tidbits of our “insane plan” to the folks that asked from the banks. In all, a marvelous day paddling the dam controlled waters of the lower Colorado just above lake Havasu! We blazed through the town of needles as the sun started to set and even snagged a quick beer from some power boaters that simply wanted to chat and see what we were up to with all that gear! We nestled into a small beach camp, looking ominously close to the high water line from the dam releases. Another day done, we tried to prepare for another day of promised tailwinds from the north…this time a 40+ all day prediction!

    We awoke at 4 am to the sound of lapping water on our boards (which we were sleeping on). Grumpily, we drug our gear further up the beach into the reeds and got a few more hours of restless sleep before the Day of insane Downwinding began! The forecast was calling for north winds all day hitting 40+, music to our ears. We set our sites on paddling 8 miles to the Interstate 40 Junction, then busting out most of the length of lake Havasu into Lake Havasu City…which turned out to be some of the most fun downwind paddling conditions I have ever experienced, let alone with a fully loaded 11.6 inflatable!

    As the clock struck 8am, just as the forecast called for, the winds went from almost zero to a tailwind of nuclear proportions. If the winds had been coming from any other direction, we would have spent all day sitting on shore hunkered down, but for some reason the stars were aligned and we were in for a treat.

    After a quick water fill up at the Topock Marina next to Interstate 40, we peeled out into the upper stretches of Lake Havasu and literally got blasted down the entire lake to Lake Havasu City! We spent the day smiling, surfing, swimming (well just me), and laughing all the way down the entire reservoir! We had the whole place to ourselves, which is insanely rare for Lake Havasu, due to gail force winds, crashing waist-chest waves, and relentless swell which we lavished in!

    Pulling into the sheltered cove canal and paddling under the “London Bridge” in Lake Havasu City was a surreal experience. After getting blown down most of the reservoir, we pulled into a public dock, grabbed some In-N-Out Burger and paddled another 5 miles to a vacant campsite on an island in the lake.

    All the stories of spring break, speedboats, and insane parties on Lake Havasu are absolutely apparent by the shape of the town and lower reservoir. But, on that day, we had the place to ourselves and got to experience a truly unique downwind journey on the tamed Colorado River.

    Camp that night was spent with scheming plans for more self-support downwind adventures. We crashed early under the warm November skies of Arizona.

    After packing on a few extra miles the first 4 days due to our “dumbass luck” conditions, we only had about 15 miles to the takeout around the corner from the Parker Dam.

    Paddling conditions were yet again in our favor and we limped all 15 miles with a light tailwind at our backs and enjoyed the vast and vacant stretches of lower Lake Havasu. The last day of any trip always seems to have a bittersweet feeling attached. The feeling of wanting to continue paddling for another 10 days and the feeling of getting back to whatever is waiting around the next corner or day.

    As we pulled into the marina at the base of Lake Havasu with the Parker Dam in our sites, we snapped a few pics, and reveled in the fact that we just had the luckiest 5 days of weather down the lower Colorado. We laughed all the way back to the put in!

    We were stoked with the fact that we just paddled 150 miles in 5 days on the new Badfisher’s as well. We really had no idea what we were in for considering our last few self-support trips had been on 16ft missiles. In terms of the boards, they were by far the easier to pack and manage gear on with their ample width and tie down points. We were worried early on that the width would be too much for that many miles, but in the end, it worked in our advantage as we never had to worry about tipping in the 40 mph winds! Why not take the most comfortable board on a trip if you have the option…and if we had any time to fish, we would have been easily slaying fish all the way down the lower Colorado. One last plus of the board was durability. On all previous self-support trips, board damage has always an issue and concern, but we beat the hell out of these boards without batting an eye.

    Stay tuned for more trips and news from the Badfish Crew and in the meantime keep on shredding! For more info about the all new Badfisher click here or visit your local retailer when they hit the shelves.

    Thanks for reading and see you on the river!,

    Mike T